In the "wild west" of the internet, search professionals AND Google refer to BAD & UGLY SEO practices as "black hat."
Black hat reminds us of the bad guy that wears a black hat in spaghetti westerns (as in this photo above left from the movie "The Good, Bad, and the UGLY").
Black hat in regards to SEO is a person or approach that tries to manipulate search results or computer security.
Google updates its search algorithms to identify BAD & UGLY BEHAVIORS and counters them in a variety of ways including lowered ranking or even removal from search results.
What scares me is that many artists and makers have been participating in behaviors (such as trading links or duplicate content) that search engines now consider black hat. Be prepared to avoid reduced page rank.
Here is a recent video from Google spokesperson, Matt Cutts titled,"What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?" .
SEO RECOMMENDATIONS for Artists & Makers:
- Use social media to develop your professional identity. If you are serious about your artistic future make deliberate business decisions.
- LINKS need to be high quality authority TO your website or blog, Focus on quality not quantity. I know this runs contrary to the friendly, supportive environment of social media, but personal is professional when it comes to your identity online. Read Jill Whalen's newsletter to understand the ramifications of your actions.
- ADD "Rel=Author" to your website and blog. This starts with a Google + profile. It is an absolute must. ASK Harriete offers you step by step instructions. Use the free Google Rich Snippet Testing Tool to verify whether or not Google Authorship has been set up successfully
- Image File Names are important for improved visibility. For artists and makers "a picture is worth a 1000 words" but not to search engines. Make sure every image works hard for your Internet visibility with unique titles, descriptions, tags, and keywords.
- Remove duplicate content from your website or blog. This includes duplicate page titles , duplicate meta descriptions, and even duplicate descriptions of similar items on your website. Search engines look at duplicate content as a SEO manipulation and 'black hat' practice. If you don't fix duplicate content on your website...the page may be removed from search results.
- Remove any content you "copied" from other websites. This is also considered "malicious" duplicate content and it will hurt your visibility in search engine results.