Black Hat vs. White Hat SEOSEO (aka search engine optimization) can be a tricky game to play when it comes to ensuring your website ranks well on a search engine results page. Some will play dirty while others will play clean, but is there a safe in-between technique that will help rank your website as a winner?
As you read, keep in mind that search engine optimization only affects organic searches in a search engine, like Google or Yahoo, not paid or sponsored results.

1. White Hat SEO – Play It Clean

White hat SEO is an SEO technique that improves a website’s search performance by following the rules and guidelines set forth by the major search engine, Google.

This technique is all about improving your search performance by creating and offering quality content on your website that people want and will search for.

For example, posting educational blog articles full of unique content to your website that visitors can reference for help and advice is a white hat seo technique. However, you need to make sure the title of your blog post is in accordance with the actual content contained in the post for this to be a white hat technique. You don’t want to trick people into reading an article on your website by implying it’s going to be about one topic (like web design trends) when in the content you’re actually promoting something completely different (like a local bake sale).

The big idea here is to create content for the search, not for the search engine. If your visitors can find content on your site that they like, chances are they’ll return again because they view your site as a reliable source.

Other white hat on-page SEO tactics that will keep you on Google’s good side and increase your rankings in search engines include using keywords in your:

  • Page titles
    White Hat SEO - Clean Fun

    Practicing white hat SEO techniques means good, clean fun that will keep you (and Google) smiling.

  • Page URL
  • Page headers
  • Content
  • Meta description

Putting keywords in these places makes it easier for search engine spiders to crawl your website content and determine if your site contains information related to the search. When the keywords in your content match the words in the search, your website will rank higher on the search engine results page, ultimately driving more traffic to your site.

Why wouldn’t everybody use white hat techniques if it’s the SEO method Google likes best?

The quick answer to this question is that white hat SEO is a slow method and requires time before you see the results of your efforts. But, while this may be a slow technique, it is a safe, sure and ethical way to improve your website’s rankings in search engines.

2. Black Hat SEO – Play It Dirty

Black hat SEO is the opposite of white hat SEO; it doesn’t follow the rules and has the potential to get your site banned from search engines, which you most definitely do NOT want. There’s a good chance Google is the top search engine referring traffic to your website; by risking being banned, black hat SEO techniques could do devastating damage by reducing the amount of traffic to your site.

So how do you know if your SEO techniques are black hat? WordStream said it perfectly: “If no value is added to the user, but rankings are likely to increase, then your decisions are highly likely to be black hat.”

Black hat techniques include:

Black Hat SEO - Dirty Mess

Black hat SEO is sort of like playing in the mud; it may seem like a fun and intriguing idea at first, but it’ll have mom (or Google) placing you in time out.

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Hiding text and links
  • Doorway and cloaked pages
  • Comment spamming on other websites
  • Link schemes

Don’t put the integrity of your business in danger by engaging in black hat SEO techniques. Google will get suspicious if you start bringing in visitors at an abnormally quick rate and this will certainly pose a risk to your website.

3. Grey Hat SEO – Somewhere In-Between

Is there a happy medium between white hat and black hat SEO techniques? Is there a way for your site to safely and quickly rank higher in search engines without risking banishment by Google? This is a bit of a grey area. (Pun intended.)

Grey hat SEO techniques do not fully employ black hat or white hat tactics, but rather combine the two to give you the best of both worlds. They sort of maneuver around the rules and think outside the box to rank higher in search engines. Perhaps this is the transformation stage from white to black or black to white. It may even be argued that grey hat SEO uses black hat techniques to achieve white hat results.

The fuzzy thing about grey hat techniques is that they can’t be listed out as clearly as black and white hat techniques, hence the name. For example, the logistics of an agreement between two websites for one to share a link on the other site is questionable against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If website A charges website B to share a link on their website, both sides benefit: website A earns money and website B earns more referral traffic. But, this technique walks the line between being Google approved and not necessarily banned and is therefore a grey hat SEO technique.

Ultimately grey hat techniques are going to bring more visitors to your website than white hat techniques, but not in the same way as black hat techniques that signal a red flag and makes Google suspicious of your activities.

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