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Why White Hat SEO Wins Over Black Hat SEO Every Time

I don’t care about the moral or un-moral implications that seem to travel the web these days about what is right or what is wrong as far as internet marketing. The web is the web. We are lucky to have it. In a free culture, we will always have the seedy, less-desirable elements that float our way. Such is freedom.

When it comes to bad behavior on the net, overwhelmingly it is spam that annoys most of us. We really don’t feel like deleting unwanted messages from our in boxes on a daily basis. We are also tired managing (or is it managing us?) our spam filters. Spam filters are a good try, but they too waste our time when we have to dig through the spam folder to find Aunt Millie’s invitation to Easter.

To me the only things that are “bad behavior” on the net are as follows:

1. Email spam.

2. Comment spam on someone’s blog.

3. Cloaked or stealth pages that re-direct to a porn site or a financial scam site.

What do these have in common? They all affect a human being. We have to take time to delete spam in our inbox, spam off our blogs, and hopefully, not have our 14 year old daughters directed to some porn site when they thought they were getting the latest must-have for AOL’s instant messenger.

If I could employ a black hat strategy that would net me $100,000 a month selling worthwhile and honest products, I’d do it all day long and smile all the way to the bank. Unfortunately, with the exception of a few people (relatively speaking), black hat strategies tend to work for a while, then seem to be ineffective once Google and the other search engines catch on and neuter it’s methods.

Remember keyword stuffing in the meta tags back a few years ago? That worked for a while. Common sense should have told us that if you can stuff 100 keywords in your page, so can the guy across town. You both have the “same” or similar page according to Google.

If keyword stuffing worked today I would do it. I don’t care what a purist may say. It’s my page and if Google wants to pick it up and rank it, so be it. No one has a right to tell me how to design and populate my web pages. But like most methods used to trick the search engines, they end up being detected and weeded out of the system. I’m not saying cloaked pages don’t work – they do. It is entirely possible to fool the spider bots. However, Google knows this and look at suspect pages with a real live human. Game over for your domain.

My point is I haven’t adopted a self-richeous philosophy about what is right or wrong for the Web. That’s for each of us to figure out. I think black hat techniques eventually help white hat techniques. As Google and the others get wise to new tricks and methods used to fool their spiders, it ultimately makes white hat methods all the more relevant and long lasting for those who employ them.

What is White Hat?

Links. And more links. I know some of you keyword density guys (and gals) may shiver at that thought, but my page with just a smiley face on it will out rank your “tweaked” page if I have enough inbound links.

I was fortunate to speak with Leslie Rohde of OptiLink Software a few weeks ago. After answering a few of my SEO questions and elaborating on a few of his own, he offered the same conclusion: he could get a page to rank with enough links just as long as it has a “title” on it!

Here are a few facts to consider.

The World Wide Web was conceived and built on – surprise – linking. Doh!

When Google’s founders wrote their white paper on Search, they believed then and still do today that ultimately links, pointing to a particular web page, are the best way to determine that pages’ relevancy and importance to the web at large.

We should take a clue.

Here are typical White Hat strategies to get ranked in the major search engines.

1. Determine what keyword(s) your web page needs to rank for. This is done with keyword research with a program like Ad Words Analyzer by Jeff Alderson or Overture’s keyword tool. Find out what keywords are being searched the most each month in Google and Yahoo, then try to optimize for them (or the less competitive terms if it makes sense).

2. Get 100’s of links with the anchor text as the clickable link. For example, if I want to rate better for the term “golf tournament”, I would ask other websites to link to my page with the term “Golf Tournament”. It may seem too simple but that is the SEO landscape today.

3. Once a links campaign is in place and is actively growing, web masters understand that on-page factors such as the title, H1 tags, internal linking with keywords as or part of the linking text, and good content with natural occurrences of the keyword(s) will help the page become more relevant to Google.

4. A “link to us” page. This is a great time saver for the web master and should be employed on any web site that wants to grow its linking base automatically.

5. Repeat the above often.

There are many ideas about how to get ranked and stay ranked in Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Some are right on; some are way off or just plain false. If you are starting from scratch and embarking on a SEO campaign for your web site, “Google” the following people and follow their lead:

Michael Campbell
Brad Fallon
Leslie Rohde
Brad Callon
Jeff Alderson
John Reese

If you are to hire an SEO consultant, be sure that his or her philosophy includes a vigorous linking campaign for your web site. I know it doesn’t sound sexy as “special pages” or modifying all your pages to “attract” search engines, or that they will submit to 500 directories, etc. All that stuff is good as long as they are not doing any thing the search engines frown on. However, that in itself is not enough to get your page on the first page of Google and stay there. Enough links will.

Rob Oresteen is a web consultant based in the Chicago area. http://www.blogsforbucks.com

© 2006 Rob Oresteen

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