Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO

Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO

The difference between black hat and white hat SEO tactics can be confusing. Some business owners may shy away from doing SEO at all, simply because they don’t know if what they are doing is “legal” in the eyes of a search engine. What do “black hat SEO” and “white hat SEO” even mean, and is there really a difference between the two?


The Internet is the Modern Wild West

The internet seems like a great, vast space, a Wild West of the present day; millions of users want a piece of the internet and most hope to make a name for themselves amongst the competition. The internet may seem like a lawless land, with no hope of violators of internet law receiving their just punishment, but that is not entirely true.

Enter in Sheriff Google

Google’s famous algorithm updates, such as the Panda and Hummingbird updates, act as the sheriffs of the internet. They monitor, flag, and remove the sites from their search engines that are not following the set rules of fair SEO.

Black hat SEO is the modern day equivalent of a robber baron. White hat SEO is the legal way of standing out from the internet masses and making a name for yourself in this wild territory.


What is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat tactics are tailored for search engine crawlers, not for actual human consumption. These tactics are the metaphorical equivalent of wax fruit. Wax fruit may look real from far away or in a photo, but it is definitely not for human consumption. If you placed a bowl of wax fruit in the middle of a delicious banquet, it would be discovered pretty quickly and discarded immediately.

So it is with black hat SEO. It will initially look good to a search engine, but eventually, a search engine would spot the “spamminess” and remove it from their search engine results pages.

Black Hat SEO Tactics

Black hat tactics try to rank high on a search engine with no regard for usability for an actual human. Specific examples of black hat SEO practices include keyword stuffing, meta tags stuffing, and link farms. These tactics tend to be very technology-based, as those practicing are messing behind the scenes to try and make their site searchable only to search engines and disregarding the site’s usefulness to a reader.

Another illegal tactic is plagiarism or taking an article from another source and changing it only slightly. It’s a guarantee that your site will be flagged if you use this duplicate content.

Other black hat strategies include:

  • Duplicate content
  • Invisible text
  • Cloaking or re-directing to a page you do not own
  • Links from irrelevant sites

Not only are black hat tactics frowned upon in the industry, they are illegal in the eyes of Google and other search engines. They dole out punishments (search engine results page “banishment”) when they find the sites that are practicing black hat SEO, and these “banishments” can be an irreversible. Employing black hat SEO is not worth the spike in traffic to your site (the traffic itself being red flag to the search engines).


What is White Hat SEO?

So how can you expect to boost your visibility and online presence without stooping to black hat SEO techniques? Easy. Optimize your site for humans, not for search engine crawlers. Useful content is the way that a search engine determines if your site is actually worthwhile. Switching your thinking from the nitty-gritty technical details to creating useful, rich content will naturally make your site more searchable, and in keeping with SEO regulations.

White Hat SEO Tactics

There are many white hat SEO tactics that you can employ to make your site more searchable legally, such as naming each of your pages with useful titles, tagging your images you use, making your content easy to scan and easy to read by using relevant titles, easy-to-read bulleted lists, and informational graphics.

Other white hat SEO Strategies include:

  • Linking to relevant sites
  • Referencing information
  • Standard and compliant site code
  • Unique and relevant page titles

Original, fresh content is ultimately the best form of white hat SEO. Good content is what your readers, customers, and potential customers actually want. So, why not give it to them?When readers are pleased by your content, then they will interact with you more on your site, which will increase your readership and your business naturally. Creating a blog and posting to it regularly will help you link to relevant sites and boost your ranking.


Seek an SEO Professional To Help

Seeking out a professional to help you with your SEO is usually the route that most companies take. Business owners will see greater success when they make a good online presence a priority. Reaching out to a professional company who specializes in SEO and employs white hat SEO tactics can be just the boost they need to get themselves on the map.

Mike Marsh
[email protected]

Mike has been in the online marketing industry since 2012. He has extensive experience with SEO, email marketing and linkbuilding campaigns for in-house and agency teams around the country. You can connect with him right here: Linkedin