Understanding SEO: White Hat vs. Black Hat

Digital search

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process in which websites work up the rankings for their desired keywords in search engines. Just like most highly desirable objectives, there are correct and incorrect sneaky ways of achieving it. Search Engines are constantly releasing updates to improve their algorithms to reduce the effectiveness of bad SEO practices and punishing its perpetrators. Simply, White Hat is good & Black Hat is bad. Here is a breakdown of what constitutes each.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO is any sneaky approach to achieving quick search ranking results. These are practices that hurt the user experience for the searchers – the people search engines care about most. They can help you achieve quick short terms results but are definitely against search engine guidelines and may result in your website having a worse search ranking or being blacklisted altogether. Here are some common Black Hat SEO practices;

1. Invisible Text/Links: Making your text the same color as your website background might seem like a good idea to list off a bunch of keywords on your website, but it’s explicitly against the rules.

2. Automated Content: Creating bots to generate content in the website is a huge no-go! We can all detect bot-written content fairly easily and so can Search Engines.

3. Cloaking: This is the practice of showing your visitors and the search engines entirely different content. Search Engines want you to create your website for the sake of your visitors and not to artificially impress the Search Engine Bots. The Sitemap presented to Google should be sitemap with pages that are visible to your visitors.

4. Doorway Pages: These are usually pages that have very little value themselves used to generate clicks on to another page that does have value. Having multiple domains or pages for sole purpose of generating links to another is against the guidelines as well.

These are some of the main most-common bad practices we see in the Black Hat SEO world. To learn more about Google’s Guidelines, click here.

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO is just good practice standard SEO. Different companies will have different long-term SEO strategies to dominate their desired keyword ranking, even if they are targeting the same keywords. Companies seeking to be at the top results for their search ranking need to justify to Search Engines that they are the authority for such keywords. These companies will have to bring a lot of value in the content they provide to their visitors for these keywords. Here are the best practices for great White Hat SEO;

1. High-Quality Relevant Content: Having high-quality content can improve your websites ranking in unpredictable ways. When users read valuable original content they are much more likely to share to their friends adding to the number of visitors on your website – inevitably improving your search ranking.

2. Keyword Optimization: Search Engines want to make sure that the keywords you are optimizing for are crucial to your page and not just a minor footnote. Optimizing your keywords involves adding those keywords in the right places (page title, header tags, paragraph tags, etc.) of the website. Finding the right balance between keyword stuffing and quality readable content is heart and soul of White Hat SEO.

3. Page Speed: Good page speed is good for user experience – hence ideal for Search Engines wanting to link to you. Compress your images, de-bug your website until you have a fast website!

4. Quality Backlinks: Having high-quality websites link to your website is a sign that your website has value. It’s important to note websites that have bad page rank will not help and may even hurt your page ranking.

5. Internal Links/Good Website Structure: Your website should allow visitors to go from page to smoothly and organically. Navigating through pages should be intuitive. Search Engines prioritize websites where the pages link to each other. Pages that do not have any internal links within your website are known as orphaned pages and do not add much value to your SEO.

6. Social Sharing: Sharing your website pages on your social platforms is a great way to boost your website’s traffic and backlinks.

Creating your SEO Plan

SEO is a process. It takes time. It requires strategy.

Improving your SEO is a lot more than a checklist of tasks, it’s a strategy that may involve creative skills, content writing, keyword optimization, social media management, business development and much more. This is why it’s hard to give clients SEO packages that they can be reliably satisfied with. SEO plans should be customized based on their current business situation and their business objectives for the future.