I've been asked a lot about SEO. There is quite a diversity in what this term and practice means. SEO is often considered the art and science of publishing your website, but in fact it has broader extensions. Also, the practice of SEO can be good, bad and outright nasty.
Three types of SEO:
I) Website Principles. This is often this is performed by a web designed. The purpose is to get your web pages constructed in a way that search crawlers can digest. Google has published basic guidelines on this.
II) Information Organization. A good website will contain a lot of valuable information organized in a natural way. The point is to create a simple pathway to expose your sites information. Many, if not most, websites fail here by either being too flat, with 1,000's of choices on one page, or too deep requiring several clicks to get where you want to be.
III) Data Publishing. Going beneath your webpages, most websites have a database. The powerful search engines really want that data and your webpages are mearly the way that you've exposed that information. There are many ways in which the search giants are taking data these days. Learn more at Programming Search Engines. themselves, there are more There are more ways to give information to search engines than you might realize.
The bulk of SEO practice I, basic principles and then they over-publish that with link-exchanges and the like.
Three SEO Players:
I) Web Designer. This is your traditional web designer who knows how to construct your webpages, create site maps and the overall principles to getting a website included by the search engines.
II) Publishers and Social Fiends. These persons find means of creating buzz towards your website. They know that the more inbound links, the better. They probably have several blogs and affiliations by which they will refer links to your site.
III) Information Architect. This is an individual which can look at the data your site has and find multiple ways of parsing it. They will construct an organized tree like structure to navigate your site. They recognize that search engines also apply data structuring techniques and may find ways of publishing raw data through means other than HTML web pages (as is often talked about in this blog).
Three Psychologies of SEO:
I) White Hat. This is a true, and ethical approach. White Hat's won't over-publish or misrepresent their websites or information.
II) Black Hat. A Black technique is one which is not likely to be invited by the search engines. There are many ways to go about this, but they are all considered wrong in the eyes of the search engine and likely the general user audience. In its worst form, this is considered webspam (as coined by Matt Cutts who heads up the webspam team at Google).
III) Gray Hat. Somewhere between the lines. It might be invited in the eyes of the search user, however it is a question, competitive technique. Since there are few official rules of engagement, many black-hats would consider their strategies to be gray.
It is known that Google will ban sites practicing some black-hat techniques. It is also believed that being associated with these sites could reduce your sites value