The modern-day marketer has a lot of concepts and trends to wade through. There are some marketing activities that work, others that don’t, and some which are in a grey area. When it comes to SEO, marketers may find the terms and strategies of this marketing subset to be quite advanced. Like any other marketing channel, there is an art to doing SEO well and identifying what strategies work, and what goes against Google’s terms of service. Whether you are working on your SEO strategy yourself or have hired a white-label SEO service – it is important to know the difference.
Today, we will look at the differences between white-hat and black-hat SEO.
White hat SEO is the easier to understand of the two, as white hat SEO practices are approved by search engines. Ultimately, every marketer should be incorporating white hat SEO as this will enhance your position in the search engines, and Google’s (and other search engines) Terms of Service are not being challenged in the process. The goal of white hat SEO is to improve your ranking and visibility in the SERPs (search engine results page) while keeping your website authentic to its purpose. Generally speaking, if there is an SEO tactic that does not serve the quality of your website or enhances the user experience, then it may not be a white hat SEO strategy. White hat SEO can include on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
As you might have guessed, black hat SEO is everything that white hat is not. Black hat SEO aims to improve rankings through strategies that are not approved by search engine terms of service. The list of black hat SEO strategies has grown slowly over time, but it is usually seen as keyword stuffing, using PBNs (private blog networks), and cloaking. Black hat SEO is about gaming the system, rather than implementing working strategies that may take a little bit longer or more labor to create quality content to achieve the same result.
Now that we have learned what white and black hat SEO is, we can begin to clarify the differences and see why white hat wins out as the most appropriate choice between the two. So, what are the main differences?
White hat SEO is all about implementing strategies that ensure the quality of the content comes first, earning high rankings through merit. Comparatively, black hat SEO is all about the business, as the content changes and additions are designed for rankings and clicks rather than what the true user intent is.
Another key difference between white and black-hat SEO is that white-hat SEO tactics are approved and will not be penalized, whereas black-hat SEO can be penalized. Going against the terms of service of search engines can carry weighty consequences including having pages deindexed, fines, and Google not ranking businesses favorably due to being labeled spam. Regardless of how tempting it can be to rank for those top spots, overcoming penalties with Google may prove to be a longer and more expensive journey than ranking the ethical way.
Generally speaking, a business can implement white hat SEO tactics and not need to work with any third-party entities. Black hat SEO tactics will rely on link-building and so there needs to be communication and negotiation with other website owners to host content that links back to your business. This can be a labor-intensive job, and one that can be costly as these third-party websites will charge for link building.
It can be confusing to stay abreast of all the marketing tactics out there, and there is often a real sense of urgency in ranking well as the competition in the market grows. Stay focused on white hat SEO and you will have favorable results with Google and prove value-adding content for your audience.