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White hat vs Black hat SEO

You’ve heard about SEO. But have you heard about white hat SEO and black hat SEO? These are crucial elements to understand when you are undertaking SEO on your business’ website. 

White hat SEO vs Black hat SEO

What is the difference between white hat and black hat SEO (search engine optimisation)? 

Essentially, it comes down to who you are creating your website and content for – the user, or the search engine. Are you trying to deceive Google, or are you following the guidelines?

Google has outlined a series of Webmaster Guidelines. These guidelines help SEO professionals know what practices they should follow, and what techniques they should avoid when optimising websites.   

What is white hat SEO?

White hat SEO is simply referred to as SEO – in other words, it means you are using Google’s approved techniques to optimise your website. 

If you are undertaking whitehat SEO strategies, you will minimise your risk of getting penalised from Google. 

White hat SEO focuses on the user first, rather than focusing on the search engine ranking the website well.

The downside to white hat SEO is that is can take numerous months to achieve the results you’re wanting. As a result of this, people can often be tempted to undertake black hat SEO to speed up their results. 

What is black hat SEO?

Black hat SEO involves undertaking activities which are not within Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Unlike white hat SEO, black hat SEO disregards the user, with the techniques aimed at search engines and increasing rankings quickly. 

These techniques used to be more rampant in the SEO community. However, Google has released numerous penalties which help to prevent black hat behaviour, such as the widely known Panda and Penguin penalties. These penalties can result in a drop in rankings or being removed from search engine results completely, which will negatively impact traffic flow and sales. 

To avoid receiving a Google penalty, it is recommended to avoid black hat SEO strategies. But what exactly are black hat SEO techniques? 

Keyword stuffing: this involves using keywords too many times within your content. People will use keyword stuffing with the aim of increasing the ranking of that page for the specific phrase. However, content which includes keyword stuffing often reads unnaturally, with sentences that do not flow. 

Hidden keywords: keyword stuffing can look obvious, so one solution to this is to hide the keywords. This is done by including the keyword in the content, but changing the colour of the text so it is the same as the background. This means the search engine will still see the keyword is included on the web page and rank it higher, but the users will not see the keyword stuffing. 

Scraped content: this is content which is low quality, but is aimed to fool the search engine to get a page to rank higher. 

Link schemes: Google will rank websites which have more authority. One way to prove your business’ authority is by having external websites link to your website. A way to achieve this quickly is by participating in a link scheme. There are numerous schemes which are considered black hat behaviour. These schemes use automated programs to increase the number of links pointing to a website or will exchange links with each other. 

Comment spam: when you visit a blog post, you might notice spammy comments with links to websites. This is comment spam, and it tries to get more links pointing to a certain website. 

Sneaky redirects: if a page is broken, it needs to be redirected to a new page. Black hat techniques will redirect the user to an unrelated page than what they expected on the search engine results. 

Duplicate content: if you have numerous pages on your website with content that is exactly the same, you may receive a penalty for duplicate content. You also want to ensure you are not duplicating content from another website.

Grey hat SEO

There is also a third category, known as grey hat SEO. This category doesn’t have quite the same clear cut definition as white hat and black hat SEO. 

As the name implies, grey hat is a type of SEO that is neither white hat nor black hat. Grey hat SEO is still undertaken with the intention of gaining rankings, however, you may not automatically receive a penalty. 

Takeaway lessons

If you are looking for a technique that will get you results quickly, you may want to undertake black hat SEO. However, these techniques come with a much larger risk of receiving a Google Penalty. These can take months to recover from, and can sometimes result in businesses needing to make a completely new domain. 

If you want to avoid a penalty, it is recommended to undertake white hat SEO. This will take longer to achieve the results you have in mind, however, this will not be penalised by Google. 

If you are undertaking SEO, carefully consider the risks before implementing any black hat practices. To avoid the risk, follow the guidelines and undertake white hat SEO instead. 

Do you need help with SEO? Contact Patch Agency’s SEO specialists today.

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