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What Is Black Hat SEO and White Hat Seo?

In content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) is a well-known process for encouraging web page visitors and building site popularity. You may have heard of different types of SEO, including black hat and white hat. These SEO practices lead to different results and companies may take either route to encourage success.

With this guide, you’ll learn more about the different types of SEO and which one your business should use to reach your goals.

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What Is Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is an approach meant to increase page ranks without aligning with Google’s guidelines. Individuals and businesses that use black hat SEO typically manipulate the system for higher rankings rather than focusing on their audiences. Google often references a series of practices websites should not use to improve rankings, and these are generally considered black hat SEO.

If a deceptive strategy makes Google believe site content provides value to users, it falls under black hat SEO. This system is more about exploiting the algorithm and getting quick wins. Rather than taking time to build a lasting and effective strategy, black hat SEO users want to see immediate results. 

Here are some examples of the black hat practices that Google states will lead to consequences:

  • Hidden text or links
  • Keyword stuffing with irrelevant keywords
  • Pages with minimal or no original content
  • Participation in link schemes

What Is White Hat SEO?

White hat SEO abides by Google’s guidelines, making it the direct opposite of black hat SEO. In addition to following the rules, this method takes a human-centered approach. While black hat SEO is more about manipulating the algorithm, white hat SEO wants to improve the user experience on a site and build a genuine audience.

Some white hat processes might include improving page loading time and targeting user intent on landing pages. It may also involve improving site design and navigation to keep users on the site longer. All of these tactics are Google-approved, and they can help businesses build a consumer base for the long term.

Since white hat SEO strives to build authority and reflect users’ needs, it takes time. If you’re looking to build a white hat SEO strategy, you should always prioritize users, not the search engine. It’s also essential to avoid any tricks and focus on making your website unique, informative and interesting. 

Using all of these methods can help you build an effective white hat SEO strategy.

P.S. Need some landing page design inspiration? Check out this article!

The Lesser-Known Gray Hat SEO

In the in-between zone, there’s something called gray hat SEO. As the name suggests, this strategy involves tactics that fall somewhere in between white hat and black hat. These practices may be considered manipulative, but they’re not a strategy Google has mentioned as one to avoid.

An example of gray hat SEO might include creating microsites. These small sites are not designed to represent your business as a whole but a small component of what you do. This strategy aims to lead people to your main site. However, it may lead to repeat content and similar keyword targets.

The Risks of Black Hat or Gray Hat SEO

Since black hat and gray hat SEO involving sneaky tactics, they come with risks for your website. There are two main consequences your site may face from Google if you use manipulative strategies to improve rankings.

The first risk to consider is algorithm updates. Google gets smarter every year thanks to several updates brought to the algorithm. While these updates strive to improve user experience, they also target those manipulative SEO strategies. If you’re using a tactic that now ranks poorly under an algorithm update, you’ll likely see a stark drop in your page rankings. A page that showed up on page one of the SERPs may now be on page 23. 

The algorithm never bans site owners or shuts down sites, but it will make it a lot harder to make your pages visible to users. If you’re trying to grow your business, these poor rankings will stand in your way. This risk may be particularly relevant to gray hat tactics. While a strategy may not be recognized by Google now, it might be later.

In some cases, black hat SEO can lead to manual penalties from Google. In these instances, human reviewers will sift through sites and find pages that violate guidelines. Unlike algorithm updates, these manual penalties can prevent your site from showing up on the results pages altogether. 

While a quick strategy may have been an attempt at high traffic and site popularity, these tactics can ultimately lead to the exact opposite effect.

SEO Takeaways

When handling your SEO strategy, it’s important to balance the risks and expenses with the rewards. Black hat SEO doesn’t require a time or money expense like white hat SEO, but the risks are high, leading to minimal rewards. It’s not a long-term solution for improving your SEO metrics.

When you face losing your page rankings completely with black hat tactics, white hat SEO is the more reliable approach. While it may take time, these approved and effective SEO strategies are worthwhile for your company’s growth and success. 

Taking the time to build a thorough SEO approach that abides by Google’s guidelines will offer rewards for your company in the long run. Think about white hat SEO as a long-term investment. The more time and energy you put into your strategy, the higher payoff you get.

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