Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Black hat vs. White hat

So, the story kicks off from the early days of online marketing. Search engines saw the light of the day and so began SEO or search engine optimization. The search engines have some algorithms to give rankings to the umpteen websites in the internet. On the basis of these rankings, the web pages are displayed when the relevant keyword is typed by a user. Higher rankings implies the top slots of the search engines, which can be almost accurately assumed to fetch more traffic to the website and that simply means more chances of revenue! Needless to say, all the websites wanted to rate high on the search engines and the trend continues even now. An example of a search engine would be the very famous Google search engine.

White hat and black hat

The techniques employed to get higher rankings by search engines varies widely. While some stuck on to the diligent method of improving the quality, some were lured by some other easier unethical ways. Like every other field, online marketing too had some ‘white’ and ‘black’ techniques used. Yes, this is what we generally categorize as white hat and black hat. ‘White hat’ techniques are the techniques used in online marketing or in SEO that comply with the regulations of the search engine and do not cross the ethical boundaries. As obvious as it is, black hat is just the opposite of white hat. Recent times have seen some other fancy terms pass around, one of them being ‘grey hat’. Everyone has their own take on it- purists feel ‘grey hat’ is just an excuse of some faint hearted netizens and believe everything which isn’t white is ‘black’. Without diverting the discussion to ‘grey’ matters, let’s just ignore this term temporarily. Some of the black hat techniques are- cloaking (where some other websites are displayed in the search engine) and hidden links in websites etc. basically, all of them simply fool the search engine and make their way through.

Black hat techniques are awesome in functionality. What more, it works and it works quickly. It has a potential of procuring more than $100,000 in a quarter of the year! These should be enough reasons for some ‘weak on ethics’ to get into this unethical craft. Moreover, on the internet, somehow such things are called the ‘smart work’ and there are no stringent rules against it. Perhaps a white hatter may tell you more about how frustrating it is to watch unworthy people have thrice the bank balance of a hardworking person like him or her. White hat techniques are slow and yield results only to the deserving ones. Recently, sale of ‘high ranking links’ had to face a lot of rebuke from Google and some of the clients lost their previously high rankings due to this. In future too, stringent measures are expected against ‘black hat’ techniques and soon the ‘black’ websites may be banned!

To conclude, this non-conclusive debate; White hat techniques are undoubtedly the best method, especially in the long run and for a safe, reliable and respectful web journey.