SEO techniques can be divided into two categories, the ethical and the not so ethical, literally white hat and black hat. We're not talking about some cult of rallying people rather its a loose categorization of SEO techniques. A technique that follows search engine guidelines and doesn't involve any deception, including making sure that content that a search engine ranks and that a user views is identical, is considered white hat. White hat will usually be content that was created with the interest of the visitor in mind, not the search engine, but was then made easily accessible for search engine indexing. Its methods are usually approved by the various search engines. White hats will usually produce results that may last a long time.

Black hat SEO, sometimes referred to as spamdexing, tries to increase its ranking in ways that may touch on shadiness . These techniques usually aim to optimize a site by altering the logical view that a search engine will have over the contents of a page. Cloaking is a technique that will show a different page depending on who looked for it, a visitor or a search engine. Sometimes a site may have hidden or camouflaged text that a visitor wont be able to view yet the search engine picked it up and that's why the visitor was redirected to that particular site. in other cases a website may place specific keywords within a page the goal being to raise the keyword count or variety of the page. A web crawler will then view it as a relevant page to the said keywords and it will be ranked accordingly. For example, a scamming credit card company that may want to net as many unsuspecting clients as possible may place hidden text correlating a dream cruise on the Caribbean, on his page. The hope is that he will be listed as a dream getaway site and receive many visits from wealthy people looking for that special break. Older versions of search engines simply tallied up the amount of times a keyword appeared on a page to determine relevance levels. Most modernized search engines wouldn't fall for something like this because they have the capabilities to examine a page to figure out what the sites true goal is.

Black hats don't usually expect their results to be long term as they figure their site may eventually be banned or not listed at all once the search engine catch on to their games.

Then there are gray hats. Neither pure white nor totally black. Usually these techniques can be looked at either way, yet there may be some risks involved. Buying links is a good example. Though Google is against the business of link selling and buying, many people do utilize this method to get links back to their website. A solution to turn this into a white method might be to just buy out the whole site!

A search engine may penalize a site once they discover its black hat games. They may lower the rankings or completely eliminate the site from their listings all together. If this does happen, all is not completely lost. A site does have the opportunity to fix their pages up and remove the deceptions or whatever it was and be restored to the search engine listings.

However you choose to go about your SEO techniques is up to you. There are many credible SEO teams out there able to help you optimize within the search engine guidelines. If you unfortunately find yourself stuck in the muck, try to get yourself out as soon as you can!