If you are a business owner and want to get your website recognized by your potential customers, you need to know how to rank high on the SERP (search engine results page).
You also need to have a certain level of SEO skills to get that ranking on the first page of Google, and even then, it’s an ongoing game to keep yourself there.
Many people feel desperation by this point and start to use sneaky SEO tactics to rank higher than their competition.
This is where the importance of knowing the difference between white hat vs black hat SEO comes in. One tactic helps you climb the SERP, and the other will get you penalized by Google, ruin your traffic, and your business.
So what is the difference between the two? And what are the legal tactics to use, to avoid being penalized?
We have all those answers! Keep on reading to learn the difference between white hat vs black hat SEO and how to do it correctly.
What is White Hat SEO?
No, we’re not referring to an actual white hat you wear on you head, but we have something even better.
White hat SEO is the tactics and techniques that are ethical, integral, and follow along with Google’s terms and conditions. In other words, these are the legal SEO strategies that are by the book and will not get you penalized.
Considering Google has over 3.5 billion searches per day, there is a lot of traffic just waiting to discover your website. This extra traffic gives you more opportunities to be found by potential clients and customers, just waiting to purchase your products and/or services.
White hat means that you are following the guidelines and performing specific techniques to boost your rankings that will NOT get you penalized.
So, the last thing you want is to be banned from the world’s most used search engine. To make it even worse, there are no chances that they will re-list you. You could be banned for longer than a year, or even up to a lifetime.
White Hat Benefits
Besides skipping the chances to be penalized, the white hat SEO strategy has many other benefits.
First, you are not trying to manipulate the algorithm, you are achieving organic search results that are reflected in your hard work. White hat SEO is more satisfying than its counterpart “black hat” because when your website grows, your business grows with it.
Google changes its algorithm hundreds of times per year, and each time they change it, they are eliminating chances for black hat marketers to get results. By following the white hat guidelines, you are ensuring that you are “bullet-proofing” your website from any future issues or major changes.
White Hat SEO Strategies
White hat techniques begin with a full analysis of a website and its competitors, to find areas where your website could improve its signals that it is sending to the search engines.
The next step would be to discover where your competitors are ranking within a certain set of keywords and begin writing authoritative content to rank well for those keywords as well.
Quality Content Optimization
The more quality content that your website has, the more that Google will see it as a valuable and authoritative website. This means that other websites will begin to link to your website as a source for information, which sends out even more signals to the search engines that you are to be taken seriously.
This means that you may have to spend more time doing quality research to craft an excellent article. This will all pay off in the end when people are naturally drawn to share your well-written content.
Link building is a strategy that helps you to gain relationships with other websites in an organic way. While you create your content, link to other authoritative websites to credit their source, then send an email to that website to thank them and ask them for the chance to link to your website as well.
Every single page on your website should be optimized with the appropriate keywords, titles, meta descriptions, internal and external linking. The content should be worded to feel authentic with a few of the keywords organically added.
The titles and meta descriptions should appear natural, yet compelling with the appropriate use of keywords.
By writing articles for a well-known, niche-related, and reputable website, you are then given a chance to naturally have a backlink to your website. This helps the search engines to start seeing your website as reputable and thus, improving your SERP results.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat refers to the use of unethical and aggressive SEO strategies. This is used as a way to “cheat” the system and manipulate the search results. Black hat techniques are short term alterations to the website as a way to sneakily improve the SERP results, by usually taking advantage of blind spots, limitations, and gaps within the system.
In other words, black hat marketing is hacking the system by targeting the search bots instead of people to show up on a results page where the website does not organically belong in.
Black hat marketing is also quite exhausting, as you would have to continue changing your illegal strategies to keep up with the hundreds of algorithm changes every year, instead of just posting quality content and watching your website grow organically with white hat tactics.
Some of the largest Google algorithm techniques that banned a lot of websites are:
- Penguin Update – Penalized websites that used illegal linking techniques.
- Florida Update– Penalized websites that used keyword stuffing techniques.
- Panda Update – Penalized websites that used content farms.
Black Hat Benefits (said nobody ever…)
Essentially, there are no black hat benefits. Because no strategy is worth the risk of being penalized by Google and excluded from the SERP.
For example, let’s say you need a boost of traffic in a short amount of time, and you ask an SEO specialist to help you. An honest, SEO specialist that just practices white SEO tactics will tell you that it is just not possible (hey, that’s us!) Where a black hat SEO manipulator will tell you that it can be done no problem.
That black hat SEO marketer is just trying to get your money and could destroy your website’s future. As the saying goes;
“The best place to hide a dead body is in the second page of the Google search results” – we’re still not sure who came up with this quote
Black Hat Strategies
Black hat strategies change over time because they have to keep up with the constant algorithm changes. However, there are a few main strategies that seem to keep going.
Since websites rank by using certain keywords, black hat marketers’ stuff those keywords all over the website. This creates unnatural and awkward content.
Some keyword stuffing techniques are used by changing the colour of the text and stuffing it behind the background of the website. This will not be seen by the user, it will only be seen by the search engine bots.
With a typical broken website, it will be linked to another website of relative content. However, with a misleading redirect, it will send the user to a page that is completely unrelated to the original website. This is a sneaky technique that will also affect your bounce ratings.
There are numerous link scheme techniques used in black hat marketing, the most common ones are:
- Purchasing links on Public Blog Network (PBN) to improve search results and rankings.
- Offering goods and services for free in exchange for a link and good review.
- Using automated programs to build links.
Blog spamming is where the black hat marketer will automatically post links of the blog to multiple discussion websites and other common message threads in hopes to get people to click on the link.
Now remember kids when engaging with an SEO agency, a little research goes a long way and you want to make sure you stay from ‘cowboys’ like the below.
The Difference Between White Hat vs Black Hat SEO
Both white hat and black hat SEO technique have the same objective, which is to climb the SERP rankings and show up on the first page of Google.
The main difference between white vs Black Hat SEO is that while black hat can get quicker rankings, it is very risky and unethical.
Black hat SEO targets the search engine bots, and mostly focuses on gaining better rankings, while white hat SEO targets a human audience and focuses on becoming an authentic and reputable website in a niche/industry.
The Verdict: It May Be Time to Hire a White Hat SEO Specialist
If you have been trying to improve your rankings and have no idea where to begin, perhaps it is time to hire a white hat SEO specialist who can help you get there.
It is essential to know that the SEO company you will hire does NOT perform any black hat SEO tactics (like the one we showed above) unless you want to bring down your website with them, but instead, we choose not to participate in that tragedy.
StudioHawk focuses solely on white hat SEO techniques, and thoroughly understands the difference between white hat vs black hat SEO. Our specialists are fully experienced to get you the results that you deserve, without all the risks.
Feel free to reach out for with any questions or inquiries.