There are two ways to get a site to the top page of google. In the SEO world they are loosely called black hat and white hat. There are pros and cons to each method, which I will outline briefly here.

White Hat uses the guidelines provided by the search engines to get a site to rate well. The three major search engines, google, bing and yahoo, each have libraries dedicated to teaching webmasters how to get their sites to rank well and include warnings on what the search engine considers to be cheating. Their specific considerations vary but essentially they all say the same thing, make your site the kind of site that users will like to visit and link to from their own sites. The way the search engine determines how well the site is made, is by looking at the frequency and placement of keywords and the number and value of links that point to any given page within a site. So white hat SEO specialists create user friendly content on the web site but spend most of their time getting other web site owners to link to key pages on the sites they manage.

The pros to this approach are:

  • Once you hit page one, you stay at page one
    Even when the search engines change their algorithm, your ranking won’t change drastically
  • Nobody can report you for cheating
  • Competitors will have a very hard time un-seating you
    The cons to this approach are:
  • It takes a little longer to reach number one (actual time depending on the industry and region)
  • costs more

Black hat uses loopholes and short comings in the search engines algorithm to climb to the top page. Black Hat SEO specialists use tools like link farms to fool the search engines into thinking that there are several hundred links pointing to a site. They also use program generated text to fill pages text with keyword rich filler. Many times they will create one or two user friendly pages to mask the search engine friendly pages so that visitors to the site aren’t confused by what they are seeing.

The pros to this approach are:

  • Fast climb to page one
  • Usually inexpensive monthly fee without contracts

The cons to this approach are:

  • Each time the search engines close a loophole hundreds of black hat sites drop or completely disappear from their rankings
  • Competitors who suspect cheating can report sites to search engines for investigation
  • Sites found to be engaged in “cheating” can be suspended or banned from search engines

It is very rare that any SEO specialist falls entirely into one camp or the other, it’s more of a continuum than two camps. It’s important to understand where your SEO specialist falls on the spectrum because of the amount of risk inherent in each technique. Silver Lizard Design is pretty heavy on the White hat side of the spectrum. Contact us to get more information on how we can help you.

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