White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO: What's The Difference?

white hat

Like all things in life, there are two opposing forces, the good and the bad. The same concept applies in SEO. White hat SEO uses methods that follow the guidelines of search engines and adhere to their rules.

On the other hand, Black hat SEO uses strategies that are frowned upon by search engines due to its forceful and spam-like nature. While both SEO approaches are very different, they both still share the common goal of generating traffic to a website.

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO takes the factor of integrity into consideration when attempting to dominate SERPs (search engine results page). This technique uses quality keywords and updates the website content regularly to cater to its visitors and fluctuating search engine algorithms. White hat SEO makes use of relevant links to enhance the visitor experience along with various social media sites. This SEO method is for people with long term goals for their website.

One effective white hat SEO technique is internal linking. This is simply linking one page of your website to another page. Linking is a two way process, therefore white hat SEO also makes use of backlinks.

Backlinks are links from a different domain that reverts back to your website. Using backlinks from high-ranking websites (web 2.0 properties) may increase the credibility of the main website. Reciprocal linking from websites within the same category or group is a healthy white hat SEO practice. 

High quality content is another primary focus of white hat SEO. Unique content that’s resourceful and caters to the needs of the visitor is a standard guideline for white hat SEO. Creating good content is time consuming but a great investment for a website’s reputation.

Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO is an aggressive SEO approach with the intention to solely dominate SERPs and generate traffic without taking the audience into account. Black hat SEO tactics circle around the limitations of search engines, one being that spiders index websites based purely on text. 

There are many search engine algorithms that detect such lucrative methods; therefore making black hat SEO techniques short lived and will ultimately result in the website being banned. With that in mind, this method is highly effective only for companies looking for a quick online financial return.

Black hat SEO also makes use of links. However, this form of link building does not take relevancy into consideration. The idea is randomly spamming links of the website wherever possible. This technique is known as link farming. One of the most common black hat SEO practice is keyword stuffing. This is used to trick spiders into increasing the relevancy of a website. The keywords are often placed at the bottom of the site in very small font as not to disrupt the flow of the other content. A more creative way of keyword stuffing is to hide the text by matching the font color with the background. This is known as hidden text. 

Gray Hat SEO 

Gray hat SEO is all about maintaining a balance between various white hat and black hat SEO methods. For example, Gray hat SEO may have a high keyword density ratio than normal but not to the point of spam.

Link building for gray hat SEO does not stress relevance as heavily as white hat SEO, but does not place links in irrelevant websites. The margin of error for gray hat SEO practice is very thin and requires an extensive knowledge in both SEO methods for it to be applied without offending the search engine guidelines and the visitor.

Automated Tools and Shortcuts

The use of automated tools and shortcuts for SEO has been a controversial debate with both sides making strong points. The highly complex algorithms that search engines use were made by armies of scholars using all types of software. Yet, a typical SEO content campaign is run by an English major using a spreadsheet. That seems unfair and nearly impossible to grasp. On the other hand, entirely automating SEO may take away the human factor of the web experience leaving it dull and repetitive.

While it is not a good idea to entirely rely on automated SEO tools and shortcuts, there are a number of software available with the intention to save time and money. SEO tools that make the task more effective in productivity, analysis or management does not spam or remove the human factor from the content. These simply generate data based on statistics and still require decisive human action to implement what to do with the information.