Main Points

  • Search engines want to provide users with the most relevant search results possible.
  • This intention is thwarted by “black hat” attempts to “trick” the search engines into granting higher rankings.
  • You’ll do better in the long run by cooperating with Google by building content and link popularity in the right way.
  • Next: Building Content

“Organic” Listings

Google and the other search engines want to provide their users with the most relevant results possible, both in the free and paid listings. Over the years, some professional SEO’s have used a variety of “black hat” methods to “fool” the search engines into ranking a site highly. For instance, for a while, “doorway” pages were all the rage. SEOs added hundreds of pages to a site, each differing from the others only in having been optimized for a different keyword phrase. Doorway pages literally ruined AltaVista, which used to be the predominant search engine. It’s index became so cluttered with them that search results were useless.

The keyword meta tag is another example. It used to tell search engines what a page was about, but SEOs started stuffing the tag with far more keywords than were relevant to the page, so now that tag is ignored. There are many other examples, but the point is that “black hat” shortcuts are like a drug which may give you a short-term high, but which will hurt you in the long run. No matter how smart you are, Google employs hundreds of Ph.D.’s who, collectively at least, are smarter. You can fool some of them some of the time but you can’t fool all of them all of the time, and sooner or later, probably sooner, black hat methods will get your site penalized or banned.

Therefore I, and all ethical SEOs, employ only “white hat” methods. I’d say there are two main components of white hat SEO:

  • Content –having plenty of unique, relevant text in your site, with keywords properly placed in tags, headers, links, and body text,
  • Link Popularity – having other sites link to yours, especially well-established sites related to yours.

There are a lot of details, but that’s it in a nutshell.

Next: Building Content