There is no silver bullet when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). SEO firms have popped up throughout the Internet over the last five years claiming to help web sites increase their profiles. The consultants used by these companies can be categorized in two philosophies on search engine optimization. “White hat” SEO strategies utilize organic methods to increase search results and backlinks over the long term. Consultants that use “black hat” approaches to optimization work within the loopholes and niches made available by loose policies set by search engines.
Natural SEO Tools
There are several tools used by adherents to “white hat” optimization that stay within the confines of search engine policies as well as utility to searchers. Natural SEO processes begin with grammatically correct and informative pages that are useful to large audiences on the Internet. The keywords favored by certain demographics are blended within the context of website content to avoid awkward phrasing. The gradual growth in traffic is accelerated once individuals and businesses backlink to internal pages. This content-first approach to search engine optimization is ideal for individuals and businesses that are concerned with building loyal followings in the future.
“Black hat” approaches to search engine optimization fall into the gray area of search engine policies that are being filled in slowly by companies like Google. These approaches focus on technical glitches, oversights and loopholes that allow designers to focus more on search engine rankings rather than informative web sites. The list of technology-first tools available to “black hat” consultants grows daily as SEO firms look to stay ahead of policy changes. These tools include redirecting users from a dummy website, hiding links and stuffing content pages with popular keyphrases. Small businesses that want to develop viral marketing campaigns and catch the eye of consumers over the short term can use “black hat” SEO methods.
Debate Will Keep On Going…
The debate between “white hat” and “black hat” proponents has raged along several fault lines. Some “black hat” supporters feel that free speech and free market principles should be applied to web sites. Organic SEO proponents want to create even playing fields for all web sites with solid content and sound design as main variables for search engine rankings. There are tensions among designers who feel that the limits of technology should be the limits of optimization and outside observers who want to regulate online content to eliminate useless content.
Newcomers to the “white hat” versus “black hat” debate should know the role of search engines like Google and Yahoo in stoking these fires. These companies adjust their search algorithms on a regular basis to prevent tech-savvy designers from finding loopholes that work over the long term. The prioritization of backlinks, page views and dozens of other criteria is adjusted during these recalculations to ensure that sound web sites remain high in search rankings. An observer can find the same companies occupying spots at the top of search engine results over months and years due to effective SEO methods.
The choice for website designers between “black hat” and “white hat” SEO hinges on short and long term goals. Artificial optimization provides immediate gratification for website designers but lacks the long-term payoff of organic SEO tools. “White hat” tools take weeks, months and years to yield higher traffic but earn points among consumers tired of poorly designed web sites.