On these pages I cover how to do many SEO activities along with, where relevant, how they came to be and how you can get them wrong.
The world of SEO has changed beyond recognition over the last ten years in two key ways:
To do many of these today risks getting your website banned from the results of the major search engines.
Why there is so much conflicting advice on the internet about SEO?
In the early years of the internet search engines were fairly basic systems and programmers were quick to find methods which would exploit this.
It would go something like this: "Oh, Search engines count the number of links your website has and use it as a ranking factor? Fine, we'll make programmes that create tens of thousands of websites and add links to them". They would then go on to sell the famous 20,000 links for $50 type packages.
Such activities became known as Black Hat SEO because they exploit a search engine weakness to get rankings rather than build quality content that deserves to rank. But search engines would gradually figure out how to spot these schemes, discounting them or even penalising those who used them.
The result of this history is an ocean of conflicting advice across the internet as to what is allowed versus what actually works. However the broad definitions of SEO types remain the same:
Here's an example. Google says any activity aimed soley at manipulating your rankings in the search engines can lead to a penalty. Well let's say you produced a stunning and useful infographic and shared it with others. All you ask of them is that they create a link back to the original source on your site if they use it.
So why are you doing this? Is it just because you are just a really nice guy or gal? No, the fact that you ask for a link, or even that you brand the infographic, shows that you are carrying out this activity for SEO purposes. Theoretically that makes it Black Hat but in reality, because your infographic also makes the net a better place, this is an acivity that Google doesn't frown upon ... yet. So perhaps that makes it Grey Hat?
I also define a fourth type:
Many Black Hat companies still exist today selling Black Hat packages (such as 17,000 links for $50) which are now really Useless Hat packages but they exploit the confusion many webmasters have as to what SEO actually is and how exactly it should be done.
Those who do genuine Black Hat SEO that actually works now have to go to extraordinary lengths to hide what they are up to - sometimes substantially more effort and cost than if they were just to get on and did the White Hat work ... but old habits die hard.
The greatest problem with even these Black Hat schemes is that search engines do eventually figure them out and when they do the whole house of cards comes crashing down ... leaving the website owner to start from square one.
Well I list them here but as a general piece of advice ignore anything about SEO written more than two years ago unless you can find more up to date confirmation that it works and it is clean. Beware any scheme which explains how to hide something from Google. If you need to go hiding what you're doing Google (and the other search engines) will eventually figure it out and your site will be toast!
I'm Tim Hill, a Search Engine Optimisation and Online Marketing specialist. I created this site to help others understand that SEO is not a mysterious black art!.
If your a newbie try the Getting Started in SEO page, otherwise feel free to dig around and learn more.