A simple Google
query shows that Google has indexed five million pages from
see Figure 8-2. In this SERP, it’s interesting to note that the results don’t have the “view cache” link. This
is using a meta
tag that prevents search engines from caching the
content (and clever users from circumventing the need for subscriptions). Upon close inspection, one
discovers that the search engines are indexing the content of many pages from
relevant results in the SERPs, but the content is not actually available to
This example does highlight quite well the concept that employing techniques that a search engine
considers “black hat” can be used for normatively acceptable purposes. It also highlights that Google
is willing to bend its rules for certain high-profile web sites.
Google’s stated policies are
ambiguous on the cloaking front — cloaking is considered “black hat”
and subject to site penalization. Examples like this one cloud the issue, however. Yahoo! and MSN are
less strict and allow cloaking so long as it is not misleading for the user. Cloaking, and the technical
and ethical issues it entails, is further explained in Chapter 11.
Technical Analysis of
When you view the SERPs for keywords that you would like to acquire, it is often useful to compare your
site to the competitions’. If one of your competitors employs a black hat technique, the technique is worth-
while to understand just for that reason alone. Perhaps your competitor has several thousand spam sites
pointing at his site, or perhaps his web site is sending optimized content to the search engines via cloak-
ing methods. Some search engine marketers believe in reporting such sites to search engines, whereas
some would just like to be aware. That decision is yours.
This chapter details several black hat techniques that are pertinent to every site developer.
Chapter 8: Black Hat SEO
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