Search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques generally get bundled into two categories. White hat SEO and black hat SEO. By the time you finish reading this article you should know:
- The difference between white hat and black hat SEO
- How successful each of these methods can be
- Which is right for your business
Picking the right technique could be the difference between your websites long-term success or failure.
What is White Hat SEO?
In search engine optimisation, white hat SEO refers to using search engine optimisation methods that do not break Google’s webmaster guidelines to gain traffic. Most high-quality search engines have rules and policies, designed to ensure that people cannot artificially manipulate their search results. White hat SEO methods work with these rules to build their organic search audience and rank higher on search engines such as Google. It can also be called ethical SEO.
When compared to black hat methods white hat techniques are more time-consuming. However, as white hat SEO focusses on adding value to the human audience, not just the search engine it often results in you reaching people with a genuine interest in the topic of your website. A highly engaged audience is more likely to remain loyal to your website and has a higher potential to become paying customers. This makes white hat SEO a sustainable technique that over time can greatly impact the successfulness of a website.
Considering the above, white hat SEO is usually used by those that want to have longevity on their website, regardless of how long it takes to get it. There are no guarantees of results but by creating great content and networking you have an excellent opportunity to rank in Google for years to come.
What is Black Hat SEO?
In search engine optimisation, black hat SEO is the use of search engine optimisation methods that take advantage of loopholes or flaws in search engines algorithms. Black hat SEO methods are manipulative in nature and most commonly violate the search engines’ rules such as Google’s webmaster guidelines. Black hat SEO methods are renowned for resulting in dramatic increases (and eventually decreases) in search engine rankings. Following the use of black hat SEO methods websites are often penalised, some of which never recover from these penalties. This has resulted in black hat SEO being viewed as a short-term, and somewhat short-sighted marketing method.
When compared to white hat SEO, black hat methods are much faster to see results. However as fast as the methods may be, the risk to reward will not weigh up for many website owners. You are unlikely to be adding value to the readers of the website, so you are more likely to find that although initially, you will receive a larger footfall to your website this will be short lived. This makes black hat SEO methods high risk, high rewards but less-sustainable than white hat SEO methods.
Considering the above, black hat SEO is usually used by those that don’t need their website to rank well or receive traffic long term, it is a quick fix. The results are usually highly effective but, as they are against Google’s webmaster guidelines, ultimately result in websites being completely blocked from showing on Google search.
Commonly Used White Hat SEO Methods
Some commonly used white hat methods are listed below;
- Create Quality Content – Creating quality content and building authority within your field is one of the greatest ways to improve your position on search engines. With good quality content, you will naturally build good quality links and your target audience will not only be drawn to your website but engage in a way that search engines will know is authentic.
- Easy Site Navigation – Making your website easy for your users to find their way around reduces a website bounce rate and improves Googles bots ability to find it’s way around your site and discover new or updated content.
- Technical Optimisation – There are many technical factors that are important for your website. These include things like optimising the load time of your website to reduce bounce rates or introducing structured data so that Google can display more details about your products such as the price directly in search results.
- Organic Networking – Links matter in SEO, but earning them rather than artificially creating them is vital. Building links in a way where you’re adding true value to the web will help you improve your rank and authority. This can be done by guest blogging or helping other website owners find broken links on their website, suggesting your own high-quality resource as an alternative.
Commonly Used Black Hat SEO Methods
Some commonly used Black Hat methods are listed below;
- Link Schemes – Using a website as a link directory increases a websites backlinks and makes it look like they are trusted by sites, These directories are usually made solely for the purpose of SEO link building. They have no value for a reader and don’t require the content they link to be of any value.
- Hiding Links – This is usually done on a website which is not owned by the person placing the link and therefore has to be hacked to place the links. Again building links in this way if undiscovered looks to be linked by reputable websites or organisations.
- Negative SEO –Perhaps the worst of all the black hat SEO methods is negative SEO. It involves targetting your competitor’s websites using techniques that break Googles guidelines in order to try and reduce their rankings. Effectively as SEO is competitive this is a group of methods by which you push other websites down the rankings rather than working to boost your own ranking.
- Spun Content – This is a technique that takes other peoples content and aims to make it look unique to avoid duplicate content penalties from Google. For example, the word photo may be changed for picture or photograph etc. This is done for hundreds of phrases in a single article. This means that one article can be rewritten by a computer program numerous times, it’s much harder to do these days and requires heavy spinning in order to create a unique looking article.
White Hat Vs Black Hat SEO
Choosing which SEO style is right for you can be accessed initially with one simple question. Do you want to have to change your websites name when you eventually get caught? If your answer is no then the only sensible answer for you is to use white hat SEO. Anything other than this risks your sites removal from search engines.
Black Hat SEO techniques from the outside may look like they work and feel impossible to beat, this, however, is never long lasted and with the likes of Google looking out for these techniques you will eventually get ahead as they are punished by search engines. Remember white hat SEO takes patience and perseverance if you’re trying to build a legitimate brand that isn’t something that happens overnight.
If you feel your competitors are using black hat SEO techniques you can report the offending sites. To report the site you can use Google webmaster tools and make a webspam claim, be sure to provide plenty of detail to substantiate your claim otherwise many webspam claims simply go ignored. If you require any help or advice don’t hesitate to contact us.