Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing & Websites

Black Hat Vs. White Hat SEO: Understanding the Differences

25 Mar
2015

SEO hats
If you have a website and have done research into SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, then you likely have come across the terms “black hat SEO” and “white hat SEO.” Depending on how deep your research has led you, you may have even encountered “grey hat SEO.” While the terminology may seem simple and almost a little silly, it actually refers to a very important aspect of the SEO industry, that of the specific methods and techniques used when attempting to improve the rankings of a website across various search engines.

White hat SEO practices are considered to be the best in the business. White hat methods are appropriate, ethical, and comply with search engine guidelines, even as these guidelines change over time. On the other hand, black hat SEO refers to tactics that are not approved by search engines and usually involve some level of dishonesty or deception.

Common white hat SEO practices include:

  • creating quality, well-written content
  • writing relevant meta tags, descriptions, and titles
  • a website redesign or restructuring to improve content
  • placing important keywords within headings
  • updating a site frequently
  • establishing authority through links placed on other sites

Common black hat SEO practices include:

  • keyword stuffing
  • link farming
  • placing keywords or links where they can’t be seen; for example: placing a keyword in a white font on a white background
  • spamming other blogs with comments and links back to your site
  • doorway pages, a.k.a cloaked pages, bridge pages, jump pages, portal pages, and gateway pages

So if white hat SEO is considered good, and black hat SEO is considered bad, then why would anyone even consider using black hat SEO tactics on their website? The answer is relatively simple – black hat SEO methods usually require less time, less investment, and can achieve their desired outcomes much faster. People who utilize black hat techniques will oftentimes see a huge spike in their rankings, and usually within a matter of days. Unfortunately, the fast and easy benefits of black hat SEO are quick to dissipate, and those who use them often find themselves facing stiff penalties and even lower search rankings than they initially started with as a result. In extreme cases, some search engines will even de-index or completely ban a site.

As you can see, there can be a fine line between what is considered white hat and what is considered black hat. For instance, placing keywords is white hat but placing too many keywords is black hat, or, link building is white hat but link farming is black hat. You’ll find that many practices that are considered white hat initially become black hat when they are used excessively, and that even opinions about which is which vary from one SEO professional to the next. This is where gray hat SEO comes in – when white hat techniques are used but tweaked to bend the rules a little bit, thus maximizing results while minimizing potential risks and penalties.

For SEO done effectively and ethically, contact the team of SEO experts at Damonaz Designs in Southwest Florida at (239) 244-8350. We have the skills, experience, and tools to make sure that your site not only reaches the top of the search engines, but that it stays there as well.

Christan Ford-Holevinski
author

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