As executive editor of Search Engine Land, Chris Sherman is extremely knowledgeable about search engine optimization (SEO). When the author asked Sherman about the basics of SEO, he responded with a brief history lesson, explaining how SEO has become more sophisticated over the years. Black hat optimizers are a minority, Sherman insists, but a visible minority that is dedicated to exploiting any vulnerabilities they find in Google relevance rankings. Most search engine optimizers are ethical, responsible, "white hat" practitioners. Reacting to black hat techniques, Google added, and continues to add, sophisticated algorithms and rules to keep its rankings as objectively relevant as possible. Sherman believes that the machine algorithms are actually improving. He also thinks that the Google Book project is teaching Google to read. It's getting smarter, he says. The methodologies used by search engines are constantly in flux, meaning that an SEO technique that worked last year may be completely ineffective this year. To be successful in SEO, you must know the rules set out by the search engines.
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