You’ve probably heard people talking about black, grey and white hat SEO methods. We don’t mean to spoil the party, but anything you do to try and manipulate rankings is black hat. That’s because it is against Google’s Terms of Service to do any search engine manipulation.
That being said, SEO is not dead. If your competition is doing it, then you should keep up with them if you want to be found on the Internet for searches that pertain to your business and goals. The questions one should ask are not whether the SEO is black hat, white hat or gray hat, the questions that should be asked are if the SEO activities are legal or illegal, focus on quantity vs. quality and are spammy or not.
The overarching theme addressed by these questions is to reinforce that quality is crucial. It satisfies the search engines’ missions to present the best answers. Best answers usually are the ones that are well-thought out and are made up of quality elements. Spam is low quality anything that is of no value to the user nor any value to search engines because it clogs their memories with worthless stuff. People use spam to be manipulative…spam articles, spam links, spam emails. Focusing on presenting good value will keep you in the good graces of all search engines.
And it goes without saying that doing anything untoward that will have the effect of harming your competitors is just illegal. If found the site, site owner and the site’s webmaster can get in trouble. The search engines just track back the footprints to an IP address and the violators can be quickly found out and prosecuted.
We always advise playing by the rules and especially playing better than everyone else. That’s what a pro is for.