On their official Google Search blog, Google differentiates between “white hat” search engine optimization and “black hat webspam,” emphasizing that the changes are intended to affect the latter only. However, I can’t help but think that search engine optimization is more of a spectrum than just black and white. Google points out that the changes will affect 3.1% of English queries, which will still be a significant number of searches. The reality is that many websites (including yours truly) are commercial entities, and Google searches are a significant means of obtaining traffic, which in the world of the Internet, is equated to income. Search engine optimization is therefore an essential way to maximize this income stream. We’re all for improving a service, but Google’s opacity when it comes to their search engine algorithm is frustrating for those of us that are trying to compete on the web.
As Google emphasizes, our primary objective is to create a high quality site, but we also want to do our best to bring that high quality site to as many people as possible, and the means to that end is search engine optimization. Hopefully we won’t be penalized in that pursuit by these changes. We certainly aim to where a white hat when optimizing our website for search engines.
The changes will go live for all languages at the same time sometime this week (if they haven’t gone live already).