In college I had a marketing professor ask the class, “What type of business are newspapers publishers in?”. My first thought was reporting news or entertainment. The professor corrected us all and said, “Attracting an audience so that they may sell advertising.”. That’s it. They want to provide a product that attracts readers. The number and type of readers they attract is the product they sell to advertisers.

So what business are search engines in? The same as newspapers. They are attracting an audience so that they may sell ad space to advertisers. Search engines attract an audience by providing relevant search results based on their audience’s submitted criteria(keywords). Just like we choose to read the newspapers(not tabloids) based on trust. We choose a search engine based on trust that they will provide a solution to our information problem. Search engines, especially Google, go to great lengths to make sure they earn and maintain our trust.

SEO is not a standard practice

There are many different techniques to help search engines rank your site. The SEO community often classifies these techniques as “white hat”, “black hat” or a shade of gray. Just like in the movies, the good guy usually wears the white hat, while the bad guy wears the black hat. This is how search engines see these techniques. However, there are some techniques that are not quite black hat and not quite white hat but a shade of gray. They techniques are like just barely getting through a yellow light. You know you should of stopped, but you were in a hurry. A police officer, depending on his/her mood could pull you over. If so, you most likely will just get a warning.

White Hat SEO

There are a variety of techniques that help search engines rank a website that search engines recommend. If you follow these techniques, search engine algorithms will reward you with better rankings. White hat practices take time to both develop and to rank high on search engines. However, sites with only white hat SEO techniques will rank high on search engines and ultimate perform better than black hat techniques.

Black Hat SEO

Just like you would think, these are techniques of which try to trick the search engines into ranking a site higher than search engine engineers would like. As you can guess, search engines hire really smart people. Black hat techniques will rank a site high in the search engines very quickly. However, it is very likely that someday your site will be discovered. Then your site will disappear from search engines faster than your site climbed the rankings. Once a site is banned from the search engines, it’s very difficult to get back on the search engine’s good side. Might as well pack up and go home.

You might ask, “There are billions of websites on the web. How will the search engines discover me?”. There are a couple of ways. The search engines have software looking for specific black hat techniques that alert engineers to red flags on web sites. Another way to be discovered is that your competitor may snitch on you. There are ways to report search engine abuse to search engines. Trust me, search engines take these reports seriously.


You may have already received the phone call, email or banner ad promising top 10 rankings. These are black hat techniques. You will rank high, just like they claim. However, in the long term you will not be happy. Once they collect your money, your site’s black seo tricks may be discovered by the search engines and disappear all together. Then you’ll be calling a firm like Aslan to fix it.