SEO is a huge part of any successful business’s marketing campaign. Whether you’re trying to make it big in the world or just looking for more eyes on your blog, proper SEO techniques will help you get there.
In the world of SEO, there are three main types of techniques: white hat, black hat, and grey hat. If you’re looking to improve your website’s search engine ranking, it’s important to understand the difference between white hat, black hat, and grey hat SEO techniques.
Firstly, let us clarify what the meaning is of “Black Hat SEO”, “Grey Hat SEO” and “White Hat SEO”.
Read our other blogs about SEO like What is SEO & How it works? Off-Page SEO, and On-Page SEO.
Black Hat SEO
This refers to techniques that are within the Google guidelines however they exploit loopholes in their system. Black hats also work on ranking quickly – one technique could be buying cheap links. White Hats will never break the Google guidelines and will play by the rules – their aim is to rank their website naturally over time.
Black hat SEO isn’t always technically illegal but it does involve bending or breaking the rules. You might have heard that some people think Google isn’t ethical because of its rules about SEO. These critics view black hat tactics as shortcuts to success, even though they’re really just short-term gains for companies that are selling sites.
Let’s say you own a website selling replica designer handbags. You want to rank high in Google, so you hire someone who knows how to break the rules for SEO purposes. This person contacts thousands of other replica websites and pays them each a small fee if they’ll link back to your site using keywords like “replica handbag” or “knockoff purse.”
The more links you have pointing back at your site, the higher your site is likely to rank. But this type of link building is risky and can get your site penalized by Google if they catch on. In fact, many black hat SEO techniques are considered spammy and can result in your site being removed from search engine results pages altogether.
There are different types of black hat SEO that you should avoid using:
This is where one website copies all the content from another site or blog’s RSS feed. When users land on the copied content their click-throughs and sales go to the person stealing others’ hard work.
Spamdexing is the practice of spamming search engines. Spamdexing is also known as “Blackhat SEO”. This involves repeated and automated Visits to a website, using many different identities (bots) and different IP addresses over short periods of time. The idea behind this is that the increased traffic will move up the rankings on Google or another site.
Websites like to link with other websites that are related in some way such as subject matter, quality, etc. If you’re linking out to all sorts of low-quality sites then your link profile will be filled with those low-quality links which can harm your high-quality ones. Search engines see these types of links with suspicion so it’s worth being clean with your link profile if you want to rank higher.
Cloaking is a technique where different content is served to the search engine spider than to users. This can be done in many ways but generally cloakers will show one page of text and images to the spider and an entirely different page to regular users. This is often used to show search engines irrelevant or duplicate content, which can get your site penalized.
Doorway pages are pages that have been created with the sole purpose of ranking high in the search engine results pages (SERPS). They are usually very thin on content (often just a few sentences) and are full of keywords that have been stuffed in for the sole purpose of manipulating the search engine rankings.
This is the act of building links to your website artificially in an attempt to improve search engine rankings.
This involves getting an account on free or paid forums and posting links within the forum itself or getting signatures set up to redirect to a URL of choice. This is very quick but it can get you banned quickly too! It can also be caught by search engines fairly easily so there is little point in doing it.
Twitter spamming is very similar to forum spamming in that you’re posting links to a website but instead of doing it on a forum, you’re doing it on Twitter. This can be done by creating fake accounts and following people or even just Tweeting the link to your website over and over again.
Banner advertisements are a very cheap way of getting traffic to your website. It requires little effort from you and can be set up in minutes by anyone with basic IT skills, however, people often forget that the quality of the banner ads is also important.
There’s no point in having a gorgeous-looking slider ad that simply states “Click Here!” because it will do nothing for your rankings or overall visitor experience, so make sure you put some time into creating attractive advertising!
The only problem with banner ads is that sometimes Google thinks they’re spam and flags them as such. This means you won’t get any clicks at all if this happens so it’s always best to check!
Grey Hat SEO
This sits in the middle ground of Black Hat and White Hat SEO. Grey Hats use some Black Hat techniques but also some White Hat techniques. They are not as risky as Black Hats as they still work within the boundaries of Google’s guidelines, but they may be pushing these boundaries a little bit.
This type of SEO is often used by small businesses that are willing to take a little bit of risk in order to see bigger returns.
For example, let’s go back to our replica handbag website. They want to rank high in Google, but they don’t want to risk breaking the rules. So they hire someone who is an expert at grey hat SEO to run their campaign.
The best way to do this kind of work is to backlink your site by doing influencer marketing. You can use tools like BuzzSumo or Ahrefs (they offer a free trial) to find power users within your niche on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites.
Once you’ve identified these power users, you can contact them and send them some sort of awesome freebie that will lead to increased sales if they share it with their followers online. For example, if our replica handbag site also sells high-end sunglasses, they could send out designer shades for people on social media to try on.
The one stipulation they make is that if you want to keep the glasses, you have shared a picture of yourself wearing them with your friends and followers on social media.
The business then hires an SEO firm that specializes in grey hat tactics to help amplify their influencer marketing campaign by identifying people within certain niches who are most likely to share what they’ve sent out online.
This type of marketing runs the risk of getting your site penalized by Google, but it’s also more scalable than black hat techniques which only work so long as you’re willing to pay for each new set of links pointing back at your site.
With white hat SEO, you’ll typically create content around topics that are popular and shareable among social media users.
There are different types of Grey Hat SEO that you should avoid using:
This is when you add keywords over and over again to your web page without making sure that they’re relevant. If someone searches for ‘football boots’, would every single page about football boots have the word ‘football’ repeated several times? Of course not!
As mentioned above, building links artificially has been considered an effective way to rank in the SERPS in the past. However, Google introduced their Penguin algorithm which specifically targets sites that have been buying links to improve their search engine results.
Similar to the cloaking mentioned above, this is where you show search engines relevant content and users irrelevant content. This could include showing them special offers or big discounts which aren’t available to regular visitors.
Cloaked Content Farms:
These are websites that exist purely for the purpose of producing large volumes of low-quality content. The idea behind this is that your site will rank highly in Google because it has a lot of text on it. If you’re creating lots of poor-quality sites like this, they won’t last very long.
As mentioned above these are pages that have been created with the sole purpose of ranking high in the search engine results pages (SERPS). They are often filled with keywords and little else and are designed to funnel users towards a particular page.
White Hat SEO
As mentioned before, this is a safe and ethical way to do SEO. It involves following all of Google’s guidelines and working on improving a website’s ranking over time through good, quality content and link building.
White hat SEO is the practice of optimizing a website for Google and other search engines results pages (SERPs) while following the company’s Webmaster Guidelines. The better you follow these guidelines, the higher your site rank will be with search engines over time. Search engines look at sites that take the high road and play by the rules as more reputable and worthy of high rankings.
It’s the most ethical and sustainable option because it focuses on creating valuable content that will naturally attract links from other websites.
When done correctly, white hat SEO can be extremely effective. But it takes longer to see results than black hat tactics, and it requires more manpower (and money) to implement correctly.
If you think about it, web designers really only have to follow one rule: make your site appealing to users. After all, if people like using your site, they’ll tell their friends how great it is. If their friends like what they see too, those visitors might share their experience with others on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
Each new visitor that comes to your site will take a look around and decide whether or not they want to continue browsing. If you’ve done everything right (following the guidelines for white hat SEO), then your traffic numbers will begin to increase over time.
There are different types of White Hat SEO that you should use:
This is when someone who has a website with authority in your niche, writes an article for you on their website. You then link back to your site within that post. Having high-quality content written about you means that the search engines will recognize you as being influential in your field and it’ll also drive traffic to your site via the author’s audience.
Rather than trying to get links by building low-quality sites or using black hat SEO techniques, this involves giving away free stuff or hosting giveaways so users can spread the word for you. If they upload photos of themselves using your product or service, this could potentially lead to thousands of new photos online which link back to your site!
Creating a presence on social media is a great way to increase brand awareness and drive traffic. It’s also beneficial because it can help build your company’s authority in the eyes of Google and other search engines, who use backlinks from these profiles as votes for how reputable you are.
Which one is better and Which one should you choose?
That depends on your business goals and how much risk you’re willing to take. If you’re looking for short-term gains, then black hat SEO might be a better option.
Black Hats are likely to get websites banned within the Google index, so the question is do you want to take that risk? You can certainly make some money using Black Hat techniques but more often than not it’s a short-lived success. The reason for this is two-fold:
1) It won’t last – Google is smart and they will catch up with you.
2) When they do, there are major consequences for trying to game their system in this way.
White Hats are on the other hand an extremely safe option. They have been around since the beginning of SEO and still prove to be successful today due to their unwillingness to break any rules or guidelines set out by search engines. The results of White Hat SEO come over time and the website should be safe from any major fallout.
Grey Hats are a mixture of Black and White Hat techniques and as such, they come with some risks but also some benefits too. The best advice we can give you is to avoid Black Hats, focus on learning more about White Hat SEO, and then at some point learn how to implement Grey Hat strategies if you think they will work for your business.
Whilst SEO can be a powerful marketing tool when it’s done right, it has to be carried out with complete transparency and honesty for it to be effective. It should never involve spamming or deception as this will only damage your online reputation and could lead to your site being penalized – which you don’t want.
If you’re looking for help with a white hat SEO, please feel free to contact us today and we’ll do our best to put together a plan specifically tailored towards helping you achieve your marketing goals.