Bourbon. Big Daddy. Panda. Penguin.

What do these words have in common?

To the average small business owners, they probably look like nothing more than potential answers to a game of charades. But Web developers and SEO experts will recognize them as names Google has given to its algorithm updates over the years – updates those in the business of digital marketing follow obsessively in order to make sure their content reaches the top of search engine results.

So how does the average small business owner stay up to date on your Caffeines, Vinces and Floridas? By visiting a site like Common SEO Questions, where Eugene Aronsky, a Senior SEO specialist with NetLZ Consulting, offers news and information on internet marketing, SEO, Web design and Web 2.0 optimization.

Eugene recently checked in with us to answer a few questions about SEO – here’s what he had to say.

Hi, Eugene! Tell us about Common SEO Questions… when was the site started? Who should be using it?

The Common SEO Questions blog was started about a year ago. The goal of the blog is to answer questions related to SEO and tech. This blog is intended for anyone who is interested in digital marketing.

What is the difference between a white hat and a black hat SEO tool? Can you offer some examples of each?

“White hat” refers to a kind of digital marketing that is seen as “legal” by Google and other search engines; “black hat” refers to tactics that are seen as manipulative and illegal.

The definitions have changed as the SEO industry has matured, and things that were once white hat are now black hat and can get your site penalized or even delisted from Google…An example of white hat SEO is creating quality titles on your site and making sure that your site has quality content. An example of black hat SEO is engaging in keyword stuffing on your site, using duplicate content (either copying directly from another site or having the same content on each page) and having hidden text on your site that is only visible to search engines.

What are some outdated content marketing methods you see brands still using today? How can it be detrimental to be using these methods?

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen recently is the overuse of tactics like guest posting. Many blogs are comprised of a high percentage of guest posts; each guest post has an author tagline…Google is smart, and they can tell that this is a guest post and is essentially “sponsored content,” and they are likely to discount the value of such content, as well as of the blog as a whole.

What are the most common ways or reasons for which a brand can be penalized by search engines?

Today, one of the more common mistakes made by websites is to pay for backlinks, and get low-quality backlinks (such as directories or link farms). Such a backlink strategy, while it may have short-term results, is likely to get you penalized.

From a search engine’s perspective, what types of content are the most valuable?

Content that is most valuable is content that contributes to the scope of knowledge, not just regurgitating information.

What about tried-and-true methods that people overlook because they’re not the “next big thing”? Which ones offer a lot of bang for your buck?

The most common overlooked thing when it comes to SEO is “bad titles.” People forget that a search engine is not human and that a good title is the primary way through which a search engine determines where to rank a page. Titles that are cute or contain puns are great for humans, but they will never get you found in search engines.

We know that algorithms for search engines are constantly changing, so what are some basic SEO practices we should all be aware of that seem to work despite all the constant changes?

On-page SEO, while it is changing every couple of years, is not going anywhere. Before you even think of off-page marketing, worry about the on-page stuff.

How does social media affect SEO strategy? Are there any sites/platforms brands should consider investing more time in than others?

Again, this depends on your resources and your goals. There are some platforms that are good for reputation building, others that are great for fashion…

What do you think are the biggest headlines in SEO today that seem to be getting a lot of buzz?


See more from Eugene at Common SEO Questions.