White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO: What’s the Difference?
Date: November 29, 2022
In the SEO community, there is often chatter about “white hat” and “black hat” SEO, but what does this actually mean? Why are people wearing hats? (Hint: It has nothing to do with actual hats). In fact, the modifiers “black hat” and “white hat” allude to unethical and ethical means of producing SEO results, respectively. With that said, let’s dive into what exactly black and white hat SEO are and the differences between the two.
What is White Hat SEO?
White hat SEO refers to utilizing ethical optimization practices. What does this mean? Well, it involves optimizing your website to not just satisfy what search engines are looking for in terms of keywords but also optimizing to improve overall user experience. Essentially, white hat SEO tactics follow the “rules” – such as Google’s Search Essentials (formerly known as Google’s Webmaster Guide), which details what needs to be done to your website in order to show up in Google search results.
A few common white hat SEO tactics include:
- Primarily focus on satisfying the user, not the search engine
- Creating relevant, quality, and unique content
- Building relevant backlinks
In all, white hat SEO tactics are what you should be focusing on because, when you follow the rules of the search engine you are trying to rank higher on, you’ll see positive results.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is the opposite of white hat and is often referred to as unethical SEO. This type of strategy often goes against Google’s guidelines or Search Essentials, and can be portrayed as spammy to users thus negatively impacting user experience. This is because the website’s content is typically irrelevant, unoriginal, and written for search engines and not humans.
A few common black hat SEO tactics include:
- Keyword stuffing
- Hidden text and pages
- Building irrelevant backlinks
- Creating content strictly written for search engines that adds no value
While black hat tactics can be used to gain quick wins, the risks far outweigh the benefits. For that reason, at 9Sail we always recommend following search engine guidelines and practicing white hat tactics should you decide to start optimizing your website on your own.
Why It’s Important to Understand the Difference
When working on optimizing your own website, it’s incredibly important to recognize the difference between white hat and black hat SEO. Utilizing black hat tactics can lead to your website being penalized by Google, which will not just impact the rankings of your website but also your lead flow because your website will be much harder to find and may not even be able to show up in search results depending on the severity of the penalty.
For those reasons, it is incredibly important to always consult an SEO professional to ensure your website doesn’t face the repercussions of utilizing black hat tactics.
9Sail Can Make Sure Your SEO Efforts Are Done Correctly
At 9Sail, our digital strategists follow Google’s guidelines when creating long-term strategies for our clients. This allows our clients to provide their clients and prospects with informative and relevant content, which in turn helps their rankings and lead flow increase. If you are ready to invest in SEO to improve your lead generation, contact us today.