Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO – Everything You Need to Know

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an integral part of online marketing and can often mean the difference between success and failure for any business. As such, individuals and organizations are seeking new strategies to better their SEO efforts and to achieve the desired results as swiftly as possible. The obvious results being Increase organic traffic and increase SERP results for targeted keywords.

The fundamental difference between Black Hat and White Hat SEO lies within how an SEO expert conducts his back linking strategy. Black Hat SEO look for the quick and always wrong approach that gets you penalized. White Hat SEO approach looks at the long term approach that doesn`t get you penalized (though you still can if your SEO expert does it wrong).

Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO includes all the best practice strategies – built upon methods that are compliant with search engine regulations – employed by website owners to attain higher rankings on SERPs.

Black Hat SEO, on the other hand, as you might guess, is the exact opposite. Deception is often employed, using methods which are frowned upon by search engines and contrary to their guidelines in order to enhance a website’s rankings. Black Hat practices always get caught in the end.

Major Differences

  • Compliance: Black Hat SEO involves techniques which are considered unethical by search engines, while White Hat SEO techniques conform to regulations and include no deception.
  • Approval: White Hat SEO is approved by all search engines, while Black Hat is not.
  • Consequence: The result of engaging in Black Hat SEO is that the website may get penalized with lower rankings, de-indexed, and might even be banned, and these penalties last for a long time.
  • Methods: Where White Hat SEO includes techniques such as research, quality content, analysis, web design, and relevant meta tags. Black Hat SEO methods comprise of blog comment spam, link farming, keyword stuffing, hidden links, and cloaked pages.

One has to wonder why people continue to insist upon using Black Hat SEO when the penalties imposed are so severe.

Black Hat SEO Techniques = Severe Penalties from Search Engines

The answer lies in the perceived effectiveness of each technique. It is generally agreed that White Hat methods take a long time to actually deliver results and that is why people are tempted to employ riskier methods.

Panda, Penguin and Negative SEO

Google uses various algorithms – and updates them constantly – in an effort to make search results as relevant, authentic, and spam-free as possible.

  • In the Google Panda update, looks at websites content for quality, rewarding websites who maintain high quality and lower sites that have low quality. Furthermore, since it was released, it’s not just individual pages that are penalized for low quality, but the entire website’s ranking is affected.
  • In the Google Penguin update, it seeks out Black Hat SEO techniques in particular, penalizing thousands since its launch for having used link farms to accumulate a host of bad links. However, website owners cannot always control who provides a link to their pages. The Penguin update definetely took the entire SEO world by storm but was highly received by all the good SEO companies (like us!)

All things considered, you might want to stick to White Hat SEO, even if you have to wait a while before your website shows up near the top of SERPs.

About the Author

Matthew Goulart

Matthew Goulart is the founder of Ignite Digital, a Canadian digital marketing agency. Through Ignite Digital, Goulart works with Fortune 500 companies and advertising agencies from around the world and has helped launch profitable and highly successful digital marketing initiatives for his clients.