The Battle Between White Hat and Black Hat SEO
Batman vs. The Joker. Dorothy vs. The Wicked Witch. Whoever they may be, there’s nothing more intense than a showdown between good and evil. In the real world of online marketing, there is a similar (and at times more subtle) battle that is always raging: White Hat vs. Black Hat practices in search engine optimization (SEO).
Named for the cliched storybook concept of the white-hatted hero fighting the black-hatted villain, it should be pointed out that while some factors in these marketing practices are obvious to the eye, others are not. But first, a review of the two terms, courtesy of Amanda Marra, writing for Business2Community:
White Hat SEO.
White Hat SEO practices follow the terms and rules of Google and all other leading search engines which improve how a page is ranked on a search engine results page (SERP). White Hat practices include:
- Guest blogging: A nice quid-pro-quo between a website and other sites is established where backlinks are earned between participating websites.
- Creating and maintaining quality content: Valuable content that attracts and answers the questions and addresses the needs of visitors is likely to rank a site high in search.
- Implementing internal links: A page which includes URLs to other relevant content within the same site is a sign of its strength and value.
Black Hat SEO.
Black Hat SEO practices run counter to the rules established by Google and are not above breaking them to achieve higher rankings, despite the consequences which will certainly result, as these underhanded dealings can easily be discovered. Black Hat practices include:
- Keyword stuffing: The most obvious Black Hat practice which illustrates the phrase – “too much of a good thing,” as the same exact keywords appear over and over again.
- Invisible text: Like it says, text or URLs are hidden in content, but are seen in SEO rankings. More seriously, those who check website for Black Hat practices see them.
- Cloaking: This is almost like a bait-and-switch maneuver, whereby visitors click on a URL, expecting to see content they’ve searched for, but are presented with something else.
Know what Google is up to – always.
While the points listed above look cut-and-dried (or, fittingly, black-and-white) marketers should not rely on these general rules alone. The online world changes on a continual basis, and this includes the rules set up by Google. As Business.com recently pointed out, whenever Google changes its search algorithms, the rules separating White Hat from Black Hat practices also change. As a result, a practice once considered White Hat might be affected by a change made by Google, and then fall under the Black Hat label – and thus run the risk of being penalized – even if the marketing team behind the SEO campaign was not aware of said change. In short, the importance of keeping tabs on how Google operates cannot be emphasized enough.
Can your brand’s online presence use stronger and secure SEO to ensure it is in line with the rules while also climbing to a higher place in a search? To find out more about this and other digital marketing services, contact us today.