White hat vs. black hat SEO tactics

By Tim Priebe on November 8, 2017

By Tim Priebe on November 8, 2017

In the early days of search engine optimization, there were lots of companies that used black hat tactics to improve rankings. Unfortunately, there are still some companies using such tactics today as well, although the search engines have gotten smarter and often recognize it.

So what exactly are black hat and white hat tactics?

Black hat

Black hat SEO tactics break the search engine rules to get higher rankings. In the past, that sometimes meant lots of keyword text in the same color as the background of the page. The average visitor to the page wouldn’t see all of that text unless they highlighted it to create some contrast, but search engines would read that text.

Basically, black hat tactics only care about the search engine factor and don’t care about the human audience reading your content. Other black hat tactics include things like keyword stuffing, link farming, and blog comment spamming.

People who use black hat tactics are generally looking for a quick fix for their SEO ranking on their site. And while some people have found short-term success with such tactics, a black hat approach to SEO can get you blacklisted from the search engines entirely.

White hat

White hat SEO, on the other hand, are strategies that focus on the human audience and quality content over time to improve rankings. This might include use of researched keywords in your content, backlinking, link building, and creating content that human readers will find valuable.

White hat means creating quality content for a human audience and following all of Google’s best practices.

This approach isn’t a quick fix. Rather, it’s a long-term investment in your website. It takes time and effort to see results from white hat SEO, but those results last much longer than anything you might accomplish with a black hat approach.

Gray hat

As with anything, there’s some gray area. Basically, gray hat is all the stuff that’s not directly black hat but also not SEO best practice. This can include things like simply rewriting an existing blog to look like new content, buying domains to create backlinks, and other such tactics. They might not quite be classic black hat techniques, but they’re not a good idea either if you want your search rankings to last.

We know it takes effort to create quality content on a consistent basis, but we believe white hat is the only way to go with SEO.


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  1. Avatar Quentin Sawatzky on November 8, 2017 at 10:29 am

    “Blog comment spamming”? – Is that like commenting on your own blog using another user name(s)? Making it look like you get a lot views/traffic?

    • Tim Priebe Tim Priebe on November 8, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Blog comment spamming is actually one person commenting on dozens or hundreds of blog articles on other people’s websites. They include a link back to their own website in the hopes that Google will count that as a backlink, and increase their ranking.

      Like all the black hat techniques, it can work quickly in the short term, but can cause major problems in the long run.

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