Vanessa Fox blogged about her experience at SES San Jose last week. She attended the highly talked about White Hat, Black Hat session and explained her findings from the perspective of an individual who worked at a search engine. When it comes to white hat, she says that there are guidelines to follow and if they are violated, you may suffer penalties. When dabbling in shades of gray, she talks about the specific guidelines and gives you the opportunity to consider whether they make sense in this technological environment, whether the techniques work, and whether the techniques are commonplace. She concludes with an important point:
When people who aren’t experienced in the intricacies of SEO look for information and they see statements like “these are white hat reasons to cloak” and “all paid links aren’t bad”, they can be led astray and think that those things adhere to search engine guidelines.
Forum members consider her post "compulsory reading." One summarizes his own thoughts behind Vanessa's blog post: "To cut a long story short, if a website is optimized for humans it is sure to get high rankings."
On the other hand, should hat colors be defined by a specific set of guidelines? Halfdeck says no:
Its an interesting take, but I don't define hat colors based on Google guidelines. There are cases where a site owner doesn't violate any of Google's guidelines but still manages to publish 100,000 spammy pages for monetary gain.
This is a good point as well.
Forum discussion continues at Sphinn.