Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is an approach used to try and improve the position held on search engine results by an entity. It aims to make a company, product, or anything else more accessible and noticeable through the natural, organic results produced by a search engine as a means of garnering more visitors to a website.
SEO can be a significant traffic driver which is highly targeted and dynamic, and it can be quite cost effective, so it’s crucial for companies to get it right, or risk falling to the uncharted obscurity that is page 2 of google search results.
There are a variety of strategies companies use to optimise search engine results, some of them are more ethical and involve the generation of relevant and quality content, while others are a little shadier, and involve some slightly deceitful practices. These are known as white hat and black hat techniques.
White hat techniques are based around quality content. They aim to optimise search engine results by offering the audience what they are looking for. The use of relevant keywords, titles and metadata, as well as an abundance of high quality inbound links are all white hat techniques that will optimise search engine results in favour of your company that don’t dupe anyone or undermine what should be the ethical and fair nature of search engines.
Black hat techniques on the other hand focus purely on how to gain search engine result favourability, with total disregard for the human audience and the content they seek. Hidden content and spammed links which will elevate search engine rankings, link farming, and essentially any practice which goes against search engine guidelines to manipulate the way the relevance of a webpage will be perceived by a search engine are considered black hat techniques.
These practices are unethical, and they hinder the audiences attempts to find the most relevant content based on their search, which is detrimental to the consumer for obvious reasons, as well as being disadvantageous for the search engines themselves, as if they don’t provide the best and most relevant results, internet users are far more likely to switch over to a different search engine.
In an effort to counter thing, search engines have developed preventative measures to face these black hat techniques. Search engines are becoming increasingly adept at sniffing out link stuffing, keyword spamming, and content duplication, and not only stopping it, but also penalizing the websites responsible with lower search engine results.
By no means does this spell the end of search engine optimisation, but rather a new and more virtuous era of it, as offering high quality and sought after content, providing value, having connected social media presences and mobile compatibility are the new best practices for optimising your search engine results, which is better for search engines, companies, and the consumers.