White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO
When it comes to doing SEO for your site – you’ll always have many strategies and tips at your disposal.
But before choosing the right strategies and tips for your site, you have to ensure that they’re not against the guidelines that have been provided by search engines, for example, Google.
Google says that you should optimize your site for the audience – not specifically for the search engine.
But when you put too much pressure on creating SEO strategies that fit best as per search engine’s guidelines – chances are you might end up abusing the search.
To avoid crossing the line, you should know one distinction in the world of SEO – White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO.
However, before jumping over to the difference – let’s understand what exactly they mean.
Additionally, I will also discuss a third term, “Grey Hat SEO,” a mix of both (White Hat and Black Hat SEO).
What is White Hat SEO?
White Hat SEO refers to the optimization practices to rank higher in SERP that comply with the search engine’s guidelines.
They follow search engines’ guidelines: Google has its webmaster guidelines that tell all about these practices.
So, if you’re not hiding something from Google and keep it open to be cross-checked, you are naturally not doing something that can harm your website.
It caters to the audience: better the practices, better the experience. If you are honest with what you do, your audience will connect and resonate with your content. Your page will answer their questions and won’t leave them disappointed.
But there’s no shortcut to that! It is undoubtedly time taking. When you are abiding by the rules, it will take more time. It will demand more time, investment, and intense work, doing everything to the last detail.
So, achieving results won’t be a cakewalk! But once it is done, the outcomes would be worth it all! You will see long-lasting results that help you stay in the game for the long term.
If you aim to follow the legitimate practices that fall under the search engine’s guidelines, then there are a few things that you must do:
High quality content
As they say, “content is the king.” Rightfully so! The better your content, the more the chances to outrank your competitors. It is something that lies totally in your hand and is a direct indicator of users’ experience.
Make sure you do exhaustive research, real-time data, the latest statistics, experiential knowledge, and lengthier content.
With so much written in your industry, come up with something that is a great add-on and unique.
Captivating meta tags and headings
While they help attract users, they also help crawlers better understand the content.
The meta tags form the first impression of your page on SERP. If they are not direct and clear, users won’t bother to click and visit your page as they have ample options already.
The heading tags decide the structure of your content and how it proceeds. The H1 title should contain the most crucial keyword on your page, H2 should have the following important keyword, and so forth. Ideally, there should not be more than six heading tags on a single page.
The right meta title, self-explanatory description, alt tags for images, making words bold or italic when required are some of the things we all forget!
It is evident that if more people vouch for your content, it has some quality. It is a clear indicator that the content is highly likable and can deliver a good user experience.
Not to forget, the authority of links plays a significant role here. One quality link from an authoritative website is better than ten backlinks from small websites with less authority.
A simplified structure has higher chances of being quickly crawled and indexed. It allows easy navigation both for crawlers and users.
To create a well-structured website – Link category pages with the parent page and use internal linking.
Whenever you come up with some new content, try linking it with old content. The internal linking will increase traffic to your previous content and help people discover your site more.
A site taking too long to get loaded will frustrate the visitors and lead to pogo-sticking. It is one of the most common technical issues that can hinder your site’s performance.
Using the right keywords
keywords have a significant role to play here. It is essential to use keywords that go with your content.
You can not fool the search engines by using keywords that have no link with what’s written on your page. They have to go with the topic.
Using right codes and images
Heavy codes are one common reason for slow-loading websites. If your codes are not clean and have big gaps between the lines, your site speed will be directly impacted.
Compressing images is another common thing that people skip. Make sure to compress images without deteriorating their quality.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEO refers to the optimization practices to rank higher in SERP against the search engine’s guidelines.
It might produce results quickly and through easier ways, but it will not have lasting effects.
For example, here are some of the ill practices you should strictly avoid and be aware of:
Keywords were always meant to help crawlers with your content and enable top results for a searcher’s query.
But, many people started abusing the system. They started over-optimizing keywords as using more keywords was a direct indicator of the quality of your content.
This is one of the most common practices to reach higher rankings. The keywords were abruptly inserted between lines without making any sense.
In today’s age, Google has come up with algorithms that can detect such ill practices and blacklist or permanently ban you from getting indexed.
In earlier times, people hid the text by merging them in the background.
For example, using the white font on a white background. This tactic was used to trick search engines by using extra keywords.
Using bad link schemes
If you hide links from search engines, it means they are not genuine. You can turn their font size to zero or match it with the background, just like hiding texts.
These can be irrelevant links unrelated to their content—for example, a skincare website linking to a yoga mat seller.
You must have heard of this term in SEO, right? These are the pages that you create to rank for specific keywords. As the name suggests, it acts as a ‘doorway’ that leads to the actual content.
You must have seen a redirect on a page that quickly changes to another page containing what you searched for. It also includes creating many copies of the same page.
The pages will have the same content, but the keywords will change. They do not have any original value of their own.
For example, black hat for women, black hat for children, black hat for old aged people, etc. To avoid any bad practices – these pages should have unique content.
This can also extend to even creating multiple domains and subdomains.
Put simply, it means showing different content to users and search engines. This is done to show search engines that yes! Your content is good enough to be ranked, but when a user visits your page, he sees something else.
Good practice should be totally the opposite of this. You should instead create acceptable content for your users because you’re on a search engine to eventually answer your visitor’s query, and it is natural that you would be liked by the search engines also.
Low quality content
Search engines want to publish the best content for every keyword. Because coming up with unique content is not an easy task, many people tend to skip it.
Low-quality content is always easy to create but leads to nowhere. Producing cheap-quality content is a bad sign for your business.
Such content is not created keeping the searcher’s intent in mind and thus, can not answer real-life queries.
Many website owners create false redirects that mislead visitors to totally irrelevant pages. For example, a high-quality page redirects to a low-quality page to boost up its ranking. This leads to a bad user experience.
Spamming the comment section
Earlier, people used to leave links to their websites in the comment section of another website.
This was one of the most practiced ways to get backlinks to your site. Due to this, more and more people started providing it to get backlinks from those websites.
People started spamming it with most of the comments having links rather than some genuine feedback or anything relevant.
Later on, Google controlled this with its Panda and Penguin update that such links were considered irrelevant, wherein the link juice passed by such websites would be significantly less.
The Difference between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO
As I explained before –
The significant difference is White Hat SEO follows search engine guidelines and enhances user experience, whereas Black Hat SEO violates search engine guidelines and has no regard for users.
Better user experience
When you follow the right practices, it naturally abides by the search engine’s policies. As we know, search engines aim at delivering the best user experience possible; the right practices will always lead to that.
All the points that we discussed above help in achieving it. This will generate more traffic for your website that will increase your reach.
Boosting your ranking
The more you align with the search engines, people will like the more your site. It keeps you from the danger of being caught as you are doing everything transparently.
This majorly includes coming up with excellent content, getting high-quality backlinks, making your site work faster, etc.
Fear no updates
Google is constantly improvising its functions and can come with a big update out of nowhere.
If you have designed your website for a great user experience, don’t worry! But, if you are indulging in loose practices, then you might get in big trouble.
You need not be afraid about penalties as you are following all the rules of Google’s algorithm.
Good for pocket
When you follow the rules, there are no shortcuts. But one thing that is guaranteed is results. In black hat SEO, you may get results sooner, but these benefits are short-lived.
On the other hand, white hat SEO can take longer to meet the targets, but they are sustained results.
Though money is too much, you need to put in extra hard work and have patience as the process takes time.
If you’re delivering content that’s serving the audience, you are connecting with people.
They indulge and interact with your craft. A good user experience will get you registered in their minds and, no doubt, you when they visit next.
This way, the visitors turn into prospects that turn into customers and finally promoters.
Improves your reputation
Your reputation is always clean and safe when you don’t go against the rules.
Make sure you stay in the good books of Google or any other search engine where you publish your content, or else you get penalized.
What is Grey Hat SEO?
As clear from the name, it falls somewhere in the middle of white hat and black hat SEO. It is a combination of the two of them. Gray hat SEO includes tricks and tactics that are all fine to be used in the present but are potential black hat tactics for the future.
Using these tactics is not entirely safe as the site might end up in trouble as new update snowballs at them.
A few standard practices under Gray hat SEO are:
Buying a domain
When you buy a domain to improve the SEO for your website is known as domain grabbing. You can also buy expired domains. This will support you with link building as the domain was already working before you.
According to the backlink profile, you can choose which domain you want to buy.
A few considerations before buying an expired link:
- No fake linking practices
- Domain authority
- Authority of backlinks
- Number of domains that refer to it
- Don’t forget to add redirection to your website
Adding more content
The lengthier the blog, the better it is for your website. It is usually believed that longer content works better than short-written ones and can easily rank.
You can always add more content to the post you’ve created and update it. This way, you can:
- Easily get backlinks
- Encourage more people to share it on social media
- Invite more traffic to your website
- Increase the stay time on your website
A Private Blog Network is what many people do for link building. You can use this network for both right and wrong practices.
If you are creating original and quality content on relevant topics, then it is counted under gray hat SEO. But if you are using it to publish duplicate content and generate backlinks, it falls under black hat SEO.
Submit your site to web directories
You must be wondering what exactly web directory submission is? When you submit your website on various directories providing all the needed information like business name, the current address of work, contact details, etc.
Common directories include Justdial, Sulekha, etc. These submissions will increase your website visibility and backlinks.
Increasing the social media reach
Creating many social media accounts under one name is one way to increase social media shares. This way, you can have more followers, forwards, likes, tweets, etc.
If you get famous on social media organically, then it is a white hat SEO practice. But if it happens by creating multiple dummy accounts and buying likes, then it is a gray hat SEO tactic.
If you plan to go down this path, all you have to do is create multiple accounts across all the platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
But it is not recommended for a long-lasting image for your business. Sooner or later, people discover that it’s done from a fake id and immediately unfollow you.
Black Hat SEO and Grey Hat SEO
No matter even if it’s Grey Hat SEO – using any tactics with the intent of manipulating Google’s algorithm may have two possible consequences:
Your site’s rankings could get demoted when Google updates its algorithm.
Your site could get a manual penalty for violating Google’s search engines terms. And manual penalty could be as bad as getting your site banned.
White Hat SEO improves user experience, helps create amazing content, makes your site faster, suitable for both users and search engines. As a result, your site can become very popular, translating into more sites linking to your site.
On the contrary, Black Hat SEO does precisely the opposite of it.
Hence, it leaves you with no better option than White Hat SEO.