Search Engine Optimization: What Hat Do You Wear?
Search engine optimization is the process of preparing a website in order to improve its chances of being ranked highly in search engine rankings. The companies or professionals that conduct provide SEO services are not associated with search engines, but are an industry on their own. There are three popular SEO ethics classifications, often referred to as “hats”: white hat SEO and Black hat SEO. However, there is also a discussion of grey hat SEO, which is simply a combination of both factions (white hat acting unethical or black hat acting ethical). White hat SEO is viewed as ethical while black hat is viewed as being unethical.
The major difference between the two factions is whereas white hat tends to conform to search engine guidelines, thereby ensuring that the content a search engine indexes and subsequently ranks is the content a user will see, black hat does not strictly follow the guidelines set out by search engines and uses techniques that can be considered opaque technology. Examples of these techniques include using hidden text, cloaking (providing content that is different than presented in a user’s browser), repetition of keywords, using unrelated keywords, and re directing pages.
Search engine optimization companies (white or black hat) have a direct impact on search engine indexing and ranking. The results that users view are directly impacted by SEO services and practices. Ethical or not, following search engine guidelines or not, SEO firms alter the search results of search engines in most cases for the better, however, SEO can also have a negative impact on search rankings as well.