Perhaps you’ve heard the terms black hat, grey hat and white hat when referring to SEO practices. The shades of hats are an attempt to strike an emotional response with people because everyone wants to be the guys in the white hats.

The fact is that anything you do to try and manipulate search engine rankings is black hat. But the rub is that Google actually has service support for webmasters so it’s a bit of a mixed signal from big G. On the one hand they are giving you pointers about your Alt and H1 tags, but on the other they are saying that if you do these things to try and manipulate results, then you are in violation of their terms of service.

So instead of getting involved in the 50 shades of grey hats, it might be more productive to discuss other SEO practices to embrace and to avoid.

You’ll want to know if your SEO company or individual is doing things that are perfectly legal, or if they are doing things that are illegal. For example, purposely spamming a competitor’s site with low quality links is illegal and a bad practice not right in anyone’s book, including the search engines.

Quality is what a good website should strive for in order to rank well. Is your site relying on quality to impress site visitors and the search engines? Or is your SEO using mass quantities of low quality links and poor content to drown the search engines in meaningless drivel? Quantity plays usually work temporarily until, wham, you get found out.

Finally, you hate spam in your inbox, don’t you? Why would anyone think that spam is OK to put on a website, or on an article that contains a link. Stay away from spam. No one likes it least of all the search engines that get clogged up with all that garbage that is worthless.