Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception. One black hat technique uses text that is hidden, either as text colored similar to the background, in an invisible div, or positioned off screen. Another method gives a different page depending on whether the page is being requested by a human visitor or a search engine, a technique known as cloaking. Another category sometimes used is grey hat SEO. This is in between black hat and white hat approaches, where the methods employed avoid the site being penalized, but do not act in producing the best content for users. Grey hat SEO is entirely focused on improving search engine rankings.
1. The big picture. Before you get started with individual tricks and tactics, take a step back and learn about the “big picture” of SEO. The goal of SEO is to optimize your site so that it ranks higher in searches relevant to your industry; there are many ways to do this, but almost everything boils down to improving your relevance and authority. Your relevance is a measure of how appropriate your content is for an incoming query (and can be tweaked with keyword selection and content creation), and your authority is a measure of how trustworthy Google views your site to be (which can be improved with inbound links, brand mentions, high-quality content, and solid UI metrics).

Google's founders, in their original paper,[18] reported that the PageRank algorithm for a network consisting of 322 million links (in-edges and out-edges) converges to within a tolerable limit in 52 iterations. The convergence in a network of half the above size took approximately 45 iterations. Through this data, they concluded the algorithm can be scaled very well and that the scaling factor for extremely large networks would be roughly linear in {\displaystyle \log n} , where n is the size of the network.
A strategy that is linked into the effectiveness of digital marketing is content marketing.[39] Content marketing can be briefly described as "delivering the content that your audience is seeking in the places that they are searching for it".[39] It is found that content marketing is highly present in digital marketing and becomes highly successful when content marketing is involved. This is due to content marketing making your brand more relevant to the target consumers, as well as more visible to the target consumer.

While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye by using overly aggressive marketing efforts and attempting to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site's presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index.


One more important thing to keep in mind is that this factor is just part of the story about what helps pages to be displayed high in SERPs. Yes, it was the first one used by Google, but now there are lots of ranking factors, they all matter, and they all are taken into account for ranking. The most essential one is deemed content. You know this, content is king, there is no way around it. User experience is the new black (with the new Speed Update, it will become even more important).
These are ‘tit-for-tat’ links. For instance, you make a deal with your friend who has a business website to have him place a link to your website, and in exchange your website links back to his. In the dark ages of SEO, this used to be somewhat effective. But these days, Google considers such 'link exchanges' to be link schemes, and you may get hit with a penalty if you're excessive and obvious about it. This isn't to say that swapping links is always bad, but if your only motive is SEO, then odds are that you shouldn't do it.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, consumers spent $453.46 billion on the web for retail purchases in 2017, a 16.0% increase compared with $390.99 billion in 2016. That’s the highest growth rate since 2011, when online sales grew 17.5% over 2010. Forrester predicts that online sales will account for 17% of all US retail sales by 2022. And digital advertising is also growing strongly; According to Strategy Analytics, in 2017 digital advertising was up 12%, accounting for approximately 38% of overall spending on advertising, or $207.44 billion.


A backlink’s value doesn’t only come from the website authority itself. There are other factors to consider as well. You’ll sometimes times hear those in the industry refer to “dofollow” and “nofollow” links. This goes back to the unethical linkbuilding tactics in the early days of SEO. One practices included commenting on blogs and leaving a link. It was an easy method and back then, search engines couldn’t tell the difference between a blog post and other site content.
However, if you are seasoned online marketer, and you've built a substantial following, then marketing as an affiliate might be the right fit. Jason Stone from Millionaire Mentor has built a seven-figure business with affiliate marketing, while David Sharpe from Legendary Marketer has built up an eight-figure business by creating an army of affiliates that market products in collaboration with his team.
Was reviewing some competitive data and thought this was pretty interesting. I ran a batch analysis on Ahrefs of competitors. See attached screenshot. With just 603 backlinks, Our site is ranking up there with sites with 2x, 3x, 10x the number of backlinks/unique ips. Guessing some of this authority is coming from the backlinks program and general good quality of those links. Hard to speculate but nice to see. Ben R.
At one point, backlinks developed a reputation of damaging a site’s credibility through search engines. This is due to “black hat” SEO practices would add 5,000 links to a website overnight (a practice that is still used today). While the website would launch to the top of search ranking results for a few weeks, it wouldn’t stay there, and the site’s credibility would be damaged because a few dozen servers with thousands of useless websites existed for the sole purpose of creating backlinks.
It's clear that online marketing is no simple task. And the reason why we've landed in this world of "expert" internet marketers who are constantly cheerleading their offers to help us reach visibility and penetrate the masses is because of the layer of obscurity that's been afforded to us in part thanks to one key player: Google. Google's shrouded algorithms that cloud over 200+ ranking factors in a simple and easy-to-use interface has confounded businesses for well over a decade now.
Because of the size of the actual web, the Google search engine uses an approximative, iterative computation of PageRank values. This means that each page is assigned an initial starting value and the PageRanks of all pages are then calculated in several computation circles based on the equations determined by the PageRank algorithm. The iterative calculation shall again be illustrated by our three-page example, whereby each page is assigned a starting PageRank value of 1.
Online reviews have become one of the most important components in purchasing decisions by consumers in North America. According to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research which included over 1000 participants, 90% of respondents said that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions and 94% will use a business with at least four stars. Interestingly, negative reviews typically came from online review sites whereas Facebook was the main source of positive reviews. Forrester Research predicts that by 2020, 42% of in-store sales will be from customers who are influenced by web product research.
At IMI, we have the ability to incorporate Affiliate Marketing into any integrated digital marketing campaign in order to push product sales and drive revenue. We believe that this is just one piece of the digital puzzle however. Affiliate campaigns can incorporate many aspects of digital marketing including web design and development, display, paid search, conversion optimization, and SEO.
And why not? Human beings have always enthralled themselves into one pursuit after another, all with a means to an end of improving our lives. Clearly, the conveniences afforded by the internet are quite literally earth-shattering to say the least. Three decades ago, few could have ever imagined the present state of our on-demand-everything society, with the ability to instantly communicate and conduct business in real-time, at a pace that often seems dizzying at the best of times.
What that means to us is that we can just go ahead and calculate a page’s PR without knowing the final value of the PR of the other pages. That seems strange but, basically, each time we run the calculation we’re getting a closer estimate of the final value. So all we need to do is remember the each value we calculate and repeat the calculations lots of times until the numbers stop changing much.
youfoundjake, those would definitely be the high-order bits. The fact that no one noticed this change means (to me) even though it feels like a really big shift, in practice the impact of this change isn’t that huge. By the way, I have no idea why CFC flagged you, but I pulled your comment out of the Akismet bin. Maybe some weird interaction of cookies with WordPress caching? Sorry that happened.
The internet is full of business potential, but it is also rife with competition. In this situation, it becomes really tough to sell your products or services. Affiliate marketing can help you effectively promote your product on the web. By helping you reach out to a large potential customer base, affiliate programs help you to connect with millions of customers across the globe.

DisabledGO, an information provider for people with disabilities in the UK and Ireland, hired Agency51 to implement an SEO migration strategy to move DisabledGO from an old platform to a new one. By applying 301 redirects to old URLS, transferring metadata, setting up Google webmaster tools, and creating a new sitemap, Agency 51 was able to successfully transfer DisabledGO to a new platform while keeping their previous SEO power alive. Additionally, they were able to boost visitor numbers by 21% year over year, and the site restructuring allowed DisabledGO to rank higher than competitors. Their case study is available on SingleGrain.com.


Being a leading data-driven agency, we are passionate about the use of data for designing the ideal marketing mix for each client and then of course optimization towards specific ROI metrics. Online marketing with its promise of total measurement and complete transparency has grown at a fast clip over the years. With the numerous advertising channels available online and offline it makes attributing success to the correct campaigns very difficult. Data science is the core of every campaign we build and every goal we collectively set with clients.
Thanks a lot for all of those great tips you handed out here. I immediately went to work applying the strategies that you mentioned. I will keep you posted on my results. I have been offering free SEO services to all of my small business bookkeeping clients as a way of helping them to grow their businesses. Many of them just don’t have the resources required to hire an SEO guru to help them but they need SEO bad. I appreciate the fact that you share your knowledge and don’t try to make it seem like it’s nuclear science in order to pounce on the innocent. All the best to you my friend!
Quality content is more likely to get shared. By staying away from creating "thin" content and focusing more on content that cites sources, is lengthy and it reaches unique insights, you'll be able to gain Google's trust over time. Remember, this happens as a component of time. Google knows you can't just go out there and create massive amounts of content in a few days. If you try to spin content or duplicate it in any fashion, you'll suffer a Google penalty and your visibility will be stifled.
Content is king. It always has been and it always will be. Creating insightful, engaging and unique content should be at the heart of any online marketing strategy. Too often, people simply don't obey this rule. The problem? This takes an extraordinary amount of work. However, anyone that tells you that content isn't important, is not being fully transparent with you. You cannot excel in marketing anything on the internet without having quality content.
One thing is certain: interlinking sites doesn't help you from a search engine standpoint. The only reason you may want to interlink your sites in the first place might be to provide your visitors with extra resources to visit. In this case, it would probably be okay to provide visitors with a link to another of your websites, but try to keep many instances of linking to the same IP address to a bare minimum. One or two links on a page here and there probably won't hurt you.

Try using Dribble to find designers with good portfolios. Contact them directly by upgrading your account to PRO status, for just $20 a year. Then simply use the search filter and type "infographics." After finding someone you like, click on "hire me" and send a message detailing your needs and requesting a price. Fiver is another place to find great designers willing to create inexpensive infographics. 

Chris_D, great question. If you have a single product page that can have multiple urls with slightly different parameters, that’s a great time to use a rel=canonical meta tag. You can use rel=canonical for pages with session IDs in a similar fashion. What rel=canonical lets you do is say “this page X on my host is kinda of ugly or otherwise isn’t the best version of this page. Use url Y as the preferred version of my page instead.” You can read about rel=canonical at http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=139394. Bear in mind that if you can make your site work without session IDs or make it so that you don’t have multiple “aliases” for the same page, that’s even better because it solves the problem at the root.


If you are serious about improving web traffic to your website, we recommend you read Google Webmasters and Webmaster Guidelines. These contain the best practices to help Google (and other search engines) find, crawl, and index your website. After you have read them, you MUST try our Search Engine Optimization Tools to help you with Keyword Research, Link Building, Technical Optimization, Usability, Social Media Strategy and more.
One of the consequences of the PageRank algorithm and its further manipulation has been the situation when backlinks (as well as link-building) have been usually considered black-hat SEO. Thus, not only Google has been combating the consequences of its own child's tricks, but also mega-sites, like Wikipedia, The Next Web, Forbes, and many others who automatically nofollow all the outgoing links. It means fewer and fewer PageRank votes. What is then going to help search engines rank pages in terms of their safety and relevance?

There are also many keyword research tools (some free and some paid) that claim to take the effort out of this process. A popular tool for first timers is Traffic Travis, which can also analyse your competitors’ sites for their keyword optimization strategies and, as a bonus, it can deliver detailed analysis on their back-linking strategy, too. You can also use Moz.com’s incredibly useful keyword research tools – they’re the industry leader, but they come at a somewhat higher price.


Google's founders, in their original paper,[18] reported that the PageRank algorithm for a network consisting of 322 million links (in-edges and out-edges) converges to within a tolerable limit in 52 iterations. The convergence in a network of half the above size took approximately 45 iterations. Through this data, they concluded the algorithm can be scaled very well and that the scaling factor for extremely large networks would be roughly linear in {\displaystyle \log n} , where n is the size of the network.
One thing is certain: interlinking sites doesn't help you from a search engine standpoint. The only reason you may want to interlink your sites in the first place might be to provide your visitors with extra resources to visit. In this case, it would probably be okay to provide visitors with a link to another of your websites, but try to keep many instances of linking to the same IP address to a bare minimum. One or two links on a page here and there probably won't hurt you.

It's key to understand that nobody really knows what goes into PageRank. Many believe that there are dozens if not hundreds of factors, but that the roots go back to the original concept of linking. It's not just volume of links either. Thousands of links by unauthoritative sites might be worth a handful of links from sites ranked as authoritative.


Online reviews, then, have become another form of internet marketing that small businesses can't afford to ignore. While many small businesses think that they can't do anything about online reviews, that's not true. Just by actively encouraging customers to post reviews about their experience small businesses can weight online reviews positively. Sixty-eight percent of consumers left a local business review when asked. So assuming a business's products or services are not subpar, unfair negative reviews will get buried by reviews by happier customers.
1. Apparently, external linking of any kind bleeds PR from the page. Following or nofollowing becomes a function of whether you want that lost PR to benefit the other site. Since nofollow has ceased to provide the benefit of retaining pagerank, the only reason to use it at all is Google Might Think This Link Is Paid. Conclusion: Google is disincentivizing external links of any kind.
PageRank is a link analysis algorithm and it assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of "measuring" its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references. The numerical weight that it assigns to any given element E is referred to as the PageRank of E and denoted by {\displaystyle PR(E).} Other factors like Author Rank can contribute to the importance of an entity.
Another way to get sites to link back to something valuable on your site is by offering a free tool. A free tool could be a basic tool (like an auto loan calculator) or a scaled down version of a paid tool (like Alexa’s Site Overview and Audience Overlap tools). If the tools are valuable enough, others will link to them in their content. Plus, on free versions of paid tools, you can add call-to-actions to sign up for the full product/service which drives acquisition in addition to awareness.
If you decide to go into affiliate marketing, understand that you will need a lot of very targeted traffic if you want to make any real money. Those affiliate offers also need to provide a high commission amount to you on each sale. You also need to ensure that the returns or chargebacks for those products or services are low. The last thing you want to do is to sell a product or service that provides very little value and gets returned often.
One of the consequences of the PageRank algorithm and its further manipulation has been the situation when backlinks (as well as link-building) have been usually considered black-hat SEO. Thus, not only Google has been combating the consequences of its own child's tricks, but also mega-sites, like Wikipedia, The Next Web, Forbes, and many others who automatically nofollow all the outgoing links. It means fewer and fewer PageRank votes. What is then going to help search engines rank pages in terms of their safety and relevance?
If you are going to use SEM, you must build the costs of using this form of marketing into your cash-flow forecasts and the prices you’re charging for your work. Spending $3,000 a month on Adwords to land $20,000 of business is eminently sensible in most cases. Spending $3,000 a month to land $3,500 of business, on the other hand, is likely to be a disaster for your business’s ability to trade effectively in the long term.
Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece of your content. Users who know a lot about the topic might use different keywords in their search queries than someone who is new to the topic. For example, a long-time football fan might search for [fifa], an acronym for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, while a new fan might use a more general query like [football playoffs]. Anticipating these differences in search behavior and accounting for them while writing your content (using a good mix of keyword phrases) could produce positive results. Google Ads provides a handy Keyword Planner34 that helps you discover new keyword variations and see the approximate search volume for each keyword. Also, Google Search Console provides you with the top search queries your site appears for and the ones that led the most users to your site in the Performance Report35.
On a blog the page rank should go to the main article pages. Now it just gets “evaporated” if you use “nofollow” or scattered to all the far flung nooks and crannys which means google will not be able to see the wood for the trees. The vast majority of a site’s overall page rank will now reside in the long tail of useless pages such as commentors profile pages. This can only make it harder for google to serve up the most relevant pages.
He is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
As for the use of nofollow as a way to keep pages that shouldn’t be indexed out of Google (as with your feed example) is terrible advice. Your use of it on your feed link does nothing. If anyone links to your feed without nofollow, then it’s going to get indexed. Things that shouldn’t be indexed need to use either robots.txt or meta robots blocking. Nofollow on links to those items isn’t a solution.

Another excellent guide is Google’s “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.” This is a free PDF download that covers basic tips that Google provides to its own employees on how to get listed. You’ll find it here. Also well worth checking out is Moz’s “Beginner’s Guide To SEO,” which you’ll find here, and the SEO Success Pyramid from Small Business Search Marketing.


Hi Bill, Yes – thanks. I think I’ll have to do more of these. I couldn’t really go beyond Pagerank in an 18 minute Pubcon session. Although the random surfer model expired (and wasn’t even assigned to Google), it is still a precursor to understanding everything that has come after it. I think I would love to do more videos/presentations on both Reasonable surfer patent, Dangling Nodes and probably a lifetime of other videos in the future. To be able to demonstrate these concept without giving people headaches, though, the PageRank algorithm in Matrix form provides a good understanding of why you can’t "just get links" and expect everything to be at number 1.
Internet Marketing Inc. provides integrated online marketing strategies that help companies grow. We think of ourselves as a business development consulting firm that uses interactive marketing as a tool to increase revenue and profits. Our management team has decades of combined experience in online marketing as well as graduate level education and experience in business and finance. That is why we focus on creating integrated online marketing campaigns designed to maximize your return on investment.
The biggest problem that most people have when trying to learn anything to do with driving more traffic to their website or boosting their visibility across a variety of online mediums, is that they try to do the least amount of work for the greatest return. They cut corners and they take shortcuts. Because of that, they fail. Today, if you're serious about marketing anything on the web, you have to gain Google's trust.
Internet Marketing Inc. provides integrated online marketing strategies that help companies grow. We think of ourselves as a business development consulting firm that uses interactive marketing as a tool to increase revenue and profits. Our management team has decades of combined experience in online marketing as well as graduate level education and experience in business and finance. That is why we focus on creating integrated online marketing campaigns designed to maximize your return on investment. 

I really hope that folks don’t take the idea of disabling comments to heart… first that isn’t much fun for you the blog owner or your visitors. Second… I just did a cursory glance at the SERPS for ‘pagerank sculpting’ (how I found this post). Interestingly enough, the number of comments almost has a direct correlation with the ranking of the URL. I’m not so certain that there is a causal relationship there. But I would certainly consider that Google probably has figured out how to count comments on a WP blog and probably factors that into ranking. I know that I would.
With this change, I can still get the $4 if I simply don’t allow comments. Or I show comments, but I use an iframe, so that the comment actually reside on a different page. In either case, I’m encouraged to reduce the number of links rather than let them be on the page period, nofollow regardless. If I’m worried my page won’t seem “natural” enough to Google without them, maybe I allow 5 comments through and lock them down after that.

The first component of Google's trust has to do with age. Age is more than a number. But it's not just the age when you first registered your website. The indexed age has to do with two factors: i) the date that Google originally found your website, and; ii) what happened between the time that Google found your website and the present moment in time.


Thank you, Brian, for this definitive guide. I have already signed up for Haro and have plans to implement some of your strategies. My blog is related to providing digital marketing tutorials for beginners and hence can be in your niche as well. This is so good. I highly recommend all my team members in my company to read your blog everytime you published new content. 537 comments in this post within a day, you are a master of this. A great influence in digital marketing space.


I still think you’re going to cause a new form of sculpting, where people will remove links from their pages other than using nofollow, in hopes flowing PageRank to links they think are important. You’ve said number of links matter — and that nofollow doesn’t reduce those links — so some will keep chasing after whatever extra oomph may be out there.
Business address listings on Google, Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yellow Pages, and elsewhere count as backlinks. Perhaps more importantly, they also go a long ways towards helping customers find your business! There are many, many such sites. A good way to approach this once you've gotten the biggies out of the way - Google should be your first priority - is to make a point of setting up a couple new citation profiles every week or so. Search around for updated lists of reputable business listing sites, and use it as a checklist.

Great Post, I am agree with you. currently Google keeps change in algorithmic program methods thus in gift state of affairs everybody ought to have an honest quality website, quality content. Content is quality {and ought to|and will|and may} be contemporary on your web site and conjointly it should be associated with the subject. it’ll assist you in your ranking.

PageRank is only a score that represents the importance of a page, as Google estimates it (By the way, that estimate of importance is considered to be Google’s opinion and protected in the US by the First Amendment. When Google was once sued over altering PageRank scores for some sites, a US court ruled: “PageRanks are opinions — opinions of the significance of particular Web sites as they correspond to a search query….the court concludes Google’s PageRanks are entitled to full constitutional protection.)
Google will like your content if your clients like it. The content should be helpful and contain less information which is already known to the reader. It is to meet their expectations. When users vote for your site, it means that Google starts accepting it as an authority site. That’s why content writing is as important as a speech of a candidate for the Presidency. The better it is, the more visitors you have.
Of course, it’s possible that the algorithm has some method of discounting internally reflected (and/or directly reciprocal) links (particularly those in identical headers or footers) to such an extent that this isn’t important. Evidence to support this the fact that many boring pages that are linked to by every page in a good site can have very low PR.

There is much discussion in these last few months about reciprocal linking. In the last Google update, reciprocal links were one of the targets of the search engine's latest filter. Many webmasters had agreed upon reciprocal link exchanges, in order to boost their site's rankings with the sheer number of inbound links. In a link exchange, one webmaster places a link on his website that points to another webmasters website, and vice versa. Many of these links were simply not relevant, and were just discounted. So while the irrelevant inbound link was ignored, the outbound links still got counted, diluting the relevancy score of many websites. This caused a great many websites to drop off the Google map.
The green ratings bars are a measure of the importance Google’s assessment of the importance of a web page, as determined by Google’s patented PageRank technology and other factors. These PageRank bars tell you at a glance whether other people on the web consider Google considers a page to be a high-quality site worth checking out. Google itself does not evaluate or endorse websites. Rather, we measure what others on the web feel is important enough to deserve a link. And because Google does not accept payment for placement within our results, the information you see when you conduct a search is based on totally objective criteria. 

All major crawler-based search engines leverage links from across of the web, but none of them report a static “importance” score in the way Google does via its Google Toolbar. That score, while a great resource for surfers, has also provided one of the few windows into how Google ranks web pages. Some webmasters, desperate to get inside Google, keep flying into that window like confused birds, smacking their heads and losing their orientation….
Matt Cutts, it’s Shawn Hill from Longview, Texas and I’ve got to say, “you’re a semseo guru”. That’s obviously why Google retained you as they did. Very informative post! As head of Google’s Webspam team how to you intend to combat Social Networking Spam (SNS)? It’s becoming an increasingly obvious problem in SERPs. I’m thinking Blogspam should be the least of Google’s worries. What’s your take?
×