Search Marketing

What is Black, White, and Grey All Over?

The answer: Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO has been a buzz topic in Internet marketing for the past few years.  Using various techniques to help your website appear in the top of the search engine results, SEO analysts spend hours trying to prove to search engines that your website is more authoritative than the next doctor’s.

So what makes SEO black, white, and grey? Within the realm of search engine optimization, analysts refer to the different tactics they use as being “black hat”, “white hat”, or the grey area in between the two.  The difference is:

Black Hat SEO – cheats search engines into giving a website more authority over competitors by using techniques that they consider tricky, misleading, or unethical and can result in your website being blacklisted; blacklisted websites no longer appear within search engine results pages.  Examples of black hat techniques include disreputable backlinks, keyword stuffing, and creating ghost pages.

White Hat SEO – implements permitted optimization techniques outlined by major search engines, including Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.   White hat SEO does not put your website at risk of being blacklisted.  Examples of white hat techniques include optimizing page content, creating relevant page titles, and claiming and optimizing business listings.

Of course, some SEO companies straddle the grey area between the two, using various techniques that are both white and black hat, thereby increasing the risk a website may be banned.

What to Look for in a Trustworthy SEO Company

When searching for a search engine optimization professional, it’s easy to get confused or duped into a con, because the world of SEO is so complicated and some disreputable SEO companies unfortunately prey on their clients’ naivety. To avoid hiring a SEO firm that employs black hat techniques, ensure they engage in the following practices:

• Sets realistic goals and expectations – Honest SEO firms will not make any promises regarding the outcome of your optimization package.  SEO changes constantly; and as you’re optimizing your website, others are doing the same, making your shot at achieving page-one results more complex.  If a company offers you page-one results off the bat, queue the red flag; they may be using black hat techniques to improve your search engine ranking.

• Explains the steps involved in optimizing your site – Because your brand image and website are affected by the actions of the optimization company you hire, you want to be sure you understand the types of techniques they use.  If you’re hiring a firm that is solely engaging in white-hat optimization methods, they will have no problem explaining their process. 

• Communicates with you throughout the optimization process – Whether you’re conversing via phone or email, a reputable SEO firm will be open to your needs and will promptly answer your questions or concerns.  SEO professionals that are difficult to get ahold of are not only giving you poor customer service but may be afraid to explain their dishonest techniques.

• Provides you with analytics or reporting to show your progress – Reputable SEO firms will be proud to show you the results that their efforts have achieved and will automatically send you a full analysis of the positive effects their services have provided.  If your SEO professional claims they don’t provide clients with analytics or makes an excuse to hide them from you, be suspicious of the product they’re selling.

SEO continues to be a successful and worthwhile investment, provided you do your research and hire a reputable optimization professional.  When implemented correctly, SEO can have a positive impact on the success of your website, delivering new patients and improving your visibility on search engines. Keep these guidelines in mind when inquiring about optimization services. 

ProSites implements proven, white hat SEO techniques that deliver long-lasting, measurable results for your practice. If you’re interested in learning more about ProSites SEO services, please call (888) 932-3644 for a free consultation.

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