In the digital marketing realm, search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique that helps increase brand visibility and website traffic. But, there are generally two kinds of SEO: black hat SEO and white hat SEO. Which one should you use?
What Is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is the practice of pushing websites into higher rankings on search engine results pages by violating the guidelines of the search engines. While it does accomplish the intended result, it gets there through the use of manipulative tactics that breach the search engine’s terms of service. Another term for black hat SEO is unethical SEO.
Adopting black hat SEO techniques comes with many risks. When a search engine’s algorithm recognizes black hat practices, it can cause your website’s ranking to plummet. Worse yet, Google can take manual actions to get your website banned. Reviewers from the search engine giant can give out penalties to websites and remove them from the results page altogether.
White Hat vs Black Hat SEO: Understanding the Difference
Whereas black hat SEO uses prohibited techniques, white hat SEO is the opposite. White hat SEO is the practice of using ethical and correct methods to optimize a website and improve its ranking.
Here are the main differences between these two SEO strategies.
Adherence to Guidelines and Policies
White hat SEO completely follows the policies of the search engine, whereas black hat SEO breaks them. Google, for instance, has its own set of Webmaster Guidelines that search engines are expected to comply with. These guidelines dictate the correct way to optimize a website.
With a white hat approach, a website increases its ranking while following all of the guidelines laid out by the search engine. However, a black hat approach uses manipulative tactics to get to the top.
Black hat SEO solely focuses on the search engine, cheating and manipulating it to get results. It sets out to intentionally deceive the search engine’s algorithm in an attempt to rank higher. In other words, black hat tactics make search engines think that a website provides quality content without actually doing so.
On the other hand, white hat SEO focuses on the audience, offering high-quality content and experiences to achieve results. It emphasizes the human factor and creates content that its human audience would deem valuable. After all, Google’s chief objective is to offer its users the best possible results.
White hat strategies take a lot of time and effort. It is not easy to provide a positive user experience while keeping in line with the guidelines of a search engine. But, it is all well worth it, in the end, to know that you have achieved a higher ranking thanks to the work you put in.
In contrast, black hat tactics tend to focus on quick results. Those who use these strategies don’t want to put in the time and work. Thus, they turn to manipulative tactics such as exploiting the loopholes found in the algorithm of a search engine.
Some may want to try out black hat strategies because it gives you fast results. However, these results don’t usually last a long time. Search engines like Google constantly improve their algorithms and look for loopholes in the system. They make sure to address these loopholes so that no one can exploit them. Because of this, black hat results are often fleeting and momentary.
In comparison, white hat SEO offers more long-term results. Because you focus on the human experience, you can enjoy higher rankings in a more stable manner.
Black Hat SEO Examples
What are some examples of black hat tactics at work?
- Publishing duplicate or copied content
- Automatically generated content
- Scraped content
- Stuffed keywords
- Invisible text
- Re-directing users to another website
- Backlinks to other websites that don’t offer relevant content
- Abusing rich snippets markup
- Doorway pages
- Comment spamming
- Participating in link schemes
- Using loading pages with irrelevant keywords
- Sending automated queries to the search engine
- Developing pages with malicious practices such as installing viruses, phishing, etc.
Keep in mind that using black hat tactics can get a website banned. As such, any good website should aim to use white hat strategies instead of black hat strategies.
White Hat SEO Examples
What are some examples of white hat SEO?
- Publishing high-quality content that offers value to users
- Well-written content with good grammar and spelling
- Labeling images well
- Improving page loading times
- Contains proper titles, meta tags, etc.
- Relevant backlinks (white hat link building)
- Standards-compliant HTML
- Making your website mobile-friendly
- Enhancing overall user experience
What Is Gray Hat SEO?
There are some strategies that are a cross between black hat and white hat SEO. This is called gray hat SEO. These tactics fall into a gray area as they have not been outright prohibited by search engines but they may be considered manipulative.
It is best not to use gray hat strategies as they can also get your website banned. Some examples of these tactics include building microsites, commenting on blog posts to get backlinks, and submitting to link directories.
Always Use White Hat SEO to Improve Your Website
Black hat SEO is an unapproved practice that only manages to achieve short-term results and comes with the risk of getting banned. Clearly, the lesson here is to always opt for white hat tactics to climb the SERP rankings, increase visibility, and improve website traffic. Not only is white hat SEO recommended by search engines, but it also supports long-lasting results. Granted, it takes more time and work, but it is definitely worth all the trouble.
Are you having trouble getting your website off the ground? Tanner Grey offers web design and digital marketing services, including white hat SEO. Call us today at 844.500.1339 or contact us online to get an estimate.
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