“Fear is the path to the dark side”.
Much like the Force in Star Wars, SEO is a mystery to most.
Han Solo said this about SEO:
“Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other; I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff. But I’ve never seen anything to make me believe that there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything.”
Okay, maybe he wasn’t exactly talking about SEO, but a lot of small business owners echo that statement.
When some space wizard starts talking about ranking on Google by creating blogs and getting backlinks, it sounds like a bunch of Jedi trickery.
But once Han saw the force being used first hand…
You know, when he tried to shoot Darth Vader or when Luke convinced Ewoks to let them go….he became a believer.
Small business owners soon or later come around and realize the force…I mean, SEO…is real – and works.
But that is just the start….and this can become a problem.
The Dark Side of SEO: Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?
For those familiar with the Star Wars franchise, you’ve likely heard that name Anakin Skywalker.
Young Anakin Skywalker was once a very powerful Jedi. Maybe not a Master, but certainly some thought he was the chosen one.
He possessed great gifts. Let’s just say he could get a website ranking on the first page of Google with very little effort. He was naturally gifted.
He always used his skills for good.
Well….except for that one time with Tusken Raiders – but, we don’t talk about that.
Anakin was on his way to be one of the best of all-time. So good, he would probably get his own Podcast, blog, and possibly even speak at a national conference.
And because of this, he was befriended by a politician. This politician would take him to a very odd dinner show and tell him the tale of Darth Plagueis – a Dark Lord of the Sith – so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to influence the search engines and rank any website, regardless of quality.
Anakin was now privy to the dark side of the Force…..and what some might call Black Hat Tactics of SEO.
Many believe that the dark side is a pathway to abilities some consider to be unnatural.
Sadly, Darth Plagueis spread his knowledge to an apprentice, who continued to spread these black hat tactics….
Anakin was lured to the dark side by fear and temptation. He would become the greatest villain in all of movie history, using the dark side to control by fear and manipulation.
Because of this, many star-systems and legitimate websites tanked in the Google rankings – losing web traffic and possible customers. Because of the Dark Side, businesses have to fight even harder to come out ahead and compete against the evil empire.
Spotting a Dark Lord of the Sith: Black Hat Tactics to Avoid
If you are website owner, or anyone with an email, you have likely been hit with your common SEO spam. Hopefully you can see through these cold-emails and realize this is the entry level tactic of a Sith. Because of that, I want to share with you some of the tactics from the Dark Side that you should always avoid.
Many Bothans died to bring us this information.
Imagine if every other word I said was Black Hat SEO Tactics. More accurately, a Black Hat SEO Tactic would actually have me saying Black Hat SEO Tactic several times in a Black Hat SEO Tactic article or Black Hat SEO Tactic paragraph.
Any idea what term I would be trying to rank for?
This unnatural use of language is annoying for users. Many of us would have a better conversation with Jabba the Hut or Greedo – and I doubt any of us speak Huttese.
You should make sure your target keyword is used throughout your page, but it should be natural and used to help structure the content. Search engines really do like to know the topic of your page, but if 30% of all-words on your page are the same exact phrase…you look like a short Stormtrooper. They know what’s up.
Hidden Texts or Links
White text on a white background – it’s like trying to spot a Snowtrooper on Hoth.
Imagine a user thinking a page is a few hundred words long but the search engine seeing a thousand more words, most of them being targeted keywords.
This is a common practice of the Sith.
That politician we spoke of earlier. Turns out he was the Emperor. All of the Jedi thought he was helping restore order in the Senate but he was actually an evil Sith Lord the whole time.
Cloaking is the same with a website. You show users one thing but the search engines see something entirely different.
It’s a bit more complex but let’s not waste time. We want to save some time so we can make our way to Tosche station to pick up some power converters.
There are a lot of Star Destroyers flying around the galaxy. Each one of these ships could be considered an “evil website”. Sith Lords leverage these ships, promising a big return if you align with them. But in all reality, these ships are occupied by incompetent Stormtroopers and “yes” men in silly hats.
The Dark Side of SEO offer you links on a ton of websites. These websites are often viewed as spam and low quality – bringing you no actual value.
They look strong, but a few X-Wing pilots will strike them down like a wamp rat.
Darth Vader might have been able to pay off Lando and rent Cloud City – but in the end, Lando got the last laugh.
Links should be earned, not bought. Or maybe you can win a link in a game of Sabacc.
Seriously, learn a lesson from the empire – Clones won’t win the war.
Taking content from other websites and trying to pass them off on your own site does not work.
Leave the cloning on Kamino and build your own content.
Automated Content Creation
Uh-oh. Using droids to fill your site with content is not a safe strategy to win. You may have heard of the new protocol droid Chat-GPT and think that it’s okay to have them do all of the work. Not such a great idea.
Use droids to help save time and improve functionality. Let them create some of the bulk work, but you should always be adding the human element to your content.
If your website starts looking like the interior of the Death Star, you better find yourself an escape pod.
Doorway pages are low-quality pages optimized for specific keywords and usually duplicated and cloned with only the main keyword being swapped out.
You will see this with city names.
- “Bounty Hunter Tatooine”
- “Bounty Hunter Coruscant”
- “Bounty Hunter Dagobah”
There’s nothing wrong with having optimized landing pages, but they better be different and optimized for that different location.
It’s one thing to use the Dark Side for your own benefit, but when you use the Dark Side to harm others….
Well…I guess they are both equally bad.
Imagine using these tactics to have Google think your competitor was turning to the Dark Side.
Luke was challenged with turning to the Dark Side and using Black Hat SEO Tactics against his friends. Thankfully he was not lured into such awful practices.
Training at the Jedi Temple: Using White Hat SEO Tactics
Is the dark side stronger? -No, no. No. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Knows, Master Yoda, does.
Much like the Jedi, who choose to do things the right way despite the challenges, white hat SEO may take longer to show results, but it ultimately leads to long-term success.
Once you take a good look at the Jedi Library, you should have the understanding of a successful SEO campaign and you will understand that the process will lead you to success.
It can be frustrating. You are a Padawan with an awful haircut for several months before you finally get to slice an Imperial Probe Droid in half with a lightsaber. But once you become one with the Force, you are raising your website traffic faster than Luke can lift rocks while standing on his head.
- Create quality content
- Generate organic backlinks
- Engage with your audience
- Work with the algorithms to promote your content
Your focus determines your reality.Qui-Gon Jinn
Darth Vader Can Change, So Can You: Recovering from Black Hat Tactics
Maybe you found yourself hanging with a wretched hive of scum and villainy. It’s okay, you can redeem yourself.
If you are using Black Hat Tactics, It’s only a matter of time before you are revealed and stricken down. Google has droids all over the galaxy. Once they find out you are a Sith apprentice, they will likely drop your ranks and possibly ban your website from the search results.
Google’s droids are designed to detect and penalize websites that violate their webmaster guidelines, which include the use of manipulative techniques like keyword stuffing, cloaking, and buying links.
If you do manage to recover from a penalty, it can take a significant amount of time and effort to rebuild your website’s reputation and regain your previous rankings.
The dark side of SEO can be tempting, but it’s ultimately a path to destruction.
Green or Red: Selecting the Right Lightsaber
Listen, I know how cool the red lightsaber is. Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, and the entire Empire looks pretty badass. We know this and it’s quite tempting to join forces with them.
But we are privy to how it all ends. Yes, somehow Palapatine returned…but it’s short-lived.
If you want to see your website live forever (and turn into a Force Ghost), join the Light Side of SEO.
Remember, as Obi-Wan Kenobi said, ‘The Force will be with you, always.’ So choose wisely, and may the force be with your SEO strategy.