• Matthew Metcalfe

The SEO Battle: White Hat vs. Black Hat

White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO: What’s the Difference & Does it Matter?

There are good guys and bad guys in almost every movie, story, or book. You know, the fight between good and evil?

In the story of SEO, white hat techniques are identified as the “good guys”, whereas black hat techniques are known as the “bad guys”.

To put it simply, white hat tactics adhere to Google’s rules - particularly in terms of producing original, high-quality content. Black hat tactics take a more aggressive approach and bend the rules in order to get quicker results.

Here’s the what, why and pros and cons of SEO to help you decide which hat you will wear.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black Hat SEO steps backstage into the dark and uses sketchy SEO strategies that are primarily search-engine centric and keyword driven. They almost completely ignore the human audience and focus on rule-breaking tactics to earn higher rankings on search engines.

People who practice black hat SEO techniques are looking to get a quick financial return and rank faster. But this also means that they’re willing to increase the risks of penalization on their website. Once search engines identify black hat tactics, your website will be banned and your rankings will decrease.

Top 3 Black Hat SEO Techniques

1. Keyword Stuffing

Keywords help boost your content to increase rankings. However, Google penalises websites that are fully loaded with keywords - related or unrelated. Adding keywords that are irrelevant to your content will confuse your readers and waste their time. You may gain rankings (for a limited time) but you’ll lose the trust of your human audience.

2. Hidden Text

Search engines will be able to view your content, but hidden text will be invisible to the reader’s eyes. Some ways to do this include:

  • Setting the font size to zero

  • Hiding a link in a small character like a hyphen or a number

  • Adding white text on a white background

Now, it may be hidden from a reader’s eyes but Google’s bots can spot your hidden text a mile away.

3. Duplicate Content

Another common black hat SEO tactic is to duplicate/copy content from another website. Google’s search engine algorithm is modified to index original and unique content only. It’s really plagiarism at its finest.

You can probably begin to see why Black Hat SEO tactics are the “bad guys”.

What is White Hat SEO?

The most successful brands implement white hat SEO techniques because it's a long-term strategy that proves to be a worthwhile investment. The white hat strategy focuses on producing high-quality, original content and organic link building in hopes to achieve higher rankings.

Top 3 White Hat SEO Techniques

1. Quality content

Nothing makes search engines more happy than when they index great quality content. One that’s original and unique, that will genuinely help readers. You’re bringing valuable content to the web that is share-worthy which is needed to drive more traffic. Although it will take a longer time, you’ll begin to see increased rankings.

2. Guest blogging

When you write a blog for a friend/colleague on their website, it’s called guest blogging. It’s a great white hat tactic to increase backlinks to your website and increase rankings. You’ll also gain traffic to your website and increase overall brand awareness.

3. Relevant Backlinks

Google loves it when quality links lead back to your site because it means your site is valued and contains high-quality content. When other sites link to you, you know you’re doing something right with your content.

The Pros & Cons of Black Hat SEO & White Hat SEO

Yes, the black hat strategy gets quicker results. And yes, the white hat strategies will take longer, but it’s worth it.

Remember: It’s better to have Google as an ally than an enemy in the world of SEO.

So….which hat will you wear?

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