White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO
You must have heard about white hat hackers and black hat hackers. White hat hackers are the ones who gain access to the systems with the permission of the organization and try to protect them from cyberattacks. Black hat hackers, on the other hand, hack the systems to compromise sensitive information for their personal gains. However, do similar terms exist in the field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well? Well, yes. Let us first give you a brief overview of SEO and then discuss white hat vs. black hat SEO.
The term digital marketing is now known to many – a form of marketing that involves the promotion of products and services over digital channels like email, social media, mobile applications, websites, and so on. SEO is one of the important aspects of digital marketing. We know that search engines apply some complex algorithms to bring the best results whenever a user types his query. The better a website is search engine optimized, the higher it will rank on the Search Engine’s Results Page (SERPs). Also, research says that people are most likely to click on the top three to four results to find answers for the keywords they search. So, if your website is among those top results, you might get a lot of traffic and exposure from the audience.
You can now get the idea that SEO refers to all the activities taken to increase the traffic to a website by making them more search engine friendly. Here, we are referring to organic traffic and not something for which one needs to pay the search engines. Some of the popular SEO strategies include writing high-quality content, choosing the right keywords, using analytics to track the performance, using appropriate title tags, meta tags, and meta descriptions, improving the page load speed, and so on. While all these efforts come under on-page SEO, companies also perform off-page SEO strategies like backlinking and promotion on social media platforms to improve the rankings on SERPs.
Now that you have got some idea about SEO, let us learn about white hat SEO.
What is White Hat SEO?
White Hat SEO simply means following the guidelines established by search engines like Google and Bing to optimize your website. This means there are no tricky practices involved that can manipulate the search engines. Not following the general search engine guidelines does not mean you are doing something illegal. However, such practices are not termed ethical and go against the spirit of ranking systems.
Search engine algorithms have evolved over the years to help audiences find the most relevant results for their queries. They have encountered many malicious practices like stuffing of keywords, content automation, hidden texts and links, and so on. Evidently, search engines update their algorithms regularly to deal with such issues and make new Terms of Service. White hat SEO practices involve staying within all these terms and making the websites genuinely search engine friendly.
Some good white hat SEO practices include the creation of high-quality content, making the site pages indexable, having a proper sitemap with all the important pages, and good internal linking on the website. All these practices help search engines crawl your site properly and rank it accordingly for the targeted keywords.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Contrary to white hat SEO practices, Black Hat SEO is all about breaking the rules set forth by search engines and indulging in malicious SEO practices. Though such practices may give instant results, the search engines understand the manipulation soon, and you may get into a lot of trouble. Such practices are deceptive and try to manipulate search engines into believing that their site is adding good value, while originally it is not.
People performing black hat SEO are aware of the Google algorithms but somehow succeed in finding loopholes and exploit them to their benefit. Though the results are good for the time being, they are usually short-lived. This is because when the next search engine algorithm update arrives, your previous rankings may fall off drastically, and you may even be penalized later.
Some of the black hat practices that were followed in the past (not working at present) include hidden texts by changing the background color, cloaking, copying content from trusted websites, fake backlink profiles, keyword stuffing, reporting a competitor, and so on.
White hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO
By reading the information above, it must be clear to you that white hat SEO practices are followed to achieve the long-term benefits and to gain the trust of the audience. Black hat SEO practices focus on gaining short-term benefits, and people look for quick financial gains by adopting them. White hat SEO maintains the integrity of the website and improves your search performance over the years organically. On the other hand, black hat SEO practices do not build a reputation on the audience, and many may soon leave it the moment they find out it’s fake.
Black hat SEO tactics intentionally go against the search engine guidelines and may prove to be quite risky and dangerous. The search engines can even ban your website temporarily upon finding out such malicious practices. So, don’t be confident that algorithms that are not able to catch your sneaky techniques now won’t be able to do so in the future.
Overall, the choice is obvious. If you want to thrive in the digital marketing industry in the long term, adopt white hat SEO practices and make your website search engine friendly.