With the constant growth of SEO’s importance, it was only a matter of time before someone looked at the whole concept and asked themselves: How can I take advantage of this? Well, that has already happened, giving rise to two different terms: black hat and white hat SEO. However, this still leaves us with a question: black hat vs. white hat SEO: What’s the difference?
Main differences between Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO
The underlying difference between black hat vs. white hat SEO, all details aside, is how legitimate they are. While white hat SEO requires following guidelines and incorporating them into your site and content while earning Google’s recognition, black hat SEO tries to game the system. For the various algorithms, there is no real difference between the two.
However, a real human audience will very quickly notice the differences. The black hat SEO sites come across as artificial and not meant for a human audience because they are not! Their only goal is getting a site to rank higher in Google search result pages, regardless of the consequences. In other words, while it may seem tempting, this is not one of the good marketing strategies for small businesses.
Traits of black hat SEO
The main traits of black hat SEO techniques include:
- Keyword stuffing
- Haphazard backlinks
- Various subtle black hat SEO methods
The first thing that makes a Black Hat SEO content obvious is how dense the keywords in it are. A normal text properly following SEO guidelines will, of course, use keywords. But black hat SEO takes this practice too far and squeezes keywords into pretty much every sentence. Sometimes, you can even find a string of keyword variations in a single long sentence, too.
For anyone reading through such content, it would be a little like being bombarded by aggressive ads that everyone skips if they can. Still, the practice can seem appealing, especially if you are trying to start an e-commerce business with a low budget. Still, be warned that keyword stuffing does more harm than good in the long term.
Backlinks are meant as the ultimate form of cooperation between sites and businesses. You can build a network of backlinks that lets you share viewers and site visitors if your target audience is compatible and you are not in direct competition. In addition, the inclusion of backlinks does wonders for your SEO. So, naturally, black hat SEO seeks to take advantage of this. In any black hat SEO content, you will see many backlinks sprinkled throughout, even though the links are irrelevant to the content topic.
At best, you can expect a loose connection in the subject. The only thing that matters to black hat SEO users is including as many links to reputable sites as possible. Unfortunately, SEO works both ways, so even though getting linked by disreputable sites is only slightly harmful, it is still a real annoyance.
Subtle black hat SEO
As we’ve already mentioned, one of the main differences when discussing black hat vs. white hat SEO is the target audience. White hat SEO targets people, while black hat SEO targets machines. Still, many people can miss covert uses of black hat SEO. Just to hit keyword milestones and sneak some black hat SEO in, site owners have developed a lot of dishonest tricks. One such example is putting keywords and backlinks into content using font colors matching the color of the site’s background. This effectively hides them from readers and allows pages to rank for search results that have nothing to do with what they are actually about. Another way to achieve this is ‘content cloaking,’ which shows crawlers the content that actual users do not see.
Traits of white hat SEO
Some of the white hat SEO techniques are:
- Organic keywords
- Healthy content
- User friendliness
White hat SEO still needs to hit all the requirements set by Google to rank highly. This can seem restrictive since inserting keywords into a text sometimes sounds artificial. Of course, this has led to greater refinement of keywords, so they come across as organic. An excellent example is how keywords have shifted to account for more frequent use of Google Voice Search.
Now, keywords are longer and are often styled as answers to questions or are questions themselves. Because of this, they are most often easier to integrate into texts, too. This, in turn, helps increase the quality of content. It is a perfect example of why white hat SEO is so much better – it enhances readers’ experience instead of just pandering to the needs of a site.
Naturally, the insistence on quality extends to the content itself. Sites that prefer to practice white hat SEO typically have much more appealing content and very frequently feature a blog. At the same time, they try to minimize the impact of SEO on their content and even forego backlinks if it is impossible to use them organically. This is why professionals know what to invest in between link building vs. link earning and overwhelmingly opt for the latter.
The final difference when talking about black hat vs. white hat SEO is the approach to site design. Black hat SEO pays very little attention to actually making a site functional. Sure, the site needs to run quickly and be compatible with phones and similar devices, but this is because it is part of SEO ratings. Website design between the two just can’t be compared, however.
Black hat SEO sites are hard to navigate, confusing, and often very plain and simplistic to the point of detriment. On the other hand, sites based on white hat SEO are very appealing and easy to use. This is because the site owners using white hat SEO take the time to properly learn how to run a business online and put a lot of thought into pleasing their site’s visitors.
We hope we have comprehensively presented the black hat vs. white hat SEO difference. To once again reiterate our previous points, the difference is this: white hat SEO is the legitimate approach, while black hat SEO takes advantage of loopholes. With the growth in algorithm complexity, we can eventually expect black hat SEO to become rarer. However, it is doubtful that it will ever be completely eliminated.