SEO & SEM

The Difference Between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO

By Laia Cardona, on 21 May 2020

SEOs, bloggers, and marketers are alway trying to stay on top of the latest trends and techniques. But sometimes certain techniques aren’t as good as others.

White and Black Hat SEO are two totally different SEO strategies that yield different results, but one is better than the other. Today’s we’re explaining everything you need to know about the two, and seeing which one is worth incorporating into your traffic building techniques.

Keep reading to learn the difference between white hat and black hat SEO, and the different practices of each.

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The Difference Between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO

What is White Hat SEO?

White hat SEO encompasses ethical, ethical, transparent and non-penalized SEO techniques recommended by search engines. In short, it's the legitimate way to do SEO.

White hat SEO follow search engines guidelines and rules in order to improve ranking and organic traffic. By following the rules, white hat SEO ensures both marketers and search engines are able to provide value and security to search engine users. White hat SEO doesn’t use shady tactics or sneaky work arounds to fool the algorithm, and Google takes note. 

White Hat SEO Techniques

  • Keyword research: Keyword research is used to find out the most relevant search terms for your brand. The idea is to use them naturally in your content, written texts, images, headers, etc. But be careful! Keyword stuffing (repeating keywords again and again at the cost of readability) is considered black hat SEO, so do not have abuse your keywords.
  • Content creation: Unique, quality, and original content offers high value for users and generates incoming links naturally, which improves reputation and positioning in search engines.
  • Mobile optimization: Since Google's algorithm uses the mobile version of the websites as the basis for its index, it is essential to optimize your mobile site, with either with a responsive design or with AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
  • Improved loading speed: Another very relevant factor not only for search engine positioning, but also for the user experience. An overlooked white hat SEO technique is ensuring that your website’s loading time is not slow.
  • Structure of contents and URLs: A well-organized website with good internal linking greatly facilitates the work of Google’s robots and is therefore rewarded with good positioning.

Advantages of White Hat SEO

  1. Security: As opposed to its black hat, White hat SEO techniques are not penalized by Google, as they abide by Google’s guidelines and rules.
  2. Ethical: If you manage to get in the top positions with white hat SEO, it will be because you are doing things right and bringing real value to the users.
  3. Stability: Pages that use black hat techniques may manage to position quite quickly, but when they are caught and penalized they drop in the rankings just as quickly. Instead, optimizing pages using white hat methods ensures that your position stays more stable, even if there are changes in Google's algorithms.
  4. Profitability: White hat techniques manage to generate high quality organic traffic, which in turn results in an increase in all digital marketing indicators (lead generation, conversions, etc.). This means that by using white hat SEO methods, your traffic quality will also be higher as the traffic is likely more qualified.

What is Black Hat SEO?

On the other hand, black hat SEO looks to achieve fast results in violation of Google's standards. They usually rely on tricking search engines in some way to climb the search engine results page (SERPs) easily.

Although black hat SEO may sometimes bring immediate results, in the long run it is never worth it because the search engine penalties are very severe if they detect any attempt to cheat the system. Therefore, black hat SEO usually ends up generating the opposite effect it aimed out to achieve.

The other problem with black hat SEO is that it does not bring any value to end users. Therefore, although it may be effective in the short term, it ends up being detrimental to a company's marketing objectives. It's always better to go step by step and build a solid foundation using White Hat techniques.

Common Black Hat SEO Techniques 

  1. Keyword stuffing. It consists of entering a keyword over and over again on a website or content piece so that the search engine can position for it. According to Google rules, the keyword should always be used naturally and respond to users' needs by providing valuable information or content. Repeating a word over and over again without reason will affect content quality and user experience.
  2. Cloaking. One of the most important standards of ethical SEO is that websites must appear the same for users and trackers. In the case of cloaking, the trap is to generate a super-optimized website for search engines, but that would be unreadable for a human being. The unreadable website is then cloaked, or covered, with another website designed for users but that is not traceable in search engines.
  3. Spinning. Spinning is based on "hacking" content creation using programs that modify a single article to generate several different texts, for example, by using synonyms. Logically, this practice does not add any value to the reader, and Google's algorithms are increasingly detecting it faster and more frequently.
  4. Hidden text. This SEO black hat practice is very old and violates the regulations of displaying the same content to users and crawlers. It's about hiding texts that repeat keywords over and over by putting the text in the same color as the background or reducing the size.
  5. Link selling. Backlinks, or inbound links, are one of the most important factors for positioning a website, but these must be obtained organically. Therefore, purchasing and selling backlinks is considered a black hat SEO technique and is subject to penalty.

The Difference Between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO

Essentially the difference between white hat SEO and black hat SEO boils down to doing the right thing or not. And in the midst of both there is a third category which tries to push the boundaries of what is allowed: grey hat SEO.

But, while it may be tempting to use quick tricks and sneaky steps to bypass the hard work of SEO, this will never benefit your website or brand in the long run. Sticking with white hat SEO is what will give your website the best shot at increasing its domain authority and landing in the number one spot on Google. 

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Laia Cardona

Responsable de la estrategia de inbound marketing en Cyberclick. Gestión del CRM con Hubspot, de la base de datos y creación de la estrategia global de contenidos, workflows y lead nurturing. Experiencia en marketing digital, comunicación digital y periodismo en medios de comunicación. ______________________________________________________________________ Responsible for the inbound marketing strategy at Cyberclick. Experience in digital marketing, digital communication, media journalism, CRM management with Hubspot, creation of global content strategy, workflows and lead nurturing.