Search engine optimization, SEO for short, is one of the 21st century’s most exciting intersections between business and technology. SEO determines which websites appear on the first page of Google’s search results, something that can make or break a business. There are two primary types of SEO: white hat and black hat. White hat SEO will result in long-term success and a steady stream of visitors to your website. Black hat SEO might produce excellent results briefly but will result in your website being penalized or even banned. Here’s what you need to know to recognize the differences between white hat and black hat SEO.
The algorithms Google uses to determine page rank are proprietary, but they offer helpful guidelines for webmasters looking to optimize their webpages. The main difference between white hat and black hat SEO is that white hat SEO follows these guidelines. Black hat SEO doesn’t. Most of it boils down to whether the strategies you’re using are meant to manipulate or help.
If you work in digital marketing, implementing Google’s recommendations for your customers is essential. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or energy to become an SEO expert. That’s where white label SEO programs come in. For a fee, you can purchase SEO services supplied by a company full of SEO professionals, repackage them under your brand’s name, and sell them to your clients.
Link building is a foundational aspect of SEO. Backlinks, which are links from other websites pointing toward your page, are used by Google and other search engines as indicators that your page contains high-quality, relevant information. The more backlinks you have, the more likely it is that you will appear toward the top of the search results page. Building those links can be complicated.
With white hat SEO, your link building focus should be on producing content that people want to reference and using keywords so they have an easier time finding it. The idea behind backlinking is that it will happen organically. People will recognize the best content for what it is, and it will float to the top of the results page.
Link building is time-consuming, and the Internet is a big place. That’s what tempts many people into trying black hat SEO practices like link farming and blog comment spamming. With these practices, you’re paying to skip the quality and relevance checks inherent in organic, white hat link building. While that may work in the short term, search engines are on the lookout for SEO strategies they deem unethical, and they will penalize you.
Keywords are one of the most complicated parts of SEO. Using the right words in the right places can make the difference between your website being found and languishing in obscurity. In white hat SEO, keyword research, analysis, and placement according to current best practices are vital parts of the process. It takes time, but it lets the search engine know what your website is about and that it’s well-organized.
If someone is using black hat SEO methods, they may employ a strategy known as keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing entails precisely what you would expect. Keywords are stuffed throughout web page content, links, and tags so repetitively that it’s probably annoying for the people reading it. Search engine algorithms are advanced, but they don’t yet have a human sense of aesthetics. They see keyword stuffing and initially think it means that the website is extremely relevant to that keyword, which boosts its ranking.
Audience Versus Engine
The idea behind search engine algorithms is that someday, they will examine a webpage and evaluate it the way a human being would. They’re not quite there yet. They rely on rough approximations to attempt to analyze a webpage like a person would, including backlinks and keywords, as mentioned above.
In general, white hat SEO focuses on making web pages accessible and relevant to human users. That means producing well-organized content that web page visitors will care about. Search engine algorithms might not be capable of imitating a human analyst quite yet, but they’re very close. A webpage that your visitors like will also be one that the algorithm approves of.
Black hat SEO methods focus on tricking the search engine algorithms into believing a webpage is more relevant and of higher quality than it actually is. Human usability is often left by the wayside, resulting in web pages that are challenging to navigate and content that isn’t compellingly written or helpful.
Short or Long-Term Results
The results achieved by white hat and black hat SEO are the final difference between the two that we’re going to cover. White hat SEO tends to produce sound, stable results that provide you with a steady stream of web page visitors over a long period. Black hat SEO might result in a brief, meteoric spike in your web page activity and search engine ranking, but it won’t last. Search engines will notice that you aren’t following their guidelines, and you will be penalized. It’s less work and more effective to do things right the first time.