Well, it's official. Matt Cutts, the head of Google's Web spam team, has declaratively stated that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not spam. Of course, those of us in the industry have known this for as long as we've been interested in SEO, but the overwhelming perception of SEO by the everyman is that it is directly proportional to spam. Watch the following 4-minute-long video of Matt Cutts addressing the question, "Does Google consider SEO to be spam?"
Between that video and Google's official SEO beginner's guide, I'd say the case for legitimate SEO has more than been made from the search juggernaut.
But just in case you need some extra coaxing, I recommend reading this post of mine from last year where I made a case for the legitimacy of SEO. In it, I note not only Google's stance on SEO, but Microsoft's as well, what with their own SEO team and SEO toolkit. The post is as applicable today as it was a year ago.
So, yes, while SEO has plenty of black hat practitioners who spam the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), it also has innumerable white hat practitioners who create added value for Web sites, search engines, and people. But in and of itself, SEO does not equal spam.
And now, I leave you with the following random screen shot of Mr. Cutts from the video above: