Companies deal with ethical decisions consistently in the cyber world. Photo Gilbert Cisneros/UVU Review

Everyone is affected one way or another by popular search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo. The three top jobs for search engines are to build trust among their users, provide the best results and to sell advertising. But how do different colored hats play into these search engines?


UVU graduate Ash Buckles educated students on Search Engine Optimism, better known as SEO on March 8 in the Lakeview Room of the UVU Library.


Buckles defined the different levels of SEO Ethics.


White hat SEO is when a company does everything correctly and legally to get its product advertised.


“You’ve read the chapter, completed the homework, turned in the assignments,” Buckles said.


Grey Hat SEO is the equivalent of just reading the CliffsNotes. It’s akin to not putting in the best effort and cutting a couple of corners, but still getting the job done. Black hat SEO is what happens when a company puts out fake business listings. They stuff keywords everywhere to draw them high up in a search engine list, place hidden content, cloak for search engines, plagiarize, use links from link farms and any form of general deception a company can do to advertise on a greater scale.


Elaine Englehardt, a UVU ethics professor for 35 years and namesake for the Englehardt Ethics Award, served as the host and was inspired to share her thoughts on ethics.


“Privacy, responsibility, justice, fairness and professionalism are essential. Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have the right to do and the right thing to do,” Englehardt said.


The ethics of black hat versus white hat SEO has been an issue for quite some time now. This was brought upon by the unethical actions some companies have taken to make sure their name and website are on the top of the list, or at least on the first page of search engines.


Certain companies have been most recently penalized for doing this. JC Penny was knocked out of top rankings for about 90 days along with Overstock, which was also dropped for 60 days’ time and BMW, which was disciplined for 30 days. Forbes was also penalized for selling links.


The use of proxy servers as well as Online Reputation Managements are also being blamed for black hat activity. There is a need for good reviews, because a lot of clients are always willing to share negative experiences, but rarely willing to praise a job well done. The methods of getting positive reviews to combat the negative ones have been questioned.


To save yourself a ton of trouble in cyber space, stick with the winning white hat SEO tactics.


Companies need to understand their keyword researching, constantly publishing new content through business blogs as an opportunity to build links to other journals, because any other traditional blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogspot are built to link to search engines and are perfectly legal.


Implementing architectural updates on websites is encouraged, as well as creating official social media profiles to inspire interpersonal communication with fans, clients and other companies. Infographics, viral videos, badges and widgets are also helpful and legitimate. Press releases are still one of the most effective and proper ways of getting the word out.


By Brielle Valyntín Alexander
Staff Writer