SEO – Black Hat, White Hat

SEO – Black Hat, White Hat

Today’s society has become so Web dependent that for even the simplest question, people turn to their browser and search engine to find what they’re looking for. Whether it’s the score of last night’s Celtics game, a cooking measurement conversion, or top vacation destination, search engines seem to hold all the answers. And, at the same time, people expect those answers to be instantly available and findable. It’s gotten to the point where if the answer you’re looking for doesn’t appear within the top three results, let alone on the first page, people give up or reenter their query using different key words rather than browsing onto page two or, dare I say it?, three.

This is why SEO (search engine optimization) has become so powerful. Companies pay big bucks to land their URL on page one or in the esteemed top three links of search engine results. After all, more visibility means more clicks and more clicks means more sales. In a recent article, Jonathan Allen, director of Search Engine Watch, brought this point home, stating that over 30 percent of all clicks for all search terms are for the first result, 15 percent are for the second, and 10 percent for the third.

While this may seem surprising or even harsh, Tom Gerace, chief executive of Skyword Inc., explained, in the same article, that good SEO is a win, win situation as “searchers benefit because they find the information they seek, provided by brands they trust [and] brands benefit because they can connect with potential customers.’’

However, while we all love win, win situations, SEO isn’t always so easy. Companies trying to optimize their site for certain key words often have to battle black hat tactics. Black hat tactics are simply gimmicks that can boost a site’s search ranking, but don’t add value for the public. Such tactics often include creating tons of inbound links to your site, even if the inbound links are coming from spam comments or useless blog domains that are designed to serve only black hat purposes. This causes good information and trusted brands to get buried, leaving searchers frustrated by their unanswered queries.

On the other hand, white hat tactics are encouraged by search engines like Google as they actually do provide good information to the troves of people browsing the Web. By adding relevant keywords to a page on their site, or by linking to other pages with more information on the same topic, companies can successfully implement white hat SEO strategies and boost their ranking.

Search engines realize that their algorithms for rankings aren’t perfect and can sometimes be fooled by black hat techniques. However, they are cracking down on these instances to generate a more reliable search experience for users. So, as companies strive to improve their rank, white hat SEO strategies are the way to go as they not only provide useful content and target answers, but they are also more long lasting and won’t get slashed by the likes of Google or Yahoo! as they get tough on companies using black hat tactics.

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