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The Difference between White Hat and Black Hat SEO

Tommy Price | 8 April 2021 | 06:00

SEO. It’s a broad term that refers to an array of factors that all ultimately contribute towards ranking higher in search engines. With it being so widely used throughout industry, there are many different ways in which a business can optimise their website with SEO. Although a lot of these may work, it is important to know which of these tactics are most effective, and more importantly, which are most sustainable and least harmful to your business in the long run.

This is where the distinction between white hat and black hat SEO becomes crucial. Read on for a definition of both and how to make sure you’re practicing the right one.


Black hat SEO 

Black hat SEO refers to techniques that solely focus on playing to what you think the search engines want to see from websites. Although this may sound like exactly what you’re looking for, black hat SEO does not consider the human audience that should be the priority when optimising for SEO. Black hat SEO basically breaks and tries to manipulate search engine rules with practices such as keyword stuffing, link farming, hidden text and links, and blog spamming. Typically, these are techniques used by those who are looking for quick wins by exploiting loopholes in Google’s algorithms. Whilst some of these techniques might work in the short run, Google can ultimately penalise you by banning your website from search engine results, de-indexing it for using unethically deemed techniques.


White hat SEO

White hat SEO, a.k.a the right way to practice SEO, refers to techniques and strategies that prioritise the human audience, opposed to purely the search engine. Unlike black hat, white hat follows search engine guidelines by not breaking or manipulating the set rules. White hat techniques include naturally using keywords and keyword analysis, adding relevant meta tags, and using strategic backlinking and organic link building to accompany your original and useful content. White hat SEO takes a long-term, sustainable approach that follows guidelines and offers a positive user experience to audiences. It may take longer to see the results, but will have a much more lasting impact.


How can I start doing white hat SEO?

Creating useful, relevant, quality content is one of the most effective ways of practicing white hat SEO, as it shows search engines that your website is unique, relevant, and appropriate for audiences searching for anything related to it. Researching and naturally adding relevant short and long tail keywords to this content, as well as its headings, anchor texts, and page titles will also help search engines identify your content and rank it accordingly. However, this is not just a one-and-done strategy. Regularly adding new content will signify to search engines that you are a reliable and valuable source of information that audiences want to see. Although this may be time consuming, it’s worth it in the long run.


Although adding quality content is one of the best ways of boosting your SEO, there are many other best practices your web pages should be following in order to rank better in search engines. These on-page SEO factors span far beyond your written content, yet are still entirely under your control as a marketer. Check out our infographic, 12 on-page SEO best practices you should be doing, for ways you can make sure your web pages cannot be ignored by search engines.

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