Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO – What’s the Difference?

by Alex Denisiuk / Jan 4, 2022 / in News and Views, Organic SEO

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The field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is wide and there are a lot of misconceptions about legitimate SEO techniques. The SEO industry is flooded with different opinions about the best SEO techniques that can boost website traffic.

It is because of these diverse opinions that there’s plenty of grey area and confusion about the most effective ways to achieve site optimization. And this is where white hat SEO and black hat SEO come in. Before we begin understanding these two terms in detail, let’s first quickly revise what SEO is.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization is a branch of digital marketing that involves several techniques to improve the volume and quality of traffic to a website. The ultimate goal of achieving high rankings on the search engine results pages (SERP) is to gain more visitors organically.

This internet marketing strategy aims at optimizing the website to enhance the quality and quantity of search engine traffic. If you search a query in a search engine such as “dentist in Toronto”, you will get two types of search results in the SERP: organic results (free) and inorganic results (paid). SEO targets organic search results that are not sponsored or paid. The organic results are considered more reliable and attract more visitors. All the methods used in SEO are mainly classified into two types: On-Page and Off-Page SEO.

The modifications that occur within the website are known as On-Page SEO factors while off-page tactics involve factors that occur outside of the webpage.

Both on-page and off-page SEO include several tactics and some of these are considered white hat SEO and some as black hat SEO. Over the years, numerous SEO tactics have emerged and it has become overwhelming to determine what should be prioritized. To make things clear, SEO experts have divided common methods into two categories: Black hat and White hat. Although both white hat and black hat aim to boost website traffic, one focuses on quality while other on the quantity. Also, the difference between these two can be understood as the hero and villain of the film. To know more about these SEO methods, let’s find out more about white hat and black hat SEO in detail.

White Hat SEO

In simple words, white hat SEO follows the search engine guidelines. The methods that are approved by search engine giants like Google comes in this category. Google keeps updating its algorithm and has set some rules for ethically optimizing a site. The goal is to avoid manipulative tactics to rank higher. So, if you’re following Google’s guidelines, then you’re using white hat SEO. Avoiding Google’s guidelines also carries a risk of facing Google’s penalty which means that your site will either disappear from SERPs or ranking can drop dramatically.

Unlike black hat tricks, white hat methods don’t give immediate results but provide long-term benefits. For instance, publishing unique and relevant content, improving page load speed, including high-quality keywords, and more- all these results in increasing site traffic, as well as building a credible brand image.

White hat practices focus on improving the quality of a website. Unlike black hat that targets search engine bots, White hat SEO focuses on human audience, as well as search engine algorithm. The reliable SEO experts formulate a strategy that improves the site’s ranking and enhances the website authority while staying within the search engines’ terms of service. The most common white-hat techniques include:

  • Publishing keyword-rick quality content
  • Optimize Metadata
  • Authoritative inbound links
  • Responsive website navigation
  • Fast page loading speed
  • Mobile-Friendliness

Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO is quite opposite of white hat SEO because it violates the guidelines of search engines. These are the practices that Google has described as deceptive and manipulative because it tricks Google’s algorithm to improve rankings. Black hate SEO aims to quick wins by focusing on manipulating the Google bot.

Black hat SEO includes techniques that may help in achieving quick higher search rankings. However, breaking search engine rules ultimately results in dropped ranking and even disappearing from SERPs. These tactics only focus on attracting the search engine and fail to enhance user experience. The tricks such as keyword stuffing, link farming, and content spamming could ban your site from a search engine and you may face a de-indexed penalty.

These are unethical practices that give short-term gains by taking advantage of blind spots in search engine algorithms. But with the release of Google’s Penguin algorithm, all the black hat tactics are rendered ineffective. The most common Black Hat SEO that could blacklist your website includes:

  • Keyword Stuffing
  • Publishing Duplicate Content
  • Link Farming
  • Meta Keyword Stuffing
  • Cloaking Your Content
  • And More!

Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO

Both black hat and white hat techniques aim at improving the website’s ranking. However, black hat targets search engine and don’t focus on enhancing users’ experience.  But the latest Google algorithms have made the user experience a vital ranking factor. Since black hat tricks don’t improve user experience (UX), the Panda algorithm identifies these tricks and lowers down the web pages in SERPs that have duplicate content, excessive keywords, and too many ads.

So, hiding keywords by changing text’s color to make it invisible to human eyes or spamming links no longer fool a search engine.

It is best to stick to ethical white hat SEO that improves the quality of a website and follows Google’s guidelines to optimize a site for both human audience, as well as search engine algorithm.

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