Even those who aren’t very familiar with SEO know that there are two kinds of search engine optimization: white hat SEO and black hat SEO. However, there seems to be some confusion about what these terms mean.
What’s more, unless you’ve been in the SEO marketing industry for a while, you may not be aware that there’s also a gray area between the two. So what SEO tactics are you using, and which hat do you wear? Let’s have a closer look at some of the differences between black hat and white hat SEO:
White Hat SEO
Marketers who wear the white hat when it comes to SEO follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which means that they play the SEO game by the book. In practice, that comes down to staying updated about Google algorithm changes and coming up with ways to use them in the best way possible. One advantage of the white hat is that when Google’s algorithms change, your SEO strategies won’t be suddenly rendered obsolete.
Black Hat SEO
However, being rendered obsolete is something that can happen to those who wear the black hat. These people don’t use Google’s guidelines in the traditional sense, but rather look for ways around them. For example, buying links or Google reviews is one of the black hat SEO practices that can help you position your site on the top of Google SERPs quite quickly.
The downside of black hat, other than being fundamentally unethical, is that Google will always find ways to fight it. Once the algorithm update rolls out, a website that’s been built up with black hat SEO can be hit quite hard, and it may lose its authoritative standing in a short time.
What Is SEO in between White Hat and Black Hat?
The reality of practicing SEO is that most SEO professionals fall somewhere in between white hat and black hat when it comes to following Google’s guidelines. For example, Google tends to frown upon active link building, but since it’s such an essential part of SEO, it would take years to get a website to be recognized as an authority without utilizing it. That’s why marketers actively build links, and that might put them into the gray hat area.
Using Black Hat SEO in an Unethical Way
Sometimes clients are looking for black hat tactics and strategies to climb the ranks more quickly. While this is risky for their future standing in the SERPs, it’s also their choice.
Unfortunately, sometimes unethical SEO practitioners use black hat SEO tactics without informing their client.
They take money to help websites climb the ranks, and the clients usually don’t know that their future livelihood is being jeopardized that way. Even white hat practices can hurt a website’s ranking if it’s not being done well. SEO practitioners who use black hat techniques anyway and move on are not the ones you should be contracting.
SEO is a necessary complement to any digital marketing strategy, but it’s not a quick solution. If you wish to start enjoying good results for your business, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to discuss your marketing strategy and help in any way I can.
Rob Dunford is a Marketing Consultant in the Great Toronto Area with over 20 years of experience in implementing marketing plans for small businesses.