White or Black?
To help those SEOs who just don’t understand the ethical differences between black hat and white hat SEO (or Inbound Marketing), let’s ask ourselves a few questions. I think it’ll help bring some clarity to the issue.
Are you using SEO tactics that you would not admit to publicly because you know they violate the search engines’ webmaster guidelines? If so, you are probably black hat.
Are you adding concise, relevant page descriptions in the <title>, <meta> description and <h1> tags where none (or junk text) existed before? This is white hat.
Are you doing things that you would not dare tell Matt Cutts or Duane Forrester in a face-to-face meeting? If yes, then I’m guessing you lean toward black hat.
Are your pages filled with useful, authoritative, and interesting content to human readers? This is another example of white hat.
Are you hiding text in your webpages with HTML tag attributes “display: none”, using CSS to make the text incredibly small, or formatted in the same font color as the background? If so, it’s looking like you wear a black hat.
Do you write text that describes the subject matter of a digital image file and add it to the <img> tag’s alt text attribute? This is standard white hat work.
Are you sniffing user agent identities and showing the search engine crawlers a different set of content on your pages than you show to common web browser user agents in an attempt to build up artificial keyword relevance? Yes? Then your chapeau is definitely a black hat.
Are you adding more text-based content to a page to fully develop a theme, a topic, or demonstrate your authority of knowledge on a subject? This is reputable white hat behavior.
Are you creating a network of junk blogs or crummy, low-value websites across the Internet for the primary purposes of link farming to create the artificial impression to search engines that the linked site is more popular than it really is? This sounds like more black hat work.
Are you using social media to build a community of people interested in your product/service/content to reach out to them and help them learn more about your site/products/services/content? That’s solid white hat.
Is your intention to dupe or deceive the search engines or users of search engine results page data into believing your site is something that it is not? No question – this is black hat.
Lastly, do you believe because a certain segment of the human population consists of liars, cheaters, thieves, and charlatans that everybody else has (or at least you have) a right to behave in the same way? If so, you should probably think harder about the nature of ethics.