Recently I was reviewing a website that, in the interest of privacy, shall remain nameless. The website was remarkable, primarily because it was filled with so many classic examples of what not to do if you want to show up on the top page of Google. It was precisely because of these SEO faux pas that the site was penalized by the search engines. When it comes to websites – an ounce of prevention is far better (and less costly) than a pound of cure. Let’s look at one SEO mistake that you’ll want to avoid like the plague.
Disappearing text is best left to mystery novels and spy shops that sell pens with disappearing ink. When it comes to your website, the words that appear on your pages should be easily readable by your average visitor. This means that there should be a high contrast between the font color and the background color. When the background color and the color of the text on top of it are too similar, you run into dangerous waters.
Low contrast and invisible text is a trick that has been used by the unscrupulous to trick the search engines. People use invisible text to repeat their keywords over and over again on their page to increase their keyword density. Keyword density is one measure that search engines use to determine how relevant a particular page is to a particular search term.
Keyword density = # of times the keyword appears on your page / total # of words on your page
Some use invisible and nearly invisible text to trick the search engines into thinking that their website has a high keyword density. Once upon a time this was a gimmick that worked. It was a bad idea, even when it worked, today its downright foolish. These days, the search engines are well aware of this trick, which is considered to be a black hat SEO tactic, and are adept at spotting it on a website and then penalizing the website for engaging in this type of behavior.
Mistakes carry a long lasting penalty
Google has a very long memory. This shouldn’t really be a surprise, after all they specialize in information storage and retrieval. Even after a mistake on a website has been corrected, the penalty may persist. In fact, in some especially egregious cases, Google has required that there be a change in management in order to lift the penalty for using black-hat SEO tactics!
A website that is designed and maintained in harmony with best practices for SEO has nothing to worry about, and everything to gain. If you discover that your web designer or Internet marketing partner used invisible text on your website, it’s time to terminate that relationship and look for a better Internet marketing partner.