When conducting SEO research for a client, I often examine incoming links to competitors' websites. Recently, a competitor rocketed to the top of the search rankings. I noticed links from over ten TypePad blogs to the competitor for several of their targeted search terms.
Several months ago, the New York Times featured a story that shed some light on the inner workings of Google in dealing with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices that contravene Google's accepted SEO guidelines. As I read the story about J. C. Penney's SEO and Google's reaction, I began to think about SEO practices not in technical terms, but in business terms.
Black hat SEO has a negative reputation, and rightly so: It's a shady set of deceptive practices that degrade the user experience and are adopted mostly to make a quick buck. To keep a business legitimate and afloat on the Web, avoid black hat SEO techniques and embrace white hat SEO techniques.