There are so many different opinions out there about what is the most effective way to approach search engine optimization. Even though so many tactics work, the idea of which one is “best” is subjective. But there is one thing you have to consider: white hat vs black hat SEO. In this article, we will get into what the differences are between white hat vs black hat SEO, the strategies that go into each type of SEO, and a few examples of each. If you want to know more about the different approaches to search engine optimization, keep on reading!
Table of Contents
What is White Hat SEO?
White Hat SEO refers to the correct way to optimize a website. A white hat SEO strategy usually follows three specific criteria:
1 – It Follows Search Engine Guidelines
White hat SEO techniques follow Google’s webmaster guidelines. The webmaster guidelines are rules that Google lays out to properly optimize a website. The main idea of Google’s guidelines is that to have an ethical SEO strategy, you cannot be manipulative. If you are not attempting to manipulate rankings or deceive Google’s algorithm, you are probably following their guidelines and using white hat SEO techniques.
2 – It Focuses On a Human Audience
White hat SEO makes changes that are beneficial to a website’s visitors. Google’s top priority is to provide its users with the best possible results. A lot of the most beneficial SEO strategies take steps to improve the experience of its audience. Publishing high-quality content and improving page load times improve the value that users get from a site. It also provides ease with which they can navigate your site, making them Google-approved strategies.
3 – It Has a Long-term Approach
The strategies that follow Google’s guidelines and create a positive user experience take more time and tend to be more work-intensive than black hat methods. This means that it takes time to see the results you want. However, white hat SEO has a much more lasting impact. When you use strategies that are designed to improve your site experience, you can achieve steady rankings for your target keywords. White hat SEO is the best long-term approach because you can invest in content that can get results for years to come and you will use tactics that don’t put you at risk for consequences from Google.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is the exact opposite of white hat SEO. Check to see the following criteria to see what would be classified as black hat SEO.
1 – It Violates Search Engine Guidelines
A lot of black hat tactics violate Google’s guidelines, and in many cases, they are directly referenced in these guidelines as practices you should not use.
2 – It Uses Manipulative Tactics
White hat SEO services involve looking for ways to improve the user experience, while black hat SEO relies on manipulating Google’s algorithm to improve rankings. If a tactic is designed to make Google think that a website has more value than it does, it is deceptive and is considered black hat SEO.
3 – It Focuses on “Quick Wins”
A lot of the black hat strategies exploit loopholes in Google’s algorithm that can lead to improvements in rankings without a lot of work. While some of these manipulative tactics could work, they are almost always short-lived. This is because Google is always improving its algorithm to provide the best results to searchers and to prevent site owners who do not provide a great site experience from ranking well. Sites that use black hat strategies are at risk of losing their rankings every time there is a new algorithm update- which makes this a much more short-term approach than white hat SEO services.
What is the Difference Between White Hat vs Black Hat SEO?
To put it simply, white hat SEO follows Google’s guidelines and improves user experience, while black hat SEO violates these guidelines and is done with complete disregard for human users.
Guidelines of White Hat SEO:
- Uses optimization tactics and strategies that focus on the human audience instead of the search engine and follows search engine rules and policies
- Improves your search performance on search engine result pages (SERPs)
- Maintains integrity of the website
- Contains proper research, titles, meta tags according to the webpage, industry, and relevance.
- It gets backlinks because of quality content and consists of natural links
Guidelines of Black Hat SEO:
- Uses aggressive SEO tactics and strategies that only focus on search engines and not on human audiences
- Used by those who are looking for a quick financial return on their website.
- Stuffs keywords into the on-page contents to fool the search engine spiders and improve website rankings
- Has irrelevant backlinks and exchanges links for a higher ranking
- Exchanges links for the ranking.
Examples of White Hat vs Black Hat SEO
There are a bunch of examples of both white hat SEO and black hat SEO tactics that you may not be aware of, but are very evident in certain websites. Here they are below:
White Hat SEO Techniques
1 – Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is the process of writing a blog post on someone else’s blog. Blogging as a guest is a good way to increase search engine rankings because you can earn backlinks or links that connect back to your site from the blog that you appear on. Google likes to see links leading back to your site because it is a sign of confidence in your site and its content. If sites are linking to you, this means that you are providing valuable, interesting, and quality content. However, there are “good links” and “bad links.” Make sure all of your off-site links are relevant and have high-quality content too.
2 – Producing Quality Content
The more content-rich your website is, the better your odds are of ranking high. It is crucial to produce high-quality content that meets your audience’s needs and helps them to solve their problems. Using an SEO keyword research tool such as Serpstat can help you identify the most relevant keywords for which your content should be optimized. Focus your content around the keywords that help address some of the common issues and questions your audience may have.
3 – Internal Links
Internal links, or linking to content within your site, indicate to search engines that your site has value. Make sure you do not “overstuff” internal links. Search engines may mark this as spam, which makes it difficult to rank. You should aim for two to three links to the core page or other pages of your site on one page.
Black Hat SEO Techniques
1 – Keyword Stuffing
Various sources deem keyword stuffing as an unethical search engine optimization technique. According to HubSpot, keyword stuffing refers to the practice of filling your content with irrelevant keywords in an attempt to manipulate where the page ranks on a search engine results page. An example of this is repeating the same keywords in a way that sounds unnatural. This can lead to a poor experience for users and it may cause your page to rank for irrelevant queries.
2 – Invisible Text
Black Hat SEOs often employ invisible text techniques where they hide text or links within their content to improve their rankings. This is done by adding white text on a white background or using a very small font size. No matter how it is performed, the invisible text is identified as search spam by each of the major search engines.
3 – Cloaking
Cloaking is a technique that involves presenting visitors and search engines with completely different content. People use this technique in hopes to make their content rank for a variety of terms that are irrelevant to their content. To be successful in SEO, it is important to do whatever you can to avoid search engine penalties. SEO can be a lengthy process but staying with white hat SEO techniques is the best way to rank.
What is Grey Hat SEO?
Believe it or not, there is something called “grey hat” SEO. This is less common, but the term means strategies that fall somewhere in between white hat and black hat SEO. They could be considered manipulative, but Google hasn’t named them as practices to avoid. While they might be less risky than the tactics that Google has defined as bad, they still hold potential for consequences. Some grey hat SEO strategies include doorway pages, building microsites, and submitting to link directories. You will come across some debate about whether these are safe to use or simply not worth the risk.
Stick to White Hat SEO
The best way to make sure that you never have a website mishap is to stick to white hat tactics. White hat SEO techniques do take a lot of time, effort, and even money to get significant results. As a result, you might be tempted to look for black hat shortcuts to speed up the process. But when it comes down to it, the risks simply aren’t worth the potential rewards.
Invest in a white hat strategy, and you will be a lot more successful in the long-term, without having to worry about algorithm updates or potential penalties. If you need more help on figuring out the difference between white hat vs black hat SEO or for more strategies on making sure you find the right white hat SEO services for you, reach out to the experts at SEO Design Chicago today!
- Which SEO strategy has the best long-term approach?
- Why does black hat SEO have manipulative tactics?
- What is keyword stuffing?
- What is cloaking?
- Is there such a thing as grey hat SEO?