SEO Part 4: Black Hat and White Hat Basic Principles
When you get to talking about SEO and how it’s done, there’s a couple of lingo-y jargon terms that can help you understand what we’re talking about. That is “black hat” and “white hat”.
Black hat is generally speaking, how to take advantage of the system. How to scam the algorithm and get ranked quickly and maybe not according to Google’s rules. Obviously cheating the system puts you ahead but there’s a reason we call it cheating. And if Google catches you at that, they may choose to de-index you completely. There was a fairly high profile, at least in our industry, instant of that a major retailer (I think it may have been JC Penney’s) was absolutely de-indexed for a number of weeks, maybe even months, because an SEO firm that they hired used black hat techniques. And Google said you’re gaming the system and these are our terms of service, out of the pool. That’s pretty scary.
White hat is following Google’s guidelines to a “T”, pure as the driven snow, don’t do anything wrong.
Truth be told, this is life and it’s a gradient. So my personal approach is focus on what hat, maybe dabble in the lightest of grays, go with the spirit of the rules if not the letter of the law and stay away from black hat. Because whatever short term burn you might get, chances are it’ll bite you in the long run.
And besides which, Google is always improving that algorithm and that loophole probably will just turn around and close on you. A couple of years ago you may have heard about the panda and penguin updates and people were freaking out. They use to be ranked really high and all of a sudden overnight, literally overnight, when Google changed that algorithm, their ranking went from first page and plummeted. Gone! Entire businesses, businesses I know locally, just vanished in a matter of weeks. They were selling SEO services to their clients and their technique, because they weren’t playing fair really, just vanished and all of a sudden their clients said the results stopped coming, let alone what happened to those clients’ businesses. I mean they took a hit too.
So, play by the rules. Stick on the white hat side. There’s a huge dissertation on that, here’s the basic principle.
Think about Google’s job. Forget their system. Think about what their purpose is. Their purpose is to take me, the searcher, to what I’m looking for. So I want to know everything there is to know about National Parks in Alaska. Then they don’t’ want to take me to some super-duper optimized page that’s just packed with keywords about National Parks in Alaska. They want to take me to actual content about National Parks in Alaska.
And Google everyday is getting better and better and better at this. So what does that mean for us building the website? Make high quality content. If you are the answers, then Google’s job is to serve you to the people. So go after high quality content, be valuable, and Google will want you at the top of the game.
So don’t focus on gaming the system, focus on serving the system.