Black Hat—or Black List? SEO Practices to Avoid
Inbound marketing is (or should be) a significant pillar of your property management marketing strategy. This type of marketing will allow you to engage with your audience and attract leads and clients by offering valuable content.
Inbound marketing relies on several different techniques to bring your audience to you and expand awareness of your property management business. An effective way to make your business more visible is to implement a good Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO) strategy.
What Is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization isn't that complicated in theory: SEO means adjusting or "optimizing" the content and design of your websites so that a search engine algorithm will prioritize your sites over others when it returns results to a user.
Optimization is a bigger deal than it may seem: the first page of a Google search result generates the vast majority of traffic that results from that search. If your websites don't make it to the first page, you may be missing more than 90% of your potential visitors. Getting this process right can mean a significant increase in leads for your property management business.
How To Do SEO Right
There are a few ways to do SEO and get meaningful results. Like most marketing and business practices, these methods fall on either side of a clear divide. On one side of the gap, you can find what SEO experts commonly call "White Hat SEO" and on the other, "Black Hat SEO."
The terms "White Hat" and "Black Hat" originated with the old trope of color-coding the costumes of heroes and villains in westerns. Today, it has less of a moral bent; instead, it describes whether or not SEO practitioners conduct their work in line with a search engine's terms of service or Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO techniques are audience-focused. White Hat techniques include;
- Filling your property management website with quality content
- Keeping it mobile friendly and easy to navigate
- Using keywords and meta tags appropriately.
When your rankings improve with White Hat techniques, you can be sure that your success is legitimate, user-focused, and relatively enduring.
Black Hat SEO
By contrast, Black Hat SEO techniques focus on your short term needs for growth: they don't solve actual problems for your audience or provide them with meaningful content. You may gain some short-term benefits in visibility, but this growth is hollow and won't sustain itself in the long term. What's more, as many Black Hat SEO techniques go against the terms of service of many search engines, you risk a ban from these services—which could prove to be a fatal blow to your business.
So, how can you be clear about which techniques fall into which camp? What should you be avoiding in your use of SEO for property management marketing?
Here are a few standard Black Hat SEO techniques of which you should be aware. If you find yourself using these methods—deliberately or not—you should make some changes to the way you do business.
Technique #1: Keyword Stuffing
This technique means cramming as many keywords as possible into your content. You would do this with the intention of gaming where your page ranks on a search result. Avoid using multiple variations of a keyword—or repeating it so often that it sounds unnatural. You'll provide a poor user experience and sabotage your ratings utilizing this technique.
Technique #2: Paying for Links
Backlinks are essential to SEO—but you can't buy your way to success here. Most search engines forbid the practice of paying for links to manipulate your search rankings. It's not always possible to vet the quality or legitimacy of bought links—and if they're disreputable, they're going to harm your rankings, which is counterproductive.
Technique #3: Clickbait
This technique is the act of baiting readers to content with an enticing but misleading title or thumbnail. This practice can get you some initial traffic, but in most cases, users will exit immediately upon realizing what's happened. Using clickbait to attract traffic drives up your bounce rate and drives down your session duration rate. Neither is good for you.
Technique #4: Cloaking
Cloaking is the act of showing a piece of content to a search engine that differs from what you show to users. Effectively, it's an effort to divorce what the website is hosting from its search engine ranking. This practice can include the act of redirecting search engine crawlers to different pages than other users. It's a common practice among spam websites and is fundamentally dishonest.
Technique #5: Redirects
Redirecting involves leading a reader from page to page so that they ultimately land on one different from their initial click. This practice can include leading users through multiple gateway pages or redirecting a highly ranked page to another page solely to manipulate its ranking in search results. Avoid any redirection that isn't transparent to the user or necessary for technical or design reasons.
Apply the Right SEO Techniques For Inbound Marketing Success
Getting your SEO effort right is a big deal. White Hat SEO can seem like the harder road, and it may be tempting to take some Black Hat shortcuts. Even if you find success in the short term, this probably won't be more than momentary.
If you're set on doing your inbound marketing right—and want to make the most of your SEO—download our "Property Manager's Guide to SEO in 2020!" If you wait until next year to start preparing for your marketing, you're already behind the competition.