White Hat and Black Hat SEO: what’s the difference?
On hearing the terms ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat’ SEO, your immediate thought may be that it sounds like something out of a film. You wouldn’t be wrong! The term came from the 1973 film Westworld, that depicts a futuristic theme park full of robots who welcome their guests into a dark world.
On entering, guests are asked to choose between a white hat and a black hat, which ultimately decides whether they will play the part of villain or hero as part of the wild west experience.
The unique film has become a metaphor for businesses who invest in inbound marketing, by creating a ‘goodie’ and ‘baddie’ concept to use as part of their link building strategy.
What is White Hat SEO?
White hat SEO is characterised as any business owner who approaches their marketing with caution, choosing to follow the clear rules set out by Google, to ensure that they are generating quality content that is likely to drive website traffic.
How do businesses implement White Hat SEO?
For businesses who choose the white hat and to take on the role of a hero, they concentrate their efforts on organic link building.
It goes without saying that all content is well-written, without spelling and grammatical errors and relevant to your target audience.
The next most important element of a white hat marketing strategy is that keywords are used effectively. This means taking the time to research what the relevant keywords are to your business and using them correctly, i.e. not keyword stuffing or using irrelevant phrases just because they’re commonly used.
Alongside well-written content and sensible use of keywords, it makes great marketing sense to link to other pages on your own site within articles or information pages. The same goes for backlinks, where other sites link to yours and vice versa. Any linked sites should both be using similar strategies for this to work.
The final and most important way to implement white hat SEO is to pay close attention to your site’s meta description – the short piece of copy underneath your site name that appears in Google’s search results. This should be personalised and without many keywords; the most important one is best placed here.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is white hat’s evil twin. It’s everything that white hat isn’t and it’s easy to see why! Black hat SEO is all about cutting corners, taking risks and all those other fun things to ultimately drive traffic to your website more quickly.
As building organic traffic and a genuine audience takes more time and effort, especially for new businesses, some marketers choose to go against the grain and implement rule-breaking tactics in attempt to speed up the process.
Is Black Hat SEO ever worth it?
It’s up to each individual business owner, but putting on your black hat is likely to cause issues at some point down the line. Google penalises websites that use certain tactics to boost traffic, which can mean losing your site altogether.
Black Hat SEO strategies are mostly about automation and faking pieces of content that aren’t really there. Adding popular keywords that have nothing to do with the content attract traffic because they link to a celebrity, for example.
Another way that Black Hat SEO works is by implementing a programme that automatically posts comments within the comments section under an article. This keeps the URL active, but more often than not, it posts comments that are completely irrelevant to the topic and don’t make any sense.
Black Hat SEO features hiding all sorts of links, text and URL’s within your content. These are all attempts to boost rankings, by deceiving search engines that there’s more activity going on than there actually is.
Examples of this include creating fake pages that display differently for visitors and search engines, hide keywords and then redirect or hide links and white text within the content.
In conclusion, white hat and black hat SEO are completely different – and for good reason. Cutting corners may bring short-term gain, but in the long run, keeping your white hat on will drive that valuable organic traffic every business is looking for.