Shady SEO tactics can result in severe penalties for a website. Punishments can range from losing organic search engine traffic for a few days to losing it permanently.

While many “best practice” search engine optimization (SEO) techniques exist, there are a number of “worst practice” techniques that website owners must avoid to stay above board with the search engine giants.

Link Buying

Quite simply, link buying is the practice of purchasing links in an attempt to make a site seem more authoritative.

A common element of most search engine ranking algorithms is link popularity. To the search engines, the number of links that point to a domain is a measure of the authority and trustworthiness.

It is common for websites to try and cheat the system through link purchases.

Buying links should be avoided at all costs, because it is a violation in the eyes of most search engines and it can get a site banned from an index.

Cloaking

Cloaking refers to offering different content to search engines than to humans.

With cloaking, a web server will deliver different content based on whether the request is coming from a search engine or a Web browser. Search engines do not look favorably on cloaking.

Keyword Stuffing

Perhaps the most common form of black hat SEO, keyword stuffing crams a page’s content full of certain keywords to make the page appear more relevant for those keywords. Keyword stuffing is a very old-fashioned tactic that stopped working well a long time ago.

Keywords are important to a quality SEO campaign, but stuffing a page to the point where it doesn’t make any sense to the reader, will always land a website owner in hot water.

Hidden Text

The use of hidden text is another attempt to offer one type of content to the search engines and another to humans.

Hidden text and keyword stuffing often appear together. Since keyword-stuffed text reads so poorly, the idea is to hide it from visitors while still having it read by the search engines.

Quality content is essential to a website’s success.

There are plenty of legitimate ways to balance content with aesthetics and conversions, and hidden content isn’t worth the risk.

The Internet is an important marketing tool for most companies, which is why it is as important as ever to ensure that marketing tactics are focused on the long-term health and success of a website.

The risks associated with black hat SEO tactics are never worth the reward. 

Copyright 2012 dzine it, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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When a company hires a website development firm to develop their online presence, there are a number of steps that must be taken in order to ensure that the project is a success and to protect the rights of the website owner.

Most of these steps relate to the protection of intellectual property rights. Things like patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and other confidential information all fall under the auspice of intellectual property.

The question of who owns intellectual property items can become quite tricky when it comes to website development. Consider the following four tips aimed at protecting the rights of website owners when working with developers:

1. Get it on Paper

There should always be a written agreement between you and your developer before the work begins. This may seem like a pretty obvious statement, but some people get so excited about getting their project started that they simply rely on a quote that doesn’t really cover the many variables that the new relationship will create.

It is important for website owners to ensure that the agreement is finalized prior to the start of the work, because trying to negotiate terms after considerable time has been spent on the project is difficult and can lead to strained relationship between developer and client.

2. Discuss Ownership

“Any agreement must address who will own the final product,” says Crisafi. “In most cases, when the developer is an independent contractor, the developer is the owner of the intellectual property created by that developer.”

In other words, Crisafi says that even if a client had the idea for a specific website design or function and the developer was paid to produce that work, the developer is the “author” of the code and they own the copyright unless the agreement says otherwise.

3. Discuss Indemnification

“Be sure that the agreement requires the developer to indemnify you in the event you are sued by a third party for using code that you received from the developer,” says Crisafi, who notes that there has been an upswing in the amount of patent claims based on website functions.

4. Discuss Payment

Crisafi said that most development agreements will outline basic milestones for payment, which will essentially help both the client and developer set a timeline for completing the project.

“Make sure that any changes to the cost of the project are done in writing,” says Crisafi. “Many projects evolve through the development process and the original scope of the project may look very different in the end. If the client and the developer continually discuss and document cost along the way, there is less of a chance of conflict.”

Crisafi says that the ultimate goal of a contract between a developer and client is to ensure that everyone understands and agrees to key terms before the project begins.

 Copyright 2012 dzine it, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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