How is White Hat SEO Different from Black Hat SEO?
In the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there’s plenty of a grey area and misconceptions about what counts as legitimate SEO techniques and those proven to work overtime if you follow the rules. In this courageous new world of content and post, Google algorithm changes such as Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird, white hat SEO is the only way to go if you want your site to get ahead and become a valuable part of the internet. Carrying out white hat practices also means that the search giants will like your site too and position it accordingly in the SERPs.
In simple terms, it’s using various techniques that ensure that your site performs well in the SERPs without resorting to what essentially many people now refer to as cheating. These nefarious tactics are known as black hat SEO and include numerous spamming techniques, keyword stuffing, and more. On the other hand, white hat uses organic methods and demands quality in a site to ensure it performs well for search.
White Hat SEO & Black Hat SEO?
Just like cowboys wearing white hats and black hats to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys, white hat SEO and black hat SEO signify good and bad SEO practices:
- White hat SEO techniques are heroes — tactics that work within search engines’ terms of service to enhance a site’s search engine results page (SERP) rankings.
- Black hat SEO techniques are villains — tactics may get a site higher SERP rankings but are unethical and violate search engine guidelines.
They understand what’s what is essential to maintain the integrity of your website, online rankings, and visibility when it comes to SEO best practices.
Here are some of the top White Hat SEO tactics you can use to play by the rules to increase your website’s presence:
- Quality content
- Content-relevant keywords
- Keyword-rich page titles and metadata
- Lean code/well-structured markup language
- Authoritative inbound links
- Simple website navigation
- Fast page loading times
White Hat SEO Techniques
- Quality content written for the reader’s benefit, not the search engine crawler, is the most crucial element of modern-day SEO. It is the best way to be rewarded by search engines and rank your site or blog. Always remember that quality content is king!
- Content-relevant keywords based on disciplined research around page content are mandatory. Also, pay attention to keyword usage. Stick to one main keyword and 2 or 3 secondary/supporting keywords.
- Keyword-rich page titles and metadata are also mandatory. It’s simple to overlook or underestimate these areas, but optimization is low-hanging fruit for most sites.
- Lean code and semantically structured markup language, including the utility of keyword-rich heading elements on your pages, aid search engines in finding what they’re looking for when crawling your site.
- Authoritative inbound links gained organically versus paid links have become essential elements in your SEO efforts. Achieving authoritative inbound links takes time and dedication, but the tremendous impact on how you rank in SERPs and increased overall site traffic make it well worth the effort.
- Simple website navigation usually boosts where your site places in organic search rankings. It also assists visitors to find what they need without getting frustrated, which is a win for potential conversions.
- Fast page loading times are necessary because, like simple navigation or mobile optimization, responsive sites don’t frustrate visitors or encourage bounce. From an SEO standpoint, site speed is a search engine ranking signal. Sites that are slow in responding to visitant requests for whatever reason (large images, image carousels, etc.) generally rank lower in SERPs because the user experience is jeopardized. Be watchful of functionality and features and how they impact load times.
Being well-known with white hat SEO isn’t enough to keep you from inadvertently crossing into an SEO grey area or, worse, do something that violates search engine guidelines — black hat SEO territory.
Here are some of the top Black Hat SEO tactics to bypass when boosting your website’s visibility:
- Keyword Stuffing
- Meta Keyword Stuffing
- Link Farming
- Cloaking Your Content
- Publishing Bad Content
Black Hat SEO Techniques
- Keyword stuffing — hidden content masked with code use but stuffed with keyword jargon, so it’s only visible to the search engine crawler — may have worked in the past, but search algorithms have gotten smarter. Site owners engaging in this “number one no-no” will be subject to a hefty fine, and search engine authorities may block the site.
- Meta keyword stuffing — unnaturally putting keywords in web page Meta tags, page titles, or backlink anchor text — is easy enough for a trained monkey to conduct but does not positively impact your SEO. It can turn away search engine crawlers.
- Link farming is the method of gathering a whole slew of unrelated website links that are typically hidden from actual site visitors. Being listed on such a page won’t get you traffic — in fact, it probably puts you at risk of having your site flagged.
- Content cloaking is most of like electronic bait and switch. Search engine spiders are shown content that doesn’t appear in the user’s browser. This dual path helps sites rank for irrelevant content and provides unwitting users with results other than expected. A basic example would be supplying HTML to search engines while showing images or Flash files to human users — a classic trick of spammers.
- Publishing lousy content provides no value to visitors and reflects poorly on you. Scraping or copying content from other sites was once nearly undetectable by search engines, making it a bit of a rankings boon. Now, Google and other search engines have algorithms in place that not only recognize duplicate content but instantly down-rank sites for duplication or other low-quality content.
Wearing the White Hat
SEO can help or hinder your site’s success, depending on the hat you choose to wear. White hat SEO is a powerhouse that delivers relevant content, clicks, higher visibility, conversion opportunities, and other business builders. On the other hand, Black hat SEO is fraught with peril — potential fines, site shutdowns, bounces, a dissatisfied user experience, and a loss of conversion opportunities. Be sure you’re trained about which tactics are white and black, so you choose the right ones.