Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and internet marketing itself, is often divided into two different camps: white and black hat. Now, before we get started explaining the two, let me point out that the spammers who constantly post garbage on your blogs, exploit the holes you don’t patch, and who try and squeeze a viagra link anywhere you let them are doing black hat SEO – so keep that in mind before we offer some explanations that get you all excited about rocketing up the Google Page Rank charts. Whitehat SEO, the more ethical of the two forms of SEO, relies on strictly and accurately following the terms of search engines and website directories, largely by generating links organically. Blackhat SEO, on the other hand, is less ethical, significantly less effective as a long-term business strategy, but often valuable for its speed. To distinguish between the two different forms of SEO, it is worth going back to their roots. White and black hat are not divisions that were thought up specifically for SEO (or hacking), but ideas that originated in western movies. Drawing inspiration from the John Wayne styled heroes of the past, ethical SEOs branded themselves as "whitehat" after the type of cowboy hat the western hero often wore. In contrast, the blackhat SEO world embraced the villainous style - dark clothing and a distinct black cowboy hat. Blackhat SEO is lucrative. There is no doubt about it – if it wasn’t making someone money, people wouldn’t do it. From spamdexing to indirect and somewhat stealthy blog commenting, there are hundreds of ultra-effective ways for blackhat SEOs to boost their websites' online influence and search engine rankings. Blackhat-powered websites typically grow rapidly, gaining hundreds of indexed links within days, and occasionally hundreds of thousands within just weeks. This is generally carried out through the use of automated software – you didn’t think all those comments were done manually, did you? From forum spamming applications to blog auto-commenter tools, the blackhat world has developed its own ultra-lucrative software industry. Of course, as the actions are generally automated and carried out in bulk, blackhat SEO tends to have little long-term value as search engines can easily pick up on the traces and linking footprints and de-index the offending website. Whitehat SEO, while having only a fraction of the rapid growth potential that blackhat SEO boasts, is more valuable to online marketers and businesses that are focused on long-term internet goals. While blackhat-powered pages tend to climb through search engine rankings relatively quickly, they are forever at risk of being permanently removed from the search engine results altogether. While this is not a concern for hit-and-run style online businesses (which doesn’t apply to any of those of you hosting with us, I’m sure), it most certainly is for businesses that are focused on long-term branding and internet marketing (which should be everyone hosting with us). If your business values long-term clients, customers, and branding efforts, it is clear that whitehat SEO is the right choice to make. Despite the longer climb up the ladder and slower movement through the ranks, it is the only choice that offers long-term security.