Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO

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Written By Robert Dunford
I am a Marketing Consulting in the Great Toronto Area with over 25 years experience in building and implementing marketing plans for small business.

Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO.png

In SEO, there is a wrong way to do things and a right way. Both seek to achieve the same end goal — namely, ranking high in search results – but approach the problem from different angles. Webmasters that try and undermine Google rules and regulations deploy tactics collectively known as ‘black hat SEO.’ Meanwhile, webmasters that stick to Google’s guidelines are committed to a ‘white hat’ approach. The best SEO services generate excellent and enduring white hat SEO results without dipping into the realm of disapproved tactics.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Put simply; black hat refers to the deployment of aggressive strategies focused almost exclusively on the search engine. Little thought given to interests of a human audience, whereas search engine guidelines are ignored in the pursuit of short-term profit.

Examples include:

–       Keyword stuffing

–       Invisible text

–       Doorway pages

–       Adding unrelated keywords to the page content

–       Link schemes (either link farming or buying links)

–       Guest posting networks

–       Blog content spamming

Some of these tactics sit within a grey zone.   Take keyword stuffing, for example. It used to be common practice because previous iterations of the Google algorithm considered keyword frequency an important ranking factor. It was only when the algorithm updated, and Google publicly stated that keyword stuffing will be penalized, that SEO best-practices shifted focus. Link building also falls into a grey area because, as Hilary St. John at SEMrush points out, it can be hard to determine whether or not a link is earned naturally or not.

Why do people use black hat SEO strategies?

Black hat strategies are mostly deployed by bad actors looking to make a quick financial gain. Once they succeed in monetizing a website, they close it and move on to another venture.

Google penalizes a site for small infractions, and, if violations persist, will ban the URL from indexing. So if you want to talk about best SEO services, then you need to explore the approved optimization tactics recognized by Google.

What is White Hat SEO?

White hat SEO is the use of optimization strategies that serve the interests of a human audience as well as the search engine. A dual approach is needed because Google is on guard for sites with weak technical infrastructure (because Webmaster guidelines have been ignored) or thin content that does not reflect searcher intent.

Elements of white hat practices include:

–       Keyword research and targeting

–       Link building through reputable means

–       Optimizing headers and meta descriptions

–       Publishing content for human readers

Who uses White Hat SEO Strategies?

White hat SEO is the approach any business must take if they have a long-term investment in mind. An effective strategy usually takes a couple of months to kick-off, but it is always worth it. The longer you have been performing excellent SEO, the higher domain authority your site will have, and the more traffic it will bring.


The line separating good SEO website practice from bad is more defined than ever. Going about things the right way may take time, but it will also yield enduring results.

All you need is time (4-6 months) and patience and you can get that new business through digital marketing efforts.   If you need results quicker, a website refresh and pay per click (PPC) program may be better suited to your needs.    Contact me.    We can discuss strategy on the phone or get a coffee.

Rob Dunford is a Marketing Consulting in the Great Toronto Area with over 20 years experience in building and implementing marketing plans for small business.

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