Web Marketing for Small Business

SEO - Black Hat vs White Hat - blog post image

SEO - Black Hat vs White Hat

If you've done any research on search engine optimisation then you've most likely come across the terms Black hat and White hat SEO. But what is meant by these terms?

Have you ever watched early Western Movies? In these movies they always showed the good guy wearing a white hat (think the Lone Ranger) and the bad guy wearing a black hat. This same logic has been used to describe the two main schools of thought in SEO.

What is White Hat SEO?

White Hat SEO is basically optimising a website for search engines using techniques that Google (and other search engines) want you to. Search Engines want to display websites with great content that will answer the searchers questions.

So White Hat SEO is just about writing great content for your website?

Yes and No. Writing great content for your website is a very important part of White Hat SEO, but it is not the only part. There are a lot of other parts that also need attention to get the most out of your website. Some of these are:

  • Keyword Research to ensure you're writing the right content
  • Meta Data to help with your listing display
  • Schema to help guide the search engines
  • Conversion Rate Optimisation
  • UX Design
  • Online Profiles
  • Social Media Posts

Now this isn't a complete list, but it shows some of the things you need to consider under White hat SEO.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black Hat SEO is doing stuff that Google (and other search engines) don't want you to do. The most common form of Black Hat SEO (and the one I despise the most) is spamming. This includes creating dodgy, worthless articles that you then post to dodgy, worthless websites with a link to your website (Article Spam), or posting pointless comments to forums or articles with links back to your website (Comment Spam).

Like White Hat SEO, there are many different parts to Black Hat SEO and link spamming is just one of many. There are also things like:

  • creating dodgy social profiles for fake reviews
  • doorway pages to trick search engines
  • keyword stuffing (not as common now, but still some trying it)
  • cloaking content written just for search engines

Does Black Hat SEO work?

The short answer is YES. Black Hat SEO is all about working out ways to get your website ranking well regardless of whether the search engines like your methods or not. As the search engines work out ways to stop a particular black hat method, then they work out new methods.

Why you shouldn't use Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO is a bit like using a dodgy Tax Accountant. Sure they might be able to work out some great dodgy tax schemes that will save you thousands, but you always run the risk of getting caught and having to pay it all back as well as a large fine (or maybe even jail). You will always have that cloud over you.

The risk of using Black Hat SEO is paying thousands of dollars to an SEO company to rank well only to have Google change their algorithm and your website disappearing from search overnight. All the money you've spent is now a complete waste. Worse still, what if you've built your business on these dodgy practices and then overnight you find yourself with no online sales or enquiries. What happens to all the staff and equipment you have built up?

Why risk so much on Black Hat SEO, when White Hat SEO can give you the same results?

White Hat SEO can give you similar results to Black Hat. Sure, it might take a bit longer, but at then end of the day you know that your online sales and enquiries aren't going to disappear overnight. Doesn't this make more business sense?

The last reason you shouldn't use Black Hat SEO, is that its' ruining the internet for everyone. I have never heard anyone say that they love Spam. No-one wants to read comments below a great article to only find a comment making no sense and linking to a website. No-one wants to search for something and click through to a website that has content that simply makes no sense and definitely doesn't answer your question. No website owners wants to have to deal with spammy webforms. So why are you helping promote this?

Why do Business Owners use Black Hat SEO?

Okay, we agree that it works, but why do Business Owners use Black Hat with all the risks when they could be using White Hat for similar results? The main reason that I see is ignorance. These Business Owners don't even know there is a difference and have been sold by unscrupulous SEO companies. The sad part is that it all starts off so well when their website starts getting great results for them. But when Google catches up to the spammy techniques being used, they suddenly find themselves in all sorts of trouble. And guess what happens to the SEO company? They suddenly decide that they can't help anymore and leave the Business Owner on their own.

So don't fall into this trap. Make sure that the SEO Company you use is using White Hat techniques. Don't take the risk.

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