Besides ethical/unethical and organic/non-organic, you may also come across black hat/white hat SEO when looking for information about search engine optisation or a SEO specialist. Both seek to improve a website’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERP) and help the website owner benefit from online presence. But there is a huge difference in methods they use to improve a website’s SERP ranking. While one can help you achieve your online goals, the other can even get your website banned by the search engines.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO refers to the use of techniques that try to trick the search engines into thinking that a website deserves to be ranked higher for particular keywords. These are the techniques that search engines strongly disapprove. As a result, they ruthlessly punish websites utilising black hat SEO when they discover that they have been manipulated. And sooner or later they do. In order to protect themselves from unscrupulous SEO providers and webmasters and continue to deliver quality results to their users, search engines change their algorithms on a virtually daily basis. In year 2010, Google made as many as 500 algorithm changes which equals 1.5 per day. As a result, manipulations and deceptions don’t remain undetected for long.
White Hat SEO
Unlike black hat SEO, white hat SEO involves the use of tools and techniques that are explicitly approved by the search engines. Google for instance offers guidelines to follow to make a website more Google friendly and subsequently, achieve better rankings. White hat SEO works by encouraging natural backlinks by giving the website’s visitors a reason to leave a link to it on other websites with relevant content, typically by providing unique and valuable content, improving user-friendliness and making website’s design more attractive.
How to Tell the Difference Between Black Hat and White Hat SEO
Obviously, no SEO provider will tell you that they are using any potentially damaging tools and techniques. To avoid wasting money on SEO service that will earn you a penalty from Google and other search engines in the form of demotion or removal, you are recommended to walk away if the provider suggests use of one or more of the following techniques:
- keyword stuffing – excessive use of the selected keyword(s) within a page
- hidden text – making text invisible to visitors but visible to web spiders
- directory submissions, blog networks, link buying
- article spinning
If you need an advice on how to choose a SEO provider, you may also find useful our articles “Choosing an SEO Specialist” and “Beware of SEO Providers Who…”.