Yesterday, I ran into a post over at The NetFool than ran down a few Black Hat SEO Techniques. Black Hat techniques always get me thinking. Using the term "Black Hat", automatically assumes the existence of White, Gray and theoretically "No Hat" techniques.
No Hat SEO
Techniques listed under this category are about the only ones that won't have someone calling you a spammer, black hat, or anything of the sort. It is involves using an "if you build it, they will come" technique. Sending one email to your sister about your new site would automatically eject you from this group. Play around a little and you can make specific posts come up first in your site's own search engine. Give yourself a damn cookie.
The Upside: You are the nicest, unspammiest person on the internet. Congrats, you succeeded in pissing off no one.
The Downside: You are your only visitor to your site. But if you use proxy, you can trick yourself. But that would be black hat.
White Hat SEO
Techniques under this category involve a lot of manual typing in forms and changing the structure and content of your site. You may type the same information into each form, but as long as you are using your fingers instead of software, you are alright with most people. If you start ranking higher for another company for their product's name, you will be called a black hat. If you can type real fast, Google will assume you are a black hat and put you in the sandbox for being aggressive.
The Upside: You are a god to the no hat's. It's like being the only kid on the block with a moped. Don't fool yourself.
The Downside: You are instantly suspicious to anyone who is not an SEO.
Gray Hat SEO
Now we're talking. Now this is where you start getting traffic and making money. And this is the best place to be. After all, black is the absence of all light. One step toward white makes you gray. There are a lot of techniques milling around in here.
The Upside: You are way past the damn labels. You don't care about being "god" any more. In fact, with the results going into your pocket book, you would rather turn the volume down on your accomplishments a bit.
The Downside: You don't get to scare pimpled teenagers in forums with your ominous dark fedora.
Black Hat SEO
Continuing with the definition that black is the absence of all light, you have succeeded in setting everyone's homepage to your website, all search engine queries redirect to a page on your site, and you can retire in exactly 5 minutes.
The Upside: You are now the most sought after person on the net because you made it that way.
The Downside: Your site just crashed and everyone is getting a little spinning icon, so you can forget the retiring part.
Ass Hat SEO
You hang out at conferences. You know all the techniques. You use them to trounce newbies in forums. But you are little more than a no hat. Results. You don't need no stinking results.
The Upside: If you can trick yourself into believing your own facade, you can boost your ego a bit.
The Downside: Look at the name, for god sakes. Your the only one who doesn't know you've been labeled.
What is simply comes down to is this: if your site ranks for anything, you or your readers have used SEO with or without knowing it. Stop your bitching. Stop your labels. Just get off your ass and do what everyone else has done to build a well trafficked site. Work, move forward, do what needs to be done and let the whining babies whine. They will always find something new to cry about.