If you’re just starting with search engine optimization, you’re probably wondering what’s the difference between Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO. As the name implies, one of these methods is “good,” and the other is “bad.” But things are much more complex than that.
Keep in mind that these two don’t necessarily refer to specific techniques. Instead, they talk about a person’s overall approach to optimization. You might even be using a mixture of the two, referred to as Grey Hat SEO.
What is White Hat SEO?
When you tell a person you’re doing SEO, most people presume that you’re using the White Hat approach. This is a set of ethical practices where a website owner implements strategies and procedures according to Google’s guidelines.
There are several reasons why people prefer this method. First off, they don’t want to carry the stigma of an unethical brand. Experts are also worried about how future changes to search engine algorithms would affect their site.
Lastly, the problem with Black Hat SEO tactics is that you can quickly gain enemies. Business owners might figure out who is behind these attacks, and they can launch a counter-offensive against your site. To stay on the safe side and avoid attracting other people’s ire, it’s much better to go with White Hat SEO.
Basic principles of White Hat SEO
Here are the basic White Hat principles guiding experts during optimization:
1. Following search engine guidelines
Search engines are constantly changing their algorithms, introducing improvements meant to improve user experience. Although it’s sometimes hard to keep up with all the new stuff, it’s the safest way to build a brand. The last thing you want is to get hit with a Google penalty because you used unlawful practices.
2. Emphasis on content
The main priority of every search engine is to give people answers to their questions. When determining search engine rankings, they give an advantage to content that fulfills user intent. So, at the core of every White Hat SEO process, there’s a quality article that visitors find useful.
Although you still have to think about technical aspects of the site and link building, these come second to content.
3. Providing value
Given everything said in the previous entry, you can easily figure out that White Hat SEO techniques focus on humans. You’re constantly trying to entice visitors to share and link your pieces and stay on the page for as long as possible. These web posts should have a positive impact on their lives and should answer their questions.
4. Brand building mindset
Most people don’t realize that search engine optimization is a process of building a brand. Although we’re all trying to increase organic traffic and website sales, they come as a consequence of having strong brand awareness.
What are the most common White Hat SEO strategies?
As you can presume, there are major differences between White Hat and Black Hat SEO techniques. Although there’s some overlapping between the two, you can easily tell wrong from right. White Hat practices focus on creating useful content that can serve web users for years to come.
It’s based on real human interaction with pages and relationship building. Companies that implement these practices are usually held in high regard by their peers, and visitors often revisit their pages. Here are the White Hat tactics people use to optimize their websites:
· Creating useful, actionable content
In White Hat optimization, everything starts with relevant content. Your pieces should provide unique information that can’t be found anywhere else on the web. Alternatively, the information should be presented in a fun, entertaining way so that people can easily receive and understand the message.
· Creating long-term connections
Companies that do things by the book find it easier to build connections with other bloggers and brands. It’s only natural that you would create a strong bond with others working in your industry and that these people would occasionally promote your content.
· Building links the right way
When you build links, you avoid PBNs, link exchanges, and other schemes. Instead, all these links are a result of your hard work and a reflection of the content’s quality. White Hat SEO presumes link building via outreach, social media campaigns, HARO, broken link building, and guest posts (sometimes considered Gray Hat technique).
· Implementing best on-site practices
Nowadays, you can gain lots of SEO benefits by simply having a well-working site. Companies should focus on things such as website speed, mobile-friendliness, logical site architecture, and easy-to-browse content.
· Using proper titles, meta tags, and descriptions
Click-through rate is one of the more important metrics that Google measures. Whether we’re talking about articles shown within the search engine or videos on social media, CTR indicates that people are intrigued by what you have to offer. However, you shouldn’t use misleading titles and metadata to entice visitors.
· Using logical interlinking
You should also be careful when interlinking your pages. It’s a big no-no if you’re leading people to suspicious and potentially harmful web pages on your site. In fact, not only is it dangerous, but depending on how you’re using this strategy, it might even be illegal.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEO is the polar opposite of White Hat SEO. It’s a method that focuses on short-term gains, where a person tries to get as much traffic during a limited time span. People using this approach understand they’re doing something wrong, but they’re still willing to risk it to make temporary profits.
Black Hat techniques are especially common in industries that have high ROI. This might include gambling, sex, and suspicious substances. The general mentality is to make enormous profits over several months or a year. When Google shuts you down, you just restart the process with a new domain.
The problem with Black Hat SEO is that it can also affect external sites. Some “entrepreneurs” use it to destroy their competition, which would automatically increase their own placement within search engine results pages. These negative attacks can be devastating for new brands, completely ruining their business.
Basic principles of Black Hat SEO
Here are the basic Black Hat principles guiding experts during optimization:
1. Using tactics that go against guidelines
The first and most important characteristic of Black Hat SEO is that you’re using techniques that go against search engine rules. People using these methods are trying to create value by exploiting the system and trying things that other companies are reluctant to do.
2. Disregarding brand awareness
Due to the short-term nature of Black Hat SEO, website owners who use these methods can’t bother with brand awareness. In the end, Google will penalize their site into oblivion sooner than later, so there’s no point in trying to create a legitimate business. Everything you do is meant to trick engines, but also the visitors, into giving you their trust.
3. “Works” the algorithms
Although Google and other search engines never disclose information about their algorithms, savvy entrepreneurs still figure them out. While both approaches try to optimize around algorithms, Black Hat SEO uses the available information to create more manipulative strategies.
4. Potentially harmful for another website
Experts using White Hat principles are generally ethical people. They’re generally reluctant to harm their competitors and believe there should be an equal playing field. Black Hat experts don’t have such qualms. They’re prepared to use all tools at their disposal, often sabotaging competitors to achieve their goals.
5. Profitability above everything
To make Black Hat SEO worthwhile, you need to sell lucrative products and services. This means that your potential profits should significantly exceed your investments. Otherwise, you might as well go with the traditional White Hat approach.
What are the most common Black Hat SEO strategies?
Unlike White Hat SEO techniques that have mostly remained the same over time, Black Hat methods have changed a lot over time. People using this approach are constantly trying to find chinks in Google’s armor and create value by exploiting the system. Here are the most common strategies connected to this strategy:
· Using doorway pages
Doorway pages are only used to drive visitors to your site. They are generally overoptimized, relying on semantics and shady links to gain fast traction. However, once visitors land on such a page, they’re automatically redirected to a service or product page where they can make a purchase.
· AI tools for content creation
Nowadays, there are more and more AI tools that can help you create articles. Although these pages might sound nice, they’re usually of a lower quality compared to human-generated web posts. After creating one such article, SEO professionals can further stuff keywords to make the piece more relevant for Google.
· Scraping content
Aside from using AI tools, you can also copy-paste content from other sites. These are basically duplicate pages that shouldn’t even exist, but you somehow manage to rank them by using various illicit techniques such as keyword stuffing.
· Hidden text
You can additionally optimize your pages by using invisible text. It won’t be shown to the people who visit your site, but it will still be present in HTML. With invisible text, you can improve your rankings without visibly reducing the quality of the on-page content.
· Relying on link schemes
Over the years, people have used various link schemes to boost content on their sites. This includes strategies such as using private blogging networks, link exchanges, low-quality and irrelevant links, etc. People using this approach have no problem using link spam and similar techniques.
Cloaking is a strategy where the page content is presented differently to users and search engine spiders. The main point of this is to show pages that would otherwise be prohibited.
If you need help from real SEO experts who don’t use Black Hat techniques, contact MiroMind today!