I am often asked when talking to clients if I can guarantee that they will be at the top of the search engines, and I am quite quick to say no. There are many companies out that do make promises about getting your site to number 1, but beware of the risks.

Last week I met with a client that had already spent several thousand dollars with two different companies that promised them results and on both occasions failed to deliver. This client is in an industry where his market does all their research on line, so it was very important for him to be near the top.

I made it quite clear to him that we would help his site get to the top and explained the process that we would take, but I also made it clear that it may take some time and there are no guarantees. I then found out that his biggest competitor that was at the top of Google was blacklisted by Google yesterday (also know as Google Death). This means that as far as Google is concerned that site no longer exists, and is due to using methods to try and “trick” Google into ranking you higher. This is also known as Black Hat search engine optimisation.

White Hat optimisation by contrast, is about optimising the site using best practice web design and development methods in conjunction with getting quality sites within the same topic area to link to you. Sounds easy…. but very time consuming.

It's important to understand that the main objective of a search engine is to provide the most relevant websites based on the terms that you are searching for. While it is a little more complicated than this, ultimately to get good search engine results you need

1. to have a website that has lots of content on the topics of your keywords and

2. lots of inbound links from websites within those same topics areas that the search engines have already decided are quality sites

Black Hat techniques may give better shorter term results but the down side of blacklisting is far too great a risk. White Hat techniques require more work, but the results last a lot longer.

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