Within the circles of online businesses and websites, SEO techniques are increasing rapidly in popularity. The terms “white hat SEO” and “black hat SEO” are frequently used. What constitutes as “black hat” or “white hat” SEO practice?
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
In the quest for higher website rankings (or visibility) on major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN etc.), SEO is a useful tool for the building up of a business’s brand and credibility. The basic principle of sales is to appeal to the wants and needs of a consumer. In order to “corner” and attract a market, they need to be catered for on “their terms”. SEO enables website and online business owners the opportunity to grow and consistently strengthen their place within the market. The market is, however, a competitive one. Accepted and sly methods have thus surfaced as a result, known as “white hat SEO” and “black hat SEO”.
What is White Hat SEO?
“White hat SEO” is the term used to describe ethical SEO practices. These practices are those that comply with the guidelines set out by search engines as acceptable SEO conduct. Guidelines offer website owners the opportunity to best achieve long lasting and better rankings on major search engines, primarily with the use of effective keyword and phrase choices. In this way, higher rankings have a better chance of increasing traffic flow. Increased traffic flow to a website then has a better opportunity of being converted into customers or clients.
“White hat SEO” methods are tried and tested techniques that match a search engine’s ranking algorithm. “White hat SEO” techniques do not present website owners with immediate results. The growth period is relatively slow and takes some time to effectively create. Crafting an SEO friendly and effective website complete with relevant content takes a little time. The climb on the ladder of high search engine rankings is also relatively slow, but the achieved results are rewarding and longer lasting.
“White hat SEO” sites have the opportunity to gradually “build themselves from the ground up”. In other words a major search engine indexes new website pages, which may have been updated and made more SEO friendly, with new text changes. A website’s ranking then increases once new content and links are updated. This boost will not usually place a website on the top of the rankings list, but it does put a site in a far better position to gradually make their way onto the first page of a search engine, climbing to that ever desirable number 1 spot. This gradual climb should see increasingly satisfactory improvement within a matter of months.
What is Black Hat SEO?
“Black hat SEO” is the term used to describe unethical or spam practices. The techniques that are used with “black hat SEO” do not comply with the accepted guidelines or code of conduct set by major search engines. “Black hat” techniques manipulate by using methods that “cheat” the accepted guidelines in order to boost a website’s rankings quickly. This boost is specifically designed to place a website on the very first page on a search engine for brief periods of time. The period of the boost is intentionally brief so as to avoid being discovered by a search engine as using “black hat” methods. If a website is found to be “spamming” or using “black hat SEO” techniques, they can be banned or blacklisted.
“Black hat SEO” techniques are somewhat “shady”. Many of the techniques are “hidden” and made to appear unobvious to an internet user. Websites who use “black hat SEO” techniques are typically not all that concerned about the “experience” their visitors are to have by visiting their site. The primary objective is to attain a high search engine ranking. “White hat” methods cater for the customer. “Black hat” techniques are all about achieving the top spot.
White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO
Techniques and practices of both “black hat” and “white hat” SEO tend to have several elements in common. The difference occurs in how these elements get used. The following takes a look at some of the elements both “black hat” and “white hat” methods make use of, comparing the differences in the way they are used.
- Black hat – stuffing or spamming (i.e.: too many keywords are used in order to be picked up quickly and easily by search engines. These do not accurately represent a website.)
- White hat – keywords and phrases are researched and accurately represents a website and its content. Researched keywords also accurately match what a target audience is currently searching for.
- Black hat – content is hidden (e.g.: white text containing keywords are hidden against a background of the same colour. Comment tags can also be used to hide keywords.)
- White hat – researched, quality content (i.e.: keywords are strongly relevant and are consistently used throughout a page.)
- Black hat – link farming (i.e.: links are exchanged with many other websites. This is a manipulative method to try and make a website seem more popular than it actually is.)
- White hat – inbound links (i.e.: links are not traded with many websites. Inbound links can be created when another links to a website’s content (e.g.: blog, post or article) providing additional and relevant information.)
Black hat – doorway passages (also known as bridge pages, entry pages, gateway pages, jump pages and portal pages). Keyword phrases are used to create an increase in website traffic levels. Doorway passages spam search engines with these specific keyword phrases.
White hat – headings make use of SEO friendly keywords and phrases.
“Black hat SEO” methods are appealing for the very reason that they do actually work. Rankings are thus generally attained as desired. Rankings are not, however, a long term achievement. Methods need to be constantly updated so as to try and avoid “getting caught out”. “White hat SEO” methods are far more practical in achieving sound business goals and the outcomes are not only more worthwhile, but also longer lasting.