Anybody who has even a slight knowledge of internet marketing practices knows that in the current climate, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is critical to ensuring that the content you produce for your client reaches the first page of whatever search engine (most often Google, but not always) an internet user is using. SEO works by using keywords, which are often the terms that people most search for in that particular industry, and weaving them into content. Google and other search engines then pick up these keywords, and use them to assess how relevant an article is to the industry in question. Then the article and website it is on move up the search engine rankings, meaning they are more visible to the consumer, meaning that the consumer is more likely to take notice of them.
However SEO is not so clear cut. It is a complex field of internet marketing, and with the importance of content increasing in recent years as far as Google are concerned, they have begun to crack down on negative SEO practices, in order to make sure that when users search for a particular thing, they only find what is relevant. Although the methods used to actually determine these rankings are closely guarded by the search engines, we do know the principals involved in determining these methods. This is where the white hat vs. black hat battle comes into play.
This is basically good SEO practices (white hat SEO) vs. bad SEO practices (black hat SEO). Over the last few years there are marketing experts who have been part of both schools of thought, however, as Google and other search engines place an increasing importance on content, white hat is clearly wining. So the first question we need to ask is, how do we define them? The second, how do they work?
White Hat SEO is a term that refers to good SEO practises and methods all geared towards elevating search engine rankings that comply with search engine guidelines and do not try to go around or bend them. The advantage to white hat is that the results they produce are firm, they endure. Typical white hat techniques include research, analysis, re-writing meta-tags to fall into line with the subject matter, improving the content, relevance of content and even website re-design.
Black Hat SEO is when you use techniques to boost yourself up the rankings that go against search engine guidelines or try to subvert them in some way. Black hat techniques often involve a large amount of deception and trickery, most common techniques including keyword stuffing, doorway and cloaked pages, link farming, hidden text, hidden links and blog comment span posts. The usual consequences of black hat SEO is that the content and/or the website are eventually banned by search engines, which means that people are much less likely to actually see them.
It’s clear that this proves that following the rules really does pay off. At the end of the day, Search Engine companies aren’t idiots; they’re experts at what they do. Don’t try to fool them, they will catch you out.
For a slightly more in depth look at White Hat vs Black Hat SEO – head on over to this mini wiki run by the guys at Diffen.com