Where there is light, there is darkness. This is also true with the SEO approach.
In today’s article about white hat vs black hat SEO, I will guide you through what are their approaches, differences and why you should never consider practicing black hat SEO.
To fully understand about SEO, check out my complete SEO guide article.
What Is White Hat SEO?
In simple words, white hat SEO refers to the correct, ethical way of optimizing the site for ranking.
Whatever strategies you have learned or read so far are white hat SEO approaches.
In a nutshell, white hat SEO approaches should meet the following criteria:
1. It follows search engine guidelines
The most widely-accepted definition of white hat SEO is that it follows Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
These are the rules that Google has laid out to define the proper way to optimize a site.
And while they go into a bit of detail as to what an “ethical” SEO strategy looks like, they can essentially be summed up with one simple idea: Don’t be manipulative.
So, in general, if you’re not attempting to manipulate rankings or otherwise deceive Google’s algorithm, you’re likely following their guidelines and using white hat SEO.
2. It focuses on a human audience
White hat SEO involves making changes that are beneficial to a site’s visitors.
And when you consider that Google’s top priority is to provide its users with the best possible results, it makes sense that this is an essential component of the “right” way to do SEO.
Fortunately, many of the most effective SEO strategies already involve taking steps that improve the experience a site provides its visitors.
Tactics like publishing high-quality content and improving page load times improve the value that users get from a site, and the ease with which they can navigate it — making them upstanding, Google-approved strategies.
3. It takes a long-term approach
Strategies that follow Google’s guidelines and create a positive user experience are often more time- and work-intensive than black hat methods.
This means that it will take time to see the results you want.
Some Of White Hat SEO Approaches:
Content Optimization: This includes the optimization of content around the targeted keywords. Your keywords should be naturally inserted, sprinkled across all the pages and particular topics.
Technical SEO: Optimization is done on your website related to technical aspects such as page speed, site’s architecture, image optimization, etc.
Link Building: Some people may consider this as a grey hat SEO, but it’s still a white hat approach if you do it the right way. Two of the most popular ones are guest posting and email outreach.
What Is Black Hat SEO?
The complete opposite to white hat SEO is termed as black hat SEO.
If a tactic meets the following criteria, it can be classified as a black hat.
1. It violates search engine guidelines
Black hat tactics violate Google’s guidelines, and in many cases, are directly referenced in these guidelines as practices you shouldn’t use.
2. It relies on manipulative tactics
While white hat SEO involves looking for ways to improve user experience, the black hat SEO relies on manipulating Google’s algorithm to improve rankings.
To put it simply, if a tactic is designed to make Google think that a site provides more value to users than it really does, it’s deceptive — and it’s black hat SEO.
3. It focuses on “quick wins”
Many of the strategies involved in black hat SEO are focused on exploiting loopholes in Google’s algorithm that can lead to improvements in rankings without much work.
Some Of Black Hat SEO Approaches:
Unrelated keywords: Adding keywords that have no connection to your content is a red flag for search engines because of how unnatural it looks.
Content automation (in the body text or the comment section): We can all recognize a bot comment instantly, and although this text contains one or two keywords that will help the URL rank higher, it’s randomly generated and makes absolutely no sense to the reader – and search engines pick up on this.
Doorway pages: These are essentially fake pages that are overloaded with keywords that make them easier for search engines to find.
However, once clicked, they automatically redirect visitors to a separate page and are therefore meaningless.
Cloaking: This deceptive strategy involves presenting visitors and search engines completely different content. The goal is to deceive search engines so they display a URL when it would not otherwise be displayed.
Invisible text or links: Another common black hat technique is to hide text or links within your content in an effort to improve rankings.
White Hat Vs Black Hat SEO – Which One To Choose And Why
So now you know the difference between them. Which one to go for?
I bet the first thing that comes to your mind must be “black hat SEO” because it seems like a shortcut to your SEO success. But wait, guys. The success is short-lived.
That’s because Google is constantly improving its algorithm to provide the best results to searchers, and to prevent site owners who don’t provide a great site experience from ranking well.
This means that sites using black hat strategies are at risk for losing their rankings every time there’s a new algorithm update — making this a much more short-term approach than white hat SEO.
Another consequence of this approach is if Google finds out that you have followed the unethical method of ranking, your site will get blacklisted or banned.
DON’T EVER CONSIDER TRYING THIS!
What To Do If Your Site Is Penalized By Google?
Sooner or later, if you have been practicing black hat search engine optimization for a while, you will get hit by Google update.
Most of the penalties can be easily fixed by just following the guidelines which you will get in Google Serch Console.
Some can be permanent in serious cases like link building, spamming, etc.
Here are steps to take when your site is penalized.
1. Make sure it’s really a penalty
Most people see the drop in their rankings and think that they are hit by Google update.
In reality, this could be just a Google core update, which can cause a sudden drop or spike in traffic and search results.
So what you should do is to monitor the change and get updated with the SEO news. If nothing gets better after about a month, it’s time to proceed to the next step.
2. Check Google Search Console
Search Console can provide great insights into how your website performs.
If you get hit by the updates, most of the warnings and reports will be displayed in the panel, along with how to fix them.
All you have to do is to follow the procedures and wait for the changes to take effect.
3. If you can’t fix it
There are 2 types of penalties, i.e. algorithmic and manual.
If your site is hit by an algorithmic update, the fix should help after sometimes. However, for manual penalties such as links related issues and spam, this could be permanent.
You can still, validate these fixes with search console regarding manual penalties, but in the end, it all depends on Google.
If nothing works out, the last thing you would want to do is to build a new site on a new domain name.
That’s all for white hat vs black hat SEO and their differences.
While both the approaches share the common goal i.e to rank your site, they use very different strategies.
While black hat SEO promises quick results, it is short-lived whereas white hat SEO promises consistency.
The most successful brands opt for white hat SEO in their search efforts because the strategy focuses on making your site more visible through quality content and organic link building.
This applies to local business SEO as well.
Have you ever tried any black hat SEO approaches before? Let me know in the comment section.