Whitehat vs Blackhat SEO: What’s the difference?

You may have heard of black hat SEO, but perhaps not so much of its white hat counterpart. So, what’s the difference? Although both will drive results, only one will get you penalised by search engines and set you back in terms of traffic and rankings – even though they may provide short-term results. Search engine optimisation (or SEO) is a state of constant change, with SEO experts constantly evolving their methods to stay ahead of new algorithms (such as Google’s upcoming FRED update). Knowing the difference between the two schools of SEO can prevent you from seeing your SEO efforts fail or even backfire.

White hat SEO

In order to optimise human user’s search experiences, search engines must regularly update their algorithms to provide users with legitimate, trustworthy and relevant results. While black hat SEO is increasingly creative in its search for an easy way to get around optimising a website legitimately, white hat SEO is dedicated to using ethical SEO techniques that require more time and effort but are sure to pay dividends in the long run.

White hat SEO techniques are made up various methods designed to garner organic traffic. Some of these techniques are:

  • Securing high-quality backlinks: These are links back to your site from other relevant websites and are usually acquired on merit or agreed as part of a content exchange (such as blogger outreach) or promotion deal (such as sponsorship with influencers).
  • Creating original, quality content: Content is king. Create readable, engaging and informative content on your site complete with images and videos.
  • Use of keywords analysis: Find out what your audience searches for and wants to know about and build your site around providing information that meets these needs.
  • Site organisation: The use of header tags, titles etc to make it easy for search engine bots to crawl your site.

Black hat SEO

The main objective of black hat SEO techniques is to directly appeal to the search engine bots rather than real human users. It is effectively gaming the system in order to generate quick results. However, if your site is found to have utilised black hat SEO techniques then you could be penalised, sometimes resulting in sites being completely de-indexed.

Black hat techniques are predominantly used for websites that have a quick-return business model, such as subscription or retail sites. These techniques can include:

  • Using scraped or spun content: That means copying and pasting or rewriting content from other sites.
  • Automation: Black hat SEO uses automated software to search the internet for sites to automatically post backlinks to your site to, helping to build potentially thousands of low-quality backlinks per campaign.
  • Other underhand tactics: This might include attempting to sabotage a competitor via a negative campaign which utilises their own keywords to undermine that business or posting content copied from their own website to lower their ranking. This is one more reason why website owners need to update their copy regularly.

When navigating the world of SEO, it’s important to know the difference, risks and rewards of each school. Black hat SEO may work in the short term for some but is likely to leave you with bigger problems if you get blacklisted by Google or if your readership abandons you because of your unengaging content. White hat SEO, on the other hand, is without a doubt the safest and most future-proof choice.

If you have any questions about SEO, get in touch today and one of our experts will be more than happy to help.

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