SEO Practices: Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO

Before selecting an SEO consultant you should that there are two sects
so to speak and are usually referred to as Black Hats or White Hats.

The difference between the two is a long discussion on ethics and risk calculation which I will try to summarize and provide additionally reading for.

There are numerous SEOs, blogs and websites that support the use of typically black hat practices. I personally am not one of them.

There are challenges when trying to measure the validity of using black hat practices when regarding a website. Jill Whallen at as this insightful article.

I don’t have to keep up with every tiny algorithm shift, or the latest technique that the engines haven’t caught onto yet. It’s completely irrelevant to what I do. In my biz, I simply have to be aware that search engines exist, understand how and why
people use them, and fix my clients’ sites so that there’s a good fit between the site, the user, and the search engine.

The above is true and poses two major problems for a small business that might be considering an SEO that is offering fast, simple results.

  1. If the SEO is really that good this is going to cost you a bundle because their service is in high demand.
  2. If the SEO is cheap, free or doing this “on the side” what guarantee do you have they are keeping up with all the latest algorithms? What is your recourse if a method they used today gets you banned in six months?

When selecting an SEO consultant you should take the time to follow up on what they’ve told you they know and what they will do for you. You should do as Google says and not only ask for references but, “talk to many SEOs, and ask other SEOs if they’d recommend the firm you’re considering.”

The consequences for not following the above suggestions as well as each of the ones mentioned here can be great.

Example #1: The High Cost Knowledgeable Black Hat SEO

The SEO: You’ve found the budget and land the best SEO consultant that knows the ins and outs, has the references and results, as well as respect though not agreement of practices from white hats.

The War: Six months after creaming your two competitors in the search results things couldn’t be better. Until one of them hires another black hat to counter your ways. You can now add to your budget time for espionage and counter attacks. Additionally you can be certain that your competitor will use this,

Example #2: The Not So Well Known SEO

The SEO: You settle for the SEO that has had some success doing this on the side and was not able to answer all of your questions. This SEO will likely not discuss in detail the SEO practices they use and use the term Meta Tags often. They also will not provide industry information for you to review. But, they sounded knowledgeable enough and promise its only a few changes and you’ll see some great results.

Banned: This not so well practiced SEO created a doorway page for your site that pushed you right to the top. What you did not know is this part-timer didn’t check the site in all browsers and that the search engines don’t see things the same as Internet Explorer. After a short time at the top the site was further reviewed and banned. This can be best illustrated by Google’s Matt Cutts, here.

In conclusion there will be SEO’s that can ague both sides of the coin, all I ask as a fellow full-time business owner is that you find an SEO that is willing to talk to you about the risks you will be taking with your business’ Internet presence.

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