Black Hat Vs White Hat (& Grey Hat) SEO
Within the SEO communities, you will often hear the terms White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO. You will also hear the term Grey Hat as well.
- White Hat SEO refers to SEO techniques (or SEO philosophy) that follow the guidelines set by Google and other search engines. There are many guidelines that Google publishes, to keep website owners on the right track. Google does this so they can limit spam and anything that produces a negative user experience.
- Black Hat SEO techniques or philosophies, on the other hand, involve techniques that are against Google’s guidelines. Black hat techniques are SEO tactics that attempt to an manipulate your search engine rankings.
- Grey Hat SEO techniques are ones that are right in the middle between black and white. This is where some white hat SEO’s would debate on whether something is black or white; thus they may deem something grey hat – it’s a grey area.
What is White Hat SEO?
Whitehat SEO is the type of SEO that Google likes. The school of thought on white hat SEO is, if you follow Google’s guidelines and advice, you secure your website’s future traffic and rankings.
Google changes their algorithm very consistently, to ensure they deliver the best results to the public. This evolving algorithm means it is tough to trick or manipulate Google’s algorithm for any extended period. Unless you are a very advanced SEO, its is nearly impossible to find any loopholes in the search engine algorithm in the long run.
Even so, any advanced SEO would be skating on thin ice. With that thought in mind, white hat SEO techniques are usually viewed as the safest plan of action. This risk is especially scary if you can’t afford to make any major mistakes like that. A Google penalty or deindex could potentially ruin your business.
The white hat SEO philosophy takes a long-term view of your sales strategy, whereas black hat techniques look for shortcuts that may lead to short-term success.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO techniques are essentially shortcuts that attempt to achieve higher rankings. I say “attempt” because black hat SEO is a risky proposition, and it doesn’t always work. It rarely, if ever, works in the long-run.
Black hat SEO techniques, historically have only had some short-term success. For the most part, black hat techniques have been addressed by Google in their algorithms.
The downside to black hat SEO is that your website can get De-indexed, meaning you don’t show up anywhere on google. You can also get penalties, which would cause your site to drop in rankings and lose traffic.
Both of these situations can be detrimental to a business’s long-term success.
What is Grey Hat SEO?
Gray hat SEO techniques are right in the middle of black and white hat methods. Sometimes there is a fine line between white hat and black hat SEO techniques. In this case, it would fall in the grey hat SEO.
In my opinion, you should not invest in black hat SEO techniques, as they are typically only short-lived. There are likely some methods that can manipulate your rankings higher and faster than white hat methods. However, as soon as Google catches on, you would be sorry because your website rankings and traffic would suffer.
Even if there is a new grey or black hat technique that seems to word very well, if the use of those techniques gets widespread enough, Google will likely patch those “loopholes.” There is a chance Google will address new techniques like these it in their future algorithm updates. In which case, you would be sorry you implemented those methods if your traffic suffers down the road.
Also, it is possible to tarnish your domain name with Google. It can be hard to get your old rankings back, even after you reversed the black hat techniques. This is especially the case with brands that are smaller, as Google can be more forgiving for very large corporate brands. So it is walking on thin ice when you use black hat SEO and even grey hat techniques.
A Word Of Caution On Black Hat SEO (And Grey Hat)
Caution about hiring a black hat SEO company
Black hat SEO tactics may cause you to achieve higher rankings in the short term, quicker than common white hat techniques. However, it is extremely risky. You play with fire when trying to manipulate your rankings. It is not a good strategy for the long term.
For these reasons, many SEO professionals and companies will try to manipulate their client’s rankings. It’s a catch 22. As a client, they want the SEO company to push them to the top of Google as quickly as possible. Many SEO companies want the same thing; they want to please their clients, so they don’t lose any business.
However, I have seen time and time again the mistakes that some SEO companies make. They try to please their clients in the short run. Sure, sometimes it does get some quick results and makes the customer happy. But, then all of a sudden the rankings and traffic drop lower than it was before hiring an SEO company! And it’s often permanent. Some SEO companies have put companies out of business with black hat techniques.
If you are a big, mainstream company like Sears or Macy’s for example, you can typically bounce back. However, Google isn’t so kind with smaller sized businesses. The trust is much more challenging, if not impossible to win back.
It is a risky proposition indeed.
Here is what you need instead:
- Client: What you need is a change in perspective on what SEO is and the timeline that you need to implement an SEO strategy. An SEO strategy is a continual process that never ends. However, that continual process should offer you a continually high ROI (except the beginning of an SEO campaign).
- SEO Company: You need an SEO company that understands this and values the long-term value they offer to clients, rather than a short-term mindset. It is the same reason why public corporations that try to please the stockholders often take a short-term perspective, and thus do not have long-term success.
A Word Of Caution On White Hat SEO
White hat SEO techniques should not get you penalized because it is in alignment with Google’s guidelines. With that said, some white hat techniques can later turn into black hat techniques according to Google. The transformation of white hat techniques to grey hat or black hat usually happens if people overuse or abuse a white hat method of SEO.
For these reasons, it is imperative to stay up to date on the latest SEO news, trends and best practices. Or even better, you should hire an SEO consultant or company who lives, eats and breathes SEO.
It can be time-consuming reading SEO blogs several hours a day, let alone run your business. Often it makes sense to hire a professional that is dedicated to the practice of SEO since it is such a diverse and rapidly changing field.
Not only does it take reading SEO books and blogs to stay up-to-date, but also takes a lot of practice to find out what works and what doesn’t work.
Contact your neighborhood SEO professionals right here in Roseville, CA. We will give you the correct advice and can take your SEO campaign and website to a whole other level. We live, eat and breath SEO. This is our passion, and we are here to help!