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What is White Hat and Black Hat SEO?

What is White Hat and Black Hat SEO?
James Phillip
16th January 2017
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Is my SEO safe with you?

As with everything, there are some bad SEO practices out there. We have all heard the infamous stories of Google killing a website’s ranks due to “bad SEO”. But what exactly do we mean by "bad SEO"?

We mean Black Hat SEO. This is a form of SEO that gives fast, short term benefits with potentially serious consequences for the site in the long run. We'll discuss that in more detail later on.

There are many bad rumours about SEO, but the vast majority of these have one thing in common - an inexperienced developer looking to make some spare cash on the side. At mtc, we have the staff, qualifications, experience and client base to back up our claims of being one of Scotland’s premier SEO companies, delivering high quality, and most importantly, safe SEO work.

 

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO is an SEO strategy that takes a long time to implement. Unlike Black Hat, White Hat SEO can take weeks or even months to show results. However White Hat results are long-lasting. In contrast, Black Hat results have initially fast results but once discovered, the site will potentially be penalised or even removed by Google.

In order to implement White Hat SEO, the techniques and methods deployed must follow the search engine guidelines at all times and involve no deception. With that being said, White Hat SEO is not just about following guidelines, but also ensuring that the content on a site is what a user is looking for and what the user will value. By targeting the users, Google will pick up on this and target your keywords for terms a user would typically be searching for.

In addition to this, White Hat SEO involves the on-site and off-site SEO methods identified in our blog post “What is On-Page and Off-Page Search Engine Optimisation”. This ensures that the content is not only up to scratch for the users and search engines but the site has the best possible ranking potential.

 

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO methods aim to improve rankings in ways that are considered bad or detrimental to the end user experience, such as spamming a website with keywords that relate to X when you sell Y - this is deception. Another Black Hat SEO method involves using hidden text. This can be hidden by making the text the same colour as the background, putting an image over it, or even by making the text invisible. Another method, known as cloaking, shows a different page depending on whether the page is being requested by a human visitor or a search engine.

Search engines may penalise sites they discover are using Black Hat SEO methods.  There’s a range of options that Google can take on a site such as reducing their rankings, eliminating their listings from their databases altogether, or even a permanent blacklisting. Penalties are typically applied automatically by the Google algorithm. However, Google’s spam team will also manually penalise websites it finds violating its guidelines. One example was the February 2006 Google removal of both BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany for use of deceptive practices. And more recently, Google has penalised Interflora and the BBC for Black Hat SEO.

 

Grey Hat SEO

As well as White and Black Hat methods, there will always be those who want to push the boundaries of what’s right and wrong. This is called Grey Hat, and is the line where White Hat ends and Black Hat begins. It's where the methods employed avoid the site being penalised, but do not act in producing the best content for users. Grey Hat methods are entirely focused on improving search engine rankings. Most Grey Hat techniques become Black Hat methods further down the line; therefore, what worked for a Grey Hat site today could be what kills your site tomorrow.

 

But my SEO is safe with you right?

Don’t worry, mtc specialises in White Hat, Google approved SEO methods. We also have Google qualified individuals in our marketing team; individuals who have taken Google exams and received Google qualifications such as Google Analytics and AdWords. We are also a Google Premier Partner and if we ever committed Black Hat methods, our future on the Google partner program would be in jeopardy and that’s a risk we are just not willing to take. As you can see, committing Black Hat SEO and Grey Hat SEO puts us both at risk and we are just not going to risk our reputation, and more importantly your website, for the short-term gain and long term implications of any SEO other than White Hat.

We can help you market your website by putting together a bespoke SEO plan that encompasses White Hat SEO. So get in touch with us today to go over your SEO requirements and find out the positive impact this can have on your business.

Missed part 1 and 2 of this series? Then just click below to go back and have a read!

Part 1 - An introduction to SEO

Part 2 - What is On-Page and Off-Page Search Engine Optimisation