Whitehat SEO versus Blackhat SEO

The showdown between whitehat SEO and blackhat SEO is heating up and search engines are backing the whitehats.

Whitehat and blackhat SEO (Search Engine Optimization) are two different (and normally opposing) views of how to do search engine optimization. Whitehats are those website designers that “play nice” and try to follow all of the search engine guidelines to optimize their site. Blackhats are where website designers use backdoors, cloaking, and other tricks to optimize sites. This description was found in the Dec. 19, 2005 Newsweek article entitled “Hotwiring your Search Engine.”:

[Search engines] deplore the so-called black-hat SEOs who use unsavory techniques, like spamming the Web with dummy pages full of links, in an effort to make their sites appear popular. But they 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.

In further explanation of what search engine optimizers really are they say:

If search-engine rankings are supposed to represent a kind of democracy—a reflection of what Internet users collectively think is most useful—then [search-engine optimizers] are the Web’s lobbyists.

Matt Cutts, a key player in the SEO battles at Google, has this to say about what happens to blackhat sites that are caught.

The article mentions that the blackhat site doesn’t rank on Google and implies that it may be because Google can take longer to rank sites. I’m happy to say that’s not the reason; this domain was already caught for spamming (both algorithmically and manually) before the Newsweek article came out. I don’t know what else to say about this other than “woohoo!” back to the team at Google that works on quality.

It is nice to note that SEO isn’t considered spam by search engines like Google. Matt goes on to say:

Google does not consider SEO to be spam. 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 (without trying to take shortcuts).

Personally, I agree. In a presentation I gave a few weeks ago on Search Engine Optimization I made the statement that SEO = Good Website Design. That’s it. Period. End of Discussion. Unfortunately, many people (including so called web designers) do not know what good website design is.

Using whitehat methods will help you move up on the search engines without the fear of looking over your shoulder the whole time wondering when Google is going to ban your site for unethical practices.