When you’re working on growing your Google rankings, you may be tempted to opt for an SEO strategy that offers a shortcut to ranking well in SERP results.
A search engine algorithm follows some specific rules.
These rules hinder web developers from finding shortcuts that unfairly rank a site.
The rules also create a level playing ground for sites competing to rank in Google; thereby ensuring that any website can rank at the top of search results with enough time and effort.
The different approaches to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) have diverged into two techniques:
“White Hat SEO” and “Black hat SEO.”
White hat SEO techniques align with the guidelines set by Google for ensuring high-quality SEO. Black hat SEO, on the other hand, involves techniques that are designed on tricks and hacks.
These techniques yield short-term improvements to ranking results and often leave negative consequences on the SEO results in the long run.
In this guide,
We will consider what black hat and white hat SEO practices are and the ideal practice you should stick to for the best SEO result.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO refers to SEO practices that are used to increase a website or web page’s rank in search results through techniques that do not align with the terms of service of the search engines.
By manipulating search engine algorithms, the SERP rankings of websites may increase at first, but the long-term effect may affect the site’s SEO.
These SEO tactics are not regarded by Google and Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines.
It is advisable to avoid them at all costs. The funny thing about the black hat SEO techniques is that there is little evidence that the techniques are effective.
The techniques usually end up damaging the site’s rankings. Here are some of the black hat SEO tactics:
Keyword stuffing refers to the process of manipulating a website’s rankings by repeating the main keyword of the site unnaturally (the keyword is usually out of context).
It is easy to detect keyword stuffing because the keyword will not flow with the content, and the content will not make much sense when you read it aloud.
This strategy is an outdated one and will not work with the current Google and Bing algorithm.
It usually makes the site to be penalized.
Hidden text is the text that is colored with the web page’s background color to make the content invisible to the readers. This strategy is usually used to introduce relevant keywords to the webpage to ‘appease’ the search engines.
In some cases, the text has a font size of zero.
This deceptive strategy can make the search engines lower your ranking with it is detected by advanced search engine crawlers.
Manipulative links (also referred to as link schemes) are some of the most widely used black hat SEO tactics.
Mutual backlinking is the process of hiding links in different parts of a website and blog comments.
The links may also be hidden by reducing the font size to zero or by changing its color to match that of the background.
Since you can increase your rankings by adding links to your content, people pack links into their sites, even when the links are not useful to the content. This malicious strategy can get your site into trouble with Google and other search engines.
White Hat SEO
White hat SEO is the opposite of black hat SEO.
It refers to practices that improve a website’s or webpage’s search rankings on a search engine results page without tampering with the integrity of the website.
This form of SEO targets a human audience.
White hat SEO techniques align with the terms of service of the search engines. In other words, they adhere to the rules and also improve the website and brand in the long run.
Instead of achieving fast rankings in search results, white hat SEO is more interested in developing your relationship with your users.
Since white hat SEO helps your website visitor, it gives you better ranking results.
Highlighted below are some of the features of white hat SEO techniques; these features reveal why white hat SEO works:
White hat SEO puts the users first.
If your content is aimed at meeting the needs of your users rather than attaining quick search engine rankings, you’re implementing white hat SEO. Search engine crawlers are now advanced and they are now focused on ensuring that your content creates a positive user experience.
Although some strategies may get initially direct traffic to your page, your bounce rate will be high if your page lacks quality content.
This affects your rankings in search results, so it is advisable to focus on meeting the needs of users.
Long-term investment worth taking
Although some black hat SEO strategies can increase your rankings in search results, in the beginning, the result can be harmful to your website and brand.
Investing in content that offers value to your audience will portray you as an expert and also boost your credibility (both from the readers’ and search engines’ points of view).
This will go a long way in boosting your SERP ranking.
Quality prioritized over quality
White hat SEO places more emphasis on quality than quantity.
When you focus more on the quality of content that you create, your website’s SEO will improve over time. To engage your audience and keep them coming back to your site, you can continuously update your information with dates, useful and relevant sources, and updated content.
Effective white hat SEO is not a checklist that you can just complete and be through with, but a process.
So instead of stuffing your web pages with irrelevant keywords, links, and pictures just to increase your rankings, look for other ways to engage your audience by offering them relevant and valuable content.
Why Do People Use Black Hat SEO Tactics?
People use black hat SEO techniques because they believe they can fool the search engines.
Since algorithms have loopholes, black hat SEO is implemented to take advantage of these loopholes and make quick and easy money. Those that use black hat techniques are not interested in offering any value to users.
These people may think they are operating in a way that avoids the consequences.
Most of them do not even care about the consequences.
Risks of Black Hat SEO Techniques
Although the quick results that black hat techniques offer make them tempting, it can make Google ban your site or penalize it for using practices that do not comply with search engine rules.
Websites that plan to operate for a long time stay away from risks since they hurt a site’s SEO.
Black hat SEO tactics also yield short-term results.
White hat SEO, on the other hand, makes your site to be ranked by using ethical tactics, quality content, appropriate keywords, and smart marketing approaches that provide long-term results.
Here are some of the risks of using black hat SEO techniques:
Google updates its algorithm regularly to improve the results it offers users.
Most of these updates are meant to fill the loopholes that black hat techniques take advantage of.
One of the most popular algorithm updates was the 2012 “Penguin” update that targeted websites that were buying links or practicing the use of spammy links.
When the update was released, lots of website owners that were using deceptive SEO practices lost their rankings in Google.
This led to the loss of all the results they gained through those malicious practices.
Ever since this update was released, Google has released different updates to get rid of manipulative SEO techniques. Although these updates don’t ban websites from search results, the rankings of sites using black hat SEO will be badly affected.
Websites that use black hat SEO risk a manual action from Google.
The penalties are given by human reviewers and they involve penalizing a website for violating Google’s guidelines.
Unlike algorithm updates, these manual actions can prevent the affected websites from being found in search results. As a result, black hat SEO tactics have the opposite result of what those using them intend to achieve.
Why You Should Adhere to White Hat SEO Tactics
What hat SEO requires patience before the results are seen because it takes time.
This is why some web owners are tempted to look for shortcuts to hasten the SEO process.
When you consider the risks associated with black hat techniques, it’s not worth it.
Focus on implementing white hat SEO tactics because they can make you much more successful with time. With white hat tactics, you don’t need to bother about being penalized or losing your rankings as a result of algorithm updates.
As you proceed and go deeper in your digital marketing journey, you will come across a black hat vs. white hat SEO debate.
This debate is not worth your time because white hat SEO is the better approach; it is the SEO strategy that better improves its rankings in search results.
White hat SEO tactics yield long-term search rankings and also improve the quality of visitors that visits a website. Practices like creating high-quality content, increase your webpage’s speed, and optimizing user experience are white hat and they will positively impact your search rankings.
Black hat SEO tactics, on the other hand, have short-term benefits and can make a site to be penalized.
You will be tempted to find quick fixes or shortcuts, but for your business to be successful, you need to act with integrity as this yields the best results.
Elena is an SEO and Keyword Research professional who contributes to the blog section and manages the chat system at 1stpageKWs. She is passionate about helping clients rank higher and drive more traffic with effective SEO strategies. She also loves spending her precious time with her family.