If you’re just learning about SEO, you’re no doubt doing a lot of reading online. Plenty of SEO publications, blogs, and forums have lots of great tips and advice on best practices. But many sites can steer you in more nefarious directions with “black hat” tactics meant to “trick” the search engines into ranking your site.

So how do you know which advice to follow? That’s where ETR comes in. We’re here to teach you what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to running an Internet business.

One thing you should avoid when optimizing your site for the search engines is hidden text.

Also known as “invisible text,” hidden text is extra text that you conceal on your website by putting it in the same color as your page’s background color. This hides the text from users, but it is still visible to the search engines. The idea behind this sneaky tactic? To cram a page full of keywords that the search engines would eat up, and therefore rank your site higher.

It’s a ploy that worked for a while back in the mid to late nineties when search engines were much less sophisticated. But it was still search engine spam even when it did work, and it’s search engine spam now. So don’t do it. Hidden text is a surefire way to get your site penalized by the search engines in general and banned by Google altogether.

Listen, you don’t need to revert to dirty tricks like this. Just write great content that both your visitors and the search engines will love!

[Ed. Note: Alexis Siemon is ETR’s resident Search Engine Marketing Specialist. ]

After graduating from Florida State University in 1997, Alexis got started in the golden age of the Internet marketing industry working agency-side where she performed everything from search engine optimization (SEO) to web analytics to media buying for several clients. She then took her expertise client-side managing SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) efforts, as well as other print and interactive marketing initiatives for companies in the financial and software industries.

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