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2.5 Learn about search engine optimization

You may hear the term ‘SEO’ come up when you’re creating your website and learning about how search engines work. SEO stands for either the process of “search engine optimization” or a person who performs this process, a “search engine optimizer.”

While there are many legitimate ways to optimize a site for search engines, some webmasters may utilize deceptive techniques to try and trick search engines and users. Legitimate SEO is often referred to as "whitehat," while the more unsavory, illicit techniques are often called "blackhat." It’s important to distinguish between the two methods since blackhat SEO actually damages your site and reputation, instead of improving its ranking in organic search results.

Best practices: Whitehat SEO

These techniques aim to improve a site by focusing on the visitors instead of on ranking higher. Examples of good, whitehat techniques include creating organic, high-quality content and adding good descriptive tags covered in the previous module. They adhere to Webmaster Guidelines, which your site should follow to rank well and organically in Google Search.


Bad practices: Blackhat SEO

Illicit techniques that manipulate search engines to try to rank a site higher are considered blackhat techniques that violate our Webmaster Guidelines. Do not pay for links pointing to your site to be placed on the internet with the intent of passing PageRank and manipulating Google Search. These links may be called sponsored links or paid advertising, hidden in HTML, or inserted as optimized anchors in articles, comments, and footers. Learn to avoid such practices on our link schemes page.

If you’re looking to hire a SEO, make sure the SEO does not use blackhat techniques. Not even the most experienced SEO can guarantee a certain rank for your site. Establish upfront your goals, how the SEO will reach the goals, and metrics used to evaluate success of the goals. See our Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide and Search Engine Optimization articles for detailed guidance. Be careful! Thoroughly conduct your own research and compare different options before hiring a SEO.


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