Trick or Treat: Black Hat vs White Hat SEO

What You Don’t Know About SEO Can Hurt You!

Tomorrow is Halloween! What better time for a story about ghouls and goblins. Unfortunately the ghouls and goblins we are talking about are not scampering up to your front door at dusk; they are lurking on the internet waiting for their chance to hurt you. We are talking about Black Hat SEO. But don’t worry, there is an alternative that provides lasting results: White Hat SEO!

 

S5i Trick or Treat: Black Hat vs White Hat SEO Title Image

 

The difference between black hat SEO and White Hat SEO has many people confused, and that is not a good thing! In recent posts we explained How to Grow Your Business Online in 4 Steps and Content Marketing and Benefits for Small Brands. SEO is a key element of both strategies, but only if you do it right.

To describe the two common methods employed in SEO the terms “Black Hat SEO” and “White Hat SEO” are used. Because there is a belief that black hat SEO can have positive short-term effects it is very popular, and sometimes referred to as “Speed SEO.” The long term consequences of black hat SEO can be disastrous! On the other hand, white hat SEO takes a lot more effort, but has a lasting positive effect without compromising your website. Here is how you can tell the difference between them.

Black Hat vs White Hat SEO

The Trick: Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO basically refers to any search engine optimization practice or strategy that do not comply with Google recommendations and standards. You may get away with it for a while, and even briefly benefit from better search rankings. But be warned! Google will find out eventually, and the penalties can be severe. Black Hat SEO strategies can include any of the following in various combinations.

Keyword Stuffing

Even though Google will penalize keyword-stuffed content, it is still a common practice to insert as as many keywords as possible into pages and articles. Fer example: “Best electrical contractors in Seattle help help with cheapest electrical contracting for Seattle residents who who need electrical contractors to fix electrical problems cheap.” Feeling stuffed? Reevaluate your approach and make it organic, something your users actually want to read.

Invisible Text

Here the idea is to trick spiders crawling for information to crawl keyword-stuffed text on sites (usually by writing white text on white pages) that is hidden to users that read the page or post. Another practice that uses common practice tags for Black Hat purposes is <noscript>. Be careful, don’t trick the spider!

Doorway Pages

Creating a page the end user will never see to again attract and trick spiders. Cloaking as a form of the doorway technique. Don’t get caught in the web of bad practices, because this is tricking search engines into indexing something of perceived value when in reality it is spam.

Title Tags

Stuffing the page title tags with keywords like: “Best Best Electricians Seattle, Seattle Electricians in Seattle Washington” is a bad practice. The title tag is one of the most important aspects of on-page optimization and should provide value and a description of what the page is about, not just keywords to rank. So don’t fluff up your titles!

Link Farms

Does it sound like a neat idea to list your website on another site that list thousands of websites for “link love?” NO. It doesn’t. Because it is Black Hat, it provides no real value in the eyes of Google, and you run the risk of getting banned. The same applies to content spinning and submitting the spun content to multiple sites. Don’t be that site!

Fake Reviews

Do not buy or create your own fake reviews. Don’t keyword-stuff them either. If you do your job well, train your customer service department right and have a great product, good reviews will come in due time.

Duplicate Sites

What may have worked back in the “old” days doesn’t work anymore without running the risk of getting penalized. Duplicate site and content will quickly be found by search engines and removed from their index. If it is different enough to pass that and is manually found and reported, you run the risk of getting banned again.

black hat seo strategies

Cloaking

Here the idea is to actually get ranked and indexed for certain content but when the user clicks the search engine result he is presented with something entirely different. For example, a user searches for “pink hair”  and clicks on a search engine result that matches the query. When she lands on the page she sees it is about gambling. This is cloaking the true content from search engines and deceitful. Nobody likes a trickster, least of all “The Google!”

Paid Links

If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Google states that buying or selling links that pass PageRank is a violation of its Webmaster Guidelines. Therefore it is clearly Black Hat SEO, and getting caught could get you penalized. Better avoid a black eye from Google.

Unrelated Keywords

While it is tempting to piggyback on highly-searched brand name terms or your competitors names or products, don’t. Best case scenario here: Bad user experience. Stick to white hat SEO and relevant keywords instead; they will work just fine.

Spam Blogs

Using software that creates garbled text with keyword phrases in an attempt to get users to click on an ad. It provides no value to the reader and while you may get a few clicks, if you get caught the site will be banned.

Blog or Comment Spam

Automatically adding comments with garbled text as comments on blogs to increase your number of inbound links is spam. Nobody wants to get excited about a comment just to read: |&F$$ehgt^8hdTH$ jecfmjuwt jweojr

Pingback Spam

Using software to regularly ping a variety of servers to alert them of “new” content. By getting pinged several times a minute the servers are under the impression that the content is new and fresh when it really isn’t.

Social Network Spamming

Have you ever received a message like this: “OMG! Check out the crazy pictures of your friends on xyz.com. You won’t believe what they did!” That is an example of black hat spamming. The idea is to target a lot of people and groups and have them click on the links. Be careful, often these sites also phish for your personal information.

In other words, Black Hat SEO is everything that seems fishy, spammy, or makes you think in any way if it is worth the risk. We have a better idea! Let’s explore some White Hat SEO alternatives next.

black hat white hat seo tactics

The Treat: White Hat SEO

In essence White Hat SEO is everything that follows the rules and guidelines set by search engines, creates unique, fresh, and valuable content for readers, lasts a long time, isn’t deceptive, and includes regular research, re-writes, optimization and updates to websites while staying relevant to your product or niche. White Hat SEO provides lasting value and organic reach that just can’t be matched by other strategies.

White Hat SEO relies on the following practices and strategies that need to be implemented consistently throughout your site.

Create Useful, Unique Content

This relates to everything from website content to blog posts. White Hat SEO does not allow scraping or spinning content from elsewhere. Google loves fresh, new, and valuable content, and so do your readers (what a concept!) So give it to them by by creating informative content that people want to read. If you add links make sure they are relevant.

Title, Meta and H1 Tags

Again, relevancy is key in White Hat SEO. What do you want a searching person to see on your site? Don’t stuff it with keywords, instead create a unique and informative description that tells the searcher what your site is about. Keep titlke tags under 65 characters (important keywords at the beginning) and meta tags under 150 characters. Make sure to only have one H1 tag and utilize the other header tags.

Site Speed

Site speed is another aspect of White Hat SEO. A good site speed is vital for success. Ideally you want to be above a score of 85/100. Google lets you test your site speed for free, and alerts you to problems that cause a decrease in speed for desktop and mobile view.

[ut_button color=”yellow” target=”_blank” link=”https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/” size=”medium” ]Test Your Site Speed[/ut_button]

Use No-Follow for Press Releases

Most digital press release sites do this automatically but make sure the links are no-follow.

URLS

Use descriptive keywords in tour URLs that are relevant to your page content.

Robot TXT.

White Hat SEO includes adding this to your website to ensure spiders crawl and follow what you want them to.

Google Authorship + Google Publisher

Make sure to set these up as Google is becoming stricter on quality, original content. Connect your content to your Google+ profile and add it in the contributor section. This shows Google who wrote it, who wrote it first, and helps you get a boost in your search engine ranking. Isn’t that what White Hat SEO is all about?

Mobile Web Development + Responsive Web Design

With the rise of mobile use and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets it is imperative to have to have a responsive, mobile-friendly site. With that knowledge keep in mind what Google said: “Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design, namely serving the same HTML for all devices.” Google is a big advocate of having pages that load fast and without a hitch on ANY platform. Your white hat SEO strategy needs to include making sure that your website is up to that standard.

Social Signals

Part of your white hat SEO strategy should include establishing yourself as an influencer in your field or industry. Build networks and contribute valuable information people will search for and value. Stay relevant and current.

white hat seo services

Guest Blogging

We know, it’s a hot topic. But let’s be honest here. If you are an expert in your industry, if people want to hear from you and you get invited or reach out to a site to give valuable and fresh information on a topic, then it’s great. It’s about content, about quality, about unique insights and about not spamming the readers. Bonus – You can earn links back to your website.

Google Webmaster Tools + Sitemaps

Google Webmaster Tools could be called your best friend if you want to shine for white hat SEO. Simply add your website, upload the code and Google Webmaster Tools will help you identify potential problems and explain to you what you can (and should) do to rectify the issues discovered. For example, Google Webmaster Tools will not only notify you of any malware on your site, it also identifies links to your site, crawling issues, 404 errors and lets you remove links from your site. In addition, Sitemaps help you understand the structure of the site and Google’s coverage.

User Experience

The main goal of white hat SEO is to bring the user to a site that is relevant and helpful to them by ranking high. You want the end user to buy or download or read what is on your site. If you can implement great content that caters to what search engine users are looking for a have a well-designed, responsive website, then users will love you, they will come back, they will share and interact, and Google will notice. And that is what white hat SEO is all about.

Getting Started with White Hat SEO

White hat SEO is not overly complicated, and if you are already maintaining your own website or blog you can start implementing white hat SEO right away. We recommend you start with free tools such as Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to identify problems, then fix the low hanging fruit first. You may need the help of a webmaster or web developer to help you with some of the trickier parts. Content creation and curation is an important part to white hat SEO, and for most folks that is the hard part. Unless you are a budding author yourself we recommend that you consider working with a professional copywriter as part of your white hat SEO efforts.

Of course, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble and have our team perform white hat SEO on your website. Our content strategists and copywriters can help you with creating relevant, engaging, and keyword-optimized content. After that our SEO team can implement, maintain, and monitor an organic white hat SEO strategy for you. Why not get started by requesting your free white hat SEO estimate?

And if you are still not sure how to get started with white hat SEO don’t worry! Simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best way for your business to get the white hat SEO benefits you need. That is one of our specialties, after all!

Do you have anything to add to our White Hat Seo / Black Hat SEO comparison? Feel free to add your comments below so our audience can share in the fun, and grab our feed  so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our White Hat Seo / Black Hat SEO comparison with your audience!

By Gregor Schmidt
Co-Founder / Creative Technologist
@gregorspeaks

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