Week 4: SEO Basics: Be the Lone Ranger.

The Lone Ranger and Silver
Figure 1: The Lone Ranger and Silver

We’ll get to SEO in a sec, but lets talk about hats. There are white hats and black hats, and of course grey and tan hats.  Tan and grey hats can’t make up their mind to be black or white hats, so lets just stick to the important ones. White and Black.

White hats: Bold Ambitious, willing to put in the hard work to earn a day’s wage.

Black  hats: Dark, shifty, willing to scam you if it makes them an easy buck.

Lets look at important hat wearers:

White hats: Charles Bronson and the Lone Ranger, memorable people.

Black hats: who knows, they lost anyways.

Now what does this tell us about SEO. Well simple be a white hat and hire white hats! No one remembers the black hats.

There are good practices and bad practices when it comes to most things in life.  And generally bad practices when found out, will make you lose respect and the hat off your head.  While good practices will make people look for your hat and build your respect.


SEO is no different.

When it comes to the cowboys’ code of SEO (That’s Search Engine Optimization for you townsfolk), it’s pretty simple. And the Honorable L.P. and S.B. Google, Sheriffs of Search even wrote it down(Google, n.d.):

  1. Build places for people, not maps (search engines).
  2. Don’t deceive people
  3. Avoid nasty tricks
  4. Be your own kind of Hero.

I’ll talk briefly about these, and give a little background, but don’t worry I’ll write more details in the rest of my SEO Basics blog series (this one’s the title scene, partner).

Build places for People

This should be a no-brainer, but there’s always a little rascal in us wanting to game the system. And sometimes the rascals like to change the map to trap unsuspecting tourists. Don’t do that. Build nice, clean and working web pages that are places of information, aide and commerce. But how do I know if the farmhand I hired is building up my pages the way they should or if they’re just a rascal?

Don’t deceive people

First, make sure they aren’t deceiving people or mapmakers. Some common deceptions are: Keyword stuffing, Hidden text and Cloaking (Google, n.d. and SiteProNews, n.d.).

Keyword stuffing is like repeating yourself 100 times. And the sheriff gets mighty annoyed by that.  If you’ve got something to say, just say it a few times, don’t go saying:

“I sell baby seal skin golf club covers! Baby seal skin golf club covers are the best. Did I mention baby seal skin golf club covers? Baby seal skin golf club covers are the smoothest golf club covers made with baby seal skin.”

It’s just unnatural. And wrong. So don’t do it and don’t have your webpage coded like that, either.

Hidden Text and Cloaking are just like what melodramatic baddies do, hide the truth. If you have to hide your true content and website, no one wants to go there in the first place.

Saloon Doors
Figure 2: Saloon Doors

Avoid nasty tricks

Some rascals also like to use nasty tricks and here are a few (Google, n.d. and SiteProNews, n.d.):

Doorway pages: Building doors across town that look like the saloon but lead to your house is just plain mean. Build your house instead, and let people tell others how great it is.

Mirror sites, duplicate content and link farms: And don’t build two houses, or places that point to 100 other places just to confuse people. Just build one good one.

Be your own kind of Hero.

There is only one person that offers what you have, and that’s you. Be your own kind of Hero, and show other’s you’re an expert in your field. Make great places for people to visit and do business.  And hire a good farmhand who can help manage the place.

And being a hero just takes hard work. Some great sites will help you optimize your investment (“Adwords”, n.d.) and get a good lay of the land (“Glossary”, n.d.).

Have you ever used black hat techniques, even if on accident? Were there repercussions?

What kind of hero do you want to be? What are some techniques you’ve used in your business life to exemplify that?



1.) Google Webmaster Guidelines. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2014, from https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769

2.) Don’t Risk Your Rankings With Unethical SEO – SiteProNews. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2014, from http://www.sitepronews.com/2007/04/17/dont-risk-your-rankings-with-unethical-seo/ 

3.) The Secret Power of the AdWords Search Terms Report. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2014, from http://unbounce.com/ppc/improving-quality-score-adwords-search-terms-report/

4.) Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Glossary | Anvil Media, Inc. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2014, from http://www.anvilmediainc.com/about/digital-marketing-resources/search-engine-marketing-glossary/

Fig. 1.) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lone_ranger_silver_1965.JPG

Fig. 2.) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saloondeur.jpg




3 responses to “Week 4: SEO Basics: Be the Lone Ranger.”

  1. One more time!

    I loved your analogy with the hats. This is a great illustration!

    I managed a website whose creator accidentally did a black hat technique (mirrored sites). The intent was to forward one URL to another, but somehow he just duplicated the sites. Google did not like it and our search results were poor.

    I want to be the kind of hero who develops useful, interactive and engaging websites. Aside from creating content for newsletters that would give small business owners helpful tips (this would automatically feed into our site), I have created a survey and assessments for websites that users can take which provides them immediately with the results from their answers. In regards to the assessments, users can work on the area their results suggested them to focus on improving, and come back after a while to retake the assessment to see if they’ve improved.

    • I like the survey and assessment for users, feedback is important. Ever so often I have a good idea, and it turns out horribly unhelpful. And it’d be good to know sooner than later that a UX “improvement” is indeed not. I guess that’s also where A/B testing can come in as we tweak our sites more and more (assuming there is enough traffic).

      I’ve also committed a few black hat infractions, but having built a websites since 1997, we just called them innovations! They only became black hat when Google decided to wise up to user’s needs. Which actually makes websites a little easier in the long run… focus on your business, not trying to out game your competitor’s business.

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