If you have heard the term “Black Hat SEO” then you know the term is applied negatively to websites that use methods of optimizing their website that is frowned on by search engines. In fact, these search engines will ban these sites from their rankings when they are discovered (and they almost always are).
There is another term used for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) referred to as “White Hat”, and just like the movie westerns of yesteryear you get the picture that there is a struggle between good and bad between these optimization approaches.
Newsweek reported in a December 19th, 2005 article, “[Search engines] are increasingly tolerant of ethical or “white hat” [SEOs], who primarily help their clients knock down the virtual walls that prevent search engines from fully indexing their site.”
To be clear, search engines view “Black Hat” SEO as spam while “White Hat” SEO is not only accepted, it is encouraged. Matt Cutts from Google has said, “To Google, SEO only becomes spam when it goes against our quality guidelines and moves into things like hidden text, hidden links, cloaking, or sneaky redirects…Truthfully, much of the best SEO is common-sense: making sure that a site’s architecture is crawlable, coming up with useful content or services that has the words that people search for, and looking for smart marketing angles so that people find out about your site.”
Now imagine a business owner looking for ways to pay the least amount on their income tax. They have every right to do so, but there comes a point when numbers are incorrectly manipulated to reduce the individual tax burden. Chances are pretty good that sometime in the future this individual is going to get caught.
“White Hat” SEO practitioners understand there is acceptable rules and they will frame their strategies within those rules because to ‘get caught’ using unethical SEO practices could mean saying goodbye to your ability to let the most people know about your existence on the web.
“Black Hat” SEO is often a sign of desperation. Because proper SEO techniques can take a while to be recognized and applied to search engine rankings many businesses who may feel their chance at business success is slipping away may resort to “Black Hat” techniques and end up banned from search engines in the process.
I can’t fault people for wanting business success sooner, but the moderate use of PPC advertising can help offset that ‘in-between’ time when you are waiting for “White Hat” SEO strategies to kick in.