Black hat vs White Hat defined

Seo’s talk in ways that are hard enough to understand, but sometimes we use nomenclature straight out of a John Wayne movie.  The good guys wear white hats, and the bad guys wear black hats.  In SEO terms, we warn that ‘black hat’ techniques can lead to a possible temporary boost in ranking, but we stress that solid long term success requires the use of white hat techniques.

Bing has published a series of advisories for webmasters as follows;

  1. Use valid XHTML or HTML, use the W3C validator.
  2. The <title> tag should contain between 5 and 65 characters.
  3. the Meta Description tag should contain between 25 to 150 characters.
  4. the Meta Keywords tag should contain less than 874 characters.

I don’t know what the penalties on Bing are for violating these guidelines, but I can say that any

good promotion should not be overwhelming to either man or machine.  For example, a dry cleaner that uses every popular keyword including ‘bikini pics’ is not really being honest.  Black hat techniques don’t depend on honesty, they only seek traffic.

The problem for a legitimate dry cleaner is that the traffic that comes from ‘bikini pics’ does not lead to revenue.  The search engines can tell this in advance by heuristically comparing the keywords to the real content and message of your site and they assign a value to the keywords as they pertain to your website, and where your website does not match the hype, that hurts the value they give to your website.

There are two google categories that websites with shady optimization techniques can fall into, the google penalty box, and banned.  The banned category is generally reserved for websites that either went so far overboard in the black hat techniques that it is ridiculous, and websites that generally got hacked.  Web sites big and small get hacked, even I had a web-site hacked, where I had failed to apply all the controls on user input that I should have.  A Malaysian hacker using javascript injection managed to replace my clients home page with a spoof page.  There were two funny things about this situation, I didn’t care, because my insolent customer had failed to pay his bill with me, and when I caught it, in only a few hours, no penalty got applied to the website I managed.  So I took it down entirely.  Hah!  But besides being banned, there is the penalty box, where url’s promoted with lousy SEO techniques end up.  We have worked with these situations, and with google to get these URL’s out of the penalty situation.