Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO: What You Need to Know

Black hat SEO is a set of practices which are used to increase a site’s or page’s rank in search engines through means that violate the search engine’s terms of service. The term black hat is derived from western movies where the bad guy always wore a black hat. You will notice that the bad guy would always look sneaky and do things that were considered bad. This is just like some of our black hat protagonists. They will most likely sneak around using cloaking, keyword stuffing, hidden text, and hidden links. Cloaking is used to provide the search engine with a different page than the one a visitor sees. This is done by detecting the IP address of the search engine spider. If a user is detected, a different version of the web page is served. This will get a web page more exposure as it will increase the page’s rank and increase the likelihood of a user clicking onto your site. Keyword stuffing involves the calculated placement of keywords within a page to raise the keyword count, which is often irrelevant to the actual content. Hidden text is done by making the text the same color as the background and/or hiding it off-screen. Hidden links are links that are placed in an insignificant part of a website, so when clicked provides a very small boost to the linked site.

First, let’s define these terms. SEO, or search engine optimization, is a series of practices where businesses or individuals optimize their web content to make it easier for a search engine to categorize and serve their webpage to a user. Optimization can be done in four primary ways: taking advantage of search engine algorithms, updating web content for relevance to certain keywords, linking to other sites or, simply put, making a webpage more search engine friendly. All search engine companies have a set of algorithms, and all have the same goal, to serve the user/potential customer the sites that best fit their search and that are relevant. Now if I haven’t lost you yet, let’s discuss the difference between good SEO and bad SEO.

Definition of Black Hat SEO

SEO is a method used to boost a website’s rank by search engines. A website uses keywords, coding, speed, and other SEO factors to improve their rank. Black Hat SEO uses “aggressive SEO strategies that focus only on search engines and not a human audience, and usually does not obey search engines guidelines”. Usually, a site that uses Black Hat SEO service will have a content that is irrelevant to the title or keyword, and the content will be poorly written, usually spun from an original article, and many blatant keyword use many times being as subtle as making them the same color as the background of the website to boost search ranking. Usually, the traffic that visits a site that uses Black Hat SEO is irrelevant traffic that was generated by bloating keywords that the visitor was actually searching for, making it not something that humans found through a search engine. A visitor to a site that is using Black Hat SEO may not find what he or she was looking for, even though the search rank was high. This method does not yield lasting results, and usually, the site that employed the Black Hat SEO will get banned or penalized, culminating in a rank of zero. Examples of Black Hat SEO include Hidden Text or Links, which is hiding text by making it the same color as the background, cloaking, or misrepresenting the site on different search engines vs. humans, and Doorway or Gateway pages. These “are low-quality web pages that are often very similar to or barely different from the content on the target web page”. Black Hat SEO is usually employed by people or companies that are looking for a quick return on their site, rather than a long-term investment. A site that may have a product that is not very marketable long term employs Black Hat SEO as a way to sell the product in the short term. This is because the results will be quick, and they can stop employing the method when the product is no longer being sold.

Definition of White Hat SEO

White hat SEO refers to the use of optimization strategies, techniques, and tactics that focus on a human audience opposed to search engines and completely follows search engine rules and policies. For example, a website that is SEO optimized, yet focuses on relevancy and organic ranking, is considered to be optimized using white hat SEO practices. This involves no deception whatsoever and is the part most SEO “experts” have the most trouble providing due to the complexity of the work required it. White hat SEO is more frequently used by those who intend to make a long-term investment on their website. This is a risk-free approach because it involves search engine policies and is the true ‘organic’ growth of a website with real content. Long-term investment is key here, as discussed white hat methodologists tend to have a set plan in which they intend to profit on in 6 months to a year, as opposed to less reliable non-risk-free investment as I like to call it.

Importance of SEO in Digital Marketing

So, now if both the old page and new page are indexed by search engines and the new page is not removed after the content on the old page is replaced, there will be 2 same pages indexed by the search engines. In this case, a scraper can visit the old page, copy the data available there, and add it to its website. Now the problem is that the scraper will have the same data available at two different locations. He might delete the copied data after some time, but he won’t be able to find and delete the data from the original content owner’s website. This results in a loss of originality, and the owner is penalized by the search engine for having duplicate content. Now the owner has to search in the browser to find out that the content has been copied, and this is very frustrating. He has to file a DMCA complaint to remove the copied data. These hacking incidents lead to damage to the reputation of the website owner and corrupt data. The only way to get rid of these problems is to add security measures to the site, and SEO is the best of them. When security is added to the site, it is less likely to get hacked. And if the content is properly optimized, it will remain on high rankings in the search engines. A visitor can easily find the optimized content and will keep coming back because he is satisfied. This will reduce the chances of corrupting the content and eliminate the need for moving that content to another location on the website. SEO is today’s most secure and long-term way of marketing. Now, if we compare Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO, Black Hat SEO is just the opposite of what we have explained.

According to research, SEO is very important for digital marketing. Optimization of a website is key to getting more traffic when the content of your website is in high demand. SEO ensures that the ranking of a website is high in all search engines. When certain content is in high demand, there will be a lot of downloads, and there are chances of hackers hacking that content to corrupt the website. If hacking is successful, hackers corrupt the content of the website, and then the content on the site corrupts. The content is still in high demand, and the website owner moves it to another location on the website or to another website. Now, when visitors come to download that content, they will not be able to find it because the content has been moved. If the website owner sees that he is losing traffic because visitors are unable to find the content, he will have to make a new page for that content and add the same data to the new page.

Black Hat SEO Techniques

Keyword stuffing is the practice of inserting a large number of keywords into web content and meta tags in an attempt to artificially increase a page’s ranking in the search results. This may lead to a spam penalty at the search engines, so it is important not to overuse a specific keyword when writing content for your website. You should, however, aim to include a keyword about once every 100-150 words. This will give the appearance of a natural use of the keywords and is acceptable in the eyes of the search engines. A way to make sure your website content is not overusing keywords and still giving the appearance of natural use is to read your content out loud. If the keywords appear obvious to you, you should consider rewording the sentence to include the keywords in a less obvious manner. An important part of keyword density that is often overlooked is picking the right keywords to optimize for. A rule of thumb is that the more competitive a keyword is, the more often it will need to be included in order to increase the density of the keyword. Data analysis of other high-ranking websites should be performed in order to compare the keyword densities used in content with the keyword you wish to optimize for.

Keyword Stuffing

There may be various reasons for keyword stuffing and it is not necessarily an attempt to deceive the search engine user. Websites may want to have detectable keyword density so that each page will be easily categorized under the right term and to have subpages listed under the correct keyword. This is particularly important for web pages that are designed to generate money from advertisements. Due to advertisements being related to the contents of the page, having high keyword density will ensure advertisements are relevant to the page content, in turn increasing potential ad revenue.

The search engines consider this practice deceptive and a poor quality of search results for users. A keyword is a specific word or phrase that describes the contents of a web page. These keywords act as an index for the page. It is a very important part of SEO because the presence or absence of a particular keyword within a web page can strongly affect the visibility of that page with a search engine when users perform retrieval.

Keyword stuffing is a search engine optimization (SEO) technique, considered webspam or spamdexing, in which a web page is loaded with keywords in the meta tags or in content of a web page in an attempt to gain an unfair rank advantage in search engines. Keyword stuffing may lead to a website being banned or penalized on major search engines either temporarily or permanently.


There are a number of reasons why one would cloak a page: – In order to attempt to get a page indexed so it can be updated and used for a long period of time, even if the page goes against search engine guidelines. – In order to get a page indexed and present information to search engine users that is totally irrelevant or in a different language, or to use those gateway pages to redirect visitors to other pages. – To deliver content to search engines in such a way that the content doesn’t affect the look of the site at all and doesn’t show up for visitors, so that rankings can be determined by the content, but don’t accurately reflect the content to the visitors.

This is a method in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the user’s browser. This is done by delivering content based on the IP addresses or the User-Agent HTTP header of the user requesting the page. When a user is identified as a search engine spider, a server-side script delivers a different version of the web page, one that contains content not present on the visible page. The purpose of cloaking is to deceive search engines so they display the page when it would not otherwise.

Hidden Text

One more black hat method is comprising concerning the positioning of hidden text on the page. These text is unsimilar in nature with the background color, therefore it becomes invisible but still crawlers pick it and interpret this as a keyword and assign it to the respective page. This text affects the ranking of a page and changes the PR due to unwanted keyword. Now, this is a fine line of SEO because hidden text is not necessarily meant to be misleading or contain anything dangerous. Websites that are designed with a visual impairment theme in mind often contain hidden text that is used to read the content of a page load to someone who can’t see, so it’s read by an audio program. This text even changes the direction of search engines to the wrong pages and confuses the search engines and indexing methods.

Link Farming

Link farming is among one of the least effective black hat SEO techniques. Link farming is essentially a large group of web sites (most likely, but not always, owned by the same person). By linking all the sites together in a circular pattern, with the finished result of all sites having a link to every other site in the group. The idea of link farming is to increase the number of incoming links to a web site. By doing this, a webmaster hopes to increase their page rank and SERP position. This is a direct violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines, and while it does it can increase page rank short term, there is a very high risk of blacklisting the web site. This can have negative effects, as if the web site is de-indexed in Google, it can be very tough to become re-indexed and can involve a plead to Google for reinclusion.

White Hat SEO Techniques

Quality Content Creation

Once keyword research has been successfully executed, white hat SEO techniques concentrate on developing quality content in order to appeal to visitors and search engines. When creating content, one should attempt to satisfy the needs and interests of those who will access the site. This involves writing clear, informative, and unique content that reflects the business or interest of the site while at the same time paying specific attention to targeting relevant keywords. This is an easy step to execute, considering valuable content provided on a site will naturally contain keywords and keyword phrases that are important to the site. Writing content around a given theme is an indispensable part of business and website promotion. Seasoned copywriters may have picked up some tricks of the trade, and old habits are hard to break. Content should be free from those old habits and focus on new strategies to bring life to what the business or site is trying to promote. Content should speak directly to the target audience and current or potential customers. Whether the content is in the form of a company overview, product description, how-to tutorial, or a solution to a common problem, it should engage visitors and encourage them to remain on the site and continue to move from page to page. This can lead to increased sales, repeat visitors, word of mouth referrals, and a strong following. The end result is highly valuable content that has created a loyal customer base within the target audience.

Proper Keyword Research

When building a new site or expanding your site into new vertical markets, often your easiest initially traffic source is by targeting long-tail keywords (highly targeted search phrases), and this is a perfect strategy to begin with. Let’s take an example of a new site that sells skateboards and skateboard accessories. This is a highly competitive market to try and target the generic keyword ‘skateboard’, which has HUGE search volumes but is dominated by large established sites such as eBay and Amazon. Realistically, this would be a waste of resources trying to target such a competitive keyword at this stage. A more suitable strategy would be to target lower competition, long-tail keywords such as ‘buy cheap skateboards’ or ‘skateboard equipment shops’. These terms may only have a fraction of the search volumes of the generic ‘skateboard’, but the combined effect of a lot of these terms can get the same if not more targeted traffic to the site. By creating content to target specific product type searches and promoting product-specific linkbait, you can gradually work your way up the keyword chain to ‘skateboard’ as the opportunity and return on investment increases.

Keywords are literally the keys to your website. Therefore, a key component to an effective SEO campaign is this part of the process: proper keyword research. This can make or break your site ranking. Often not thorough enough, we’ve seen site after site not perform traffic-wise due to keyword targeting that’s just too competitive. With a bit of initial effort and time invested in the keyword research phase, account managers can make informed decisions on what is achievable and then put a step-by-step strategy in place to target more competitive keywords in the future.

On-Page Optimization

Keyword optimization and density is a primary White Hat tactic used during on-page optimization. Keyword optimization provides focus to your website’s content and allows for a central theme to be present. By researching the most popular keywords for your category, you can effectively shape your website’s content to attract relevant visitors that came looking for your content based on its keywords. This is the essence of gaining a relevant audience, and it’s a common theme among Black Hat and White Hat, though the methods to which it is done will differ greatly. White Hat will research keywords and their density ratings and use them in a way that the content appears to have not been altered to fit them in. Black Hat will use keyword spamming to try and fool search engines into giving a higher rating for results that sometimes have no relevance to the keywords. This is also a tactic used in the use of hidden or nearly invisible text. Usually using CSS to hide the text from human eyes, this text usually contains keywords and is intended to only be viewed by search engines. Taking part in these tactics can result in a website getting banned from a search engine, and is something to be wary of when deciding on which form of SEO to utilize.

On-page optimization involves fine-tuning your web pages by adjusting your internal linking structure, meta-tagging your pages, and using the right tags on your web page. White Hat SEO is focused on optimizing on-page since it puts more emphasis on keyword improvement, content quality, and other factors deemed as within the webmaster’s control. With meta-tags being a large part of on-page optimization, as well as quality content, White Hat SEO puts much weight on these tags, though there is not an entirely too large of a difference in whether White or Black Hat will use meta-tags to their advantage. White Hat will use the meta-tags to a reader’s advantage, by properly describing the content and guiding a visitor towards a certain action. Black Hat, on the other hand, will use meta-tags to deceive both visitors and search engines to maximize site traffic and therefore revenue.

Building High-Quality Backlinks

The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of white-hat link builders is web content. If you offer something that is unique, valuable and/or entertaining, there is a natural desire to reference your information. Webmasters may find your content by many different channels and if it is good enough they will make a post about it and link to you as the original source. This is the most lucrative form of backlink as the anchor text that is used to link to your content is almost always what you have chosen and there are no reciprocal or other requirements asked of you. Writing web content can be very time consuming and unless you are a talented writer it may be beneficial to hire a professional. There are a variety of sites which offer freelance writing services but keep in mind you get what you pay for. Most professional freelance writers will complete an assignment for 10-20 cents per word. Select your writers carefully and make sure that they fully understand what is expected of them. When receiving your content, place it in a new section of your website or make a post and again backlinking to your own content for each article is crucial. With enough money and effort you will entice webmasters to link to your content on their own. A great resource that I have found for a professional content writer is the SEO Services. Prior to creating large amounts of content, it is important to recognize the potential in your content that will make others want to link to it. Writing how-to guides, informational resources, and controversial topics will often get the most attention and thus quality backlinks.

Impact and Consequences

Techniques that are generally used with white hat SEO include using keywords and keyword analysis, using meta tags, backlinking, and link building to improve link popularity, and writing content for human readers. White hat SEO is a more solid method for long-term positioning and traffic for a website. If you are unsure which approach to use, click here to go to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

In the world of SEO, there are “white hats” (the good guys who help search engines find relevant content) and “black hats” (the bad guys who are trying to deceive the search engine). This article will discuss the effects and how search engines view these two types of SEO. White hat SEO utilizes methods and techniques to improve the search engine rankings of a website that don’t run afoul of search engine (mainly Google) guidelines.

Relevancy of a search engine is very important. When a search engine gets a query, it wants to return the most relevant results to the searcher. More relevance generally means more traffic. In order to drive more traffic to their websites, webmasters use something called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.

Benefits of White Hat SEO

As mentioned earlier, White Hat SEO is a methodology that follows all the guidelines and rules used by search engines to rank a website. The very obvious reason why this is so beneficial is that if you are ranked in the order that you desire, the last thing you want to do is be kicked off for not following the rules. There are millions of websites, and search engines are constantly changing and checking their rules, and if you want to be successful, it’s important to stay ranked. Getting banned from a search engine can be a disaster, and in some cases nearly impossible to get back on. There are already horror stories of websites being kicked off search engines because of Black Hat SEO, and it’s really not worth taking the risk. – Another benefit of White Hat SEO is that it is much more satisfying than cheating and cutting corners. With everything in life, if you put the effort into being successful and do things honestly and with integrity, the results are much more satisfying. This is the same with websites. Building your rank and traffic honestly will make the owner more satisfied than taking the easy way out and getting undeserved results. A person’s reputation is important, and this is no different for a business, service or website. With White Hat SEO, a website can maintain or build a good reputation.

Risks and Penalties of Black Hat SEO

In mid-2006, informed a select few BMW Germany webmasters that they were removed from their search engine index due to the incorporation of doorway pages – a black hat SEO technique. The specific page in question was temporarily removed and “nevertheless, the BMW website remains in the index. Sites that are re-included after correcting violations of our guidelines succeed Reinclusion. Optimization is always a tug-of-war with search engines. This event displays the risks associated with black hat SEO as regardless of being a well-known and respected organization, BMW were still penalized and removed from an influential search engine’s index.

The first risk associated with black hat SEO is that it is a short-sighted business solution. White hat SEO may take longer to implement but it will yield long term results. By getting involved in black hat SEO, there is a risk of being banned from search engines which would be a disaster for an organisation as they would lose their ranking overnight. The process of being unbanned can be extensive and costly, and in some cases businesses have been unsuccessful. Being banned from a search engine would halt any significant incoming traffic and in turn would almost eliminate the possibility of sales. Another problem is that search engines are constantly tweaking their algorithms and what is successful black hat SEO today, may not be tomorrow. This means that the risks of penalties relating to black hat SEO are starting to outweigh the benefits.

Long-Term Success with White Hat SEO

Characterizing white hat SEO is simple. Effectively, it refers to using methods that are honest and within search engine rules to increase a website’s ranking. These methods usually involve more effort and take a long time to take effect, but will yield results that are longer lasting. White hat SEO can cover a broad spectrum of methods to improve a website, ranging from well-written articles that are well-tagged with keywords to improving a website’s accessibility. White hat SEO is a systematic approach to improving a website’s quality. The fundamental reasoning behind white hat SEO is to improve and better optimize a website such that it is more easily read by search engines and, as a result, offers higher rankings in search results.

It is apparent that the only way to really get long-term success for your website is to follow the white hat recommendations and by offering good content and good service. This may be difficult for some of you, but in the end it generally has a better effect on your website as a whole. Remember not to fall into the trap of black hat SEO or search engines will penalize your site. A lot of people have been in the situation of having their site removed from Google search engine and will tell you that the hassle of getting back into the search engine is not worth using black hat SEO. Google does not provide an extensive list of methods that can increase a website’s rankings, however the most effective way to increase rankings, through providing detailed information to webmasters, is through the use of white hat methods. In order to appreciate the white hat methods offered, one must understand the reasoning behind white hat SEO and the benefits of doing so will have on a website.

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