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Black Hat vs White Hat SEO a pros opinion


Since the birth of the World Wide Web, accompanying its rapid growth was the realisation that there needed to be some way in which internet users could find what they wanted, quickly and efficiently. This need triggered the development of text-based search engines, which in turn started off an entire new area in the information and technology sector. Today, search engines are a vital aspect of website promotion.

As such, search engines are an excellent - and normally free - source of traffic, which has led to a surge in the demand for SEO techniques for website promotion. SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is a process whereby both on-site and external factors are addressed in working to build search engine rankings for a given site, primarily focused upon presence in the Google search results although other engines such as Microsoft`s recently launched Bing are now competing for a share of the search market. In today`s search industry there are two clear options when it comes to implementing SEO techniques: ethical and legitimate approaches known as "White Hat", and less acceptable "Black Hat" trickery.

When considering the degree of competition, it is perhaps unsurprising that some webmasters resort to Black Hat SEO techniques. Black Hat SEO techniques generally exploit a loophole in a search engines` ranking system, so that the website in question "may" appear further up the search rankings than it should. They embrace various "spammy" approaches which range from hidden text on the page (seen by the search engines, not by the visitor); page redirection from a search engine friendly page to a page designed for monetisation; use of co-operative networks and so-called "link farms" or simply buying links to artificially inflate the number of links a site may appear to have; "cloaking" (presenting one version of a page to a search engine and another to a user); secret teams globally using the search engines to artificially boost the click-through-ratio (CTR) and time on site for a given site (Google can track user behaviour via the Google toolbar and uses this as a key part of its scoring system); and a myriad of other methods which are almost invariably against the search engines` terms of service. Unfortunately the search engines are not perfect and some Black Hat SEO techniques may be very effective whilst they last, however when the search engines recognise the situation the website in question may be banned or penalised heavily, negating the effort put into website promotion.

In contrast, White Hat techniques use link equity, on-site content, keyword density, site structure and quality and generally focus on ensuring that the website actually deserves to be at the top of the Google search results Since these techniques tend to agree with the search engines` terms of use and are much more ethical than the alternatives, their effects will last - even though they may take far longer to produce results. Different search engines use different algorithms and formulae in order to decide where in the search results a website should appear, but they all focus on one thing: abusing the ranking system or another aspect of the search engine is not allowed, and anybody caught doing so will be penalised. Forget Black Hat.

There are thus a wide range of ethical white hat SEO techniques, many of which will work with ALL of the search engines. Posting insightful comments and content onto social media sites and leaving the website address in an anchor link within the post, is one such method. Perhaps the most effective is the creation of high quality content (of value to a human visitor) on your website, with the content including relevant keywords at a sensible density. The better your content, the longer the visitor will remain on site - another key factor for ranking in the Google search results. Remember that the search engines are sensitive to grammar and spelling so investing in the best quality content you can afford is a must. Attracting links is also vital. Here you need to offer other website and social media owners something of value (other than money which is against TOS). Perhaps a simple exchange of links or the provision of some content, a widget or something else of value. The more links you gain as part of website promotion, the greater your chances of achieving long term sustainable ranking.

Simply put, it is perfectly possible to cheat the system in order to boost your website`s ranking in the Google search results but such SEO techniques are site killers. If you are going to invest in website promotion then this investment should result in your website being of real value to visitors. Cheating the system, in contrast, will lead to your website being regarded as untrustworthy. No traffic. No money. There is no magic bullet or overnight solution to get to the top of the Google search results. Search Engines such as Google and Yahoo exist as a service to the users of the internet and so to appear as the number one site in the search results and stay there for more than a couple of hours, your SEO techniques will really need to focus on proving that your website is a key part of the online community.

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