The difference between black hat and white hat SEO relates to the specific techniques used when trying to improve the search engine ranking of a website or web page.
Search engine optimization or SEO is the process by which volume and quality of traffic to a web site can be improved. The higher ranked a site is higher on the search engine results pages (SERP), the more visitors the website naturally gets. Owing to the rising importance of search engines like Google, SEO is a much sought-after internet marketing strategy. Search engines determine their rankings through propreitary algorithms that are secret and closely guarded. However, these algorithms are based on certain well-known principles. Search engine optimization seeks to apply these principles to improve search ranking. The difference between black hat and white hat SEO relates to what techniques are used when applying these principles.
Black hat SEO refers to attempts to improve rankings in ways that are not approved by search engines and involve deception. They go against current search engine guidelines. White hat SEO refers to use of good practice methods to achieve high search engine rankings. They comply with search engine guidelines.
|Black Hat SEO||White Hat SEO|
|Meaning||Techniques used to get higher search rankings in an unethical manner.||Conforms to search engine designs and involves no deception.|
|Status||Disapproved by search engines.||Approved by search engines.|
|Result||Site is eventually banned, de-indexed or penalized through lower rankings.||Results last a long time.|
|Techniques||Black hat SEO techniques include keyword stuffing, doorway and cloaked pages, link farming, hidden texts and links, blog comment spam.||White hat SEO techniques include research, analysis, re- write meta tags to be more relevant, content improvement and web redesign.|
Features and Techniques Used
Black hat SEO techniques usually include characteristics that break search engine rules and regulations, create poor user experience, unethically present content in different visual and non-visual ways to search engine spiders and human users. Black hat SEO practices can yield quick results but there is also a higher risk of penalty if discovered. Black hat SEO is a short-sighted solution to the long term problem of organic search traffic. Black Hat SEO techniques include:
- Spamdexing, which is the practice of repeating unrelated phrases to manipulate the relevancy or prominence of resources indexed by a search engine.
- Keyword Stuffing – this includes packing long lists of keywords without proper formation.
- Invisible Text – this is the placing of keywords in white text on a white background in order to attract search engine spiders.
- Doorway Pages – this is a fake page that user never gets to see. This is constructed only for search engine spiders so as to trick them into indexing the site higher.
- Invisible iFrames – the page visible to user need not belong to company hosting the webpage. These are used to download software on to user’s computer in background without user’s knowledge.
White Hat SEO is creating content for users and not search engines. Its main aim is to promote accessibility. White hat SEO not only follows all SEO guidelines but ensures that all content indexed by search engines is the same as the content that a human user will see. It focuses on readability, relevance of content, well-structured and well-written content that will be useful to people who read it. It also focuses on cross-linking pages internally on a website where appropriate, as well as building relevant inbound links from trusted sources.
Effectiveness of white hat vs black hat SEO
SEO is part science, part art. There is a wide range of opinion in the SEO practitioner community regarding the effectiveness of white hat vs black hat techniques. Most agree that white hat techniques take longer to improve search rankings.
Consequences of Black hat vs White hat SEO
Even though quick results make black hat SEO tempting, it can get your site banned (de-indexed) or heavily penalized for use of unethical practices. It is widely believed that the risk is not worthwhile for websites that plan to be operational over the long haul. Moreover black hat SEO methods give only short term results. White hat SEO can get your site ranked higher by use of ethical techniques, good content, appropriate keywords and a combination of smart marketing angles providing long lasting results.
Google's Panda update rewards websites that have high-quality content. After this algorithm update, low-quality pages on the site affected not just the ranking for those pages but for the entire website.
Google's Penguin update was targeted specifically at black hat SEO techniques using which some website owners had accumulated thousands of links from "link farms". Thousands of such websites were penalized due to the Penguin update. Webmasters were encouraged to remove bad links pointing to their site. In some cases, they were able to do so successfully but often webmasters cannot control who links to them.
Because you cannot control who links to your site, it's possible for a competitor to pay link farms to point "bad links" to your website from poor-quality sites. Google's algorithms could penalize you for these links, which would hurt your search engine rankings. Bing has a tool that lets webmasters disavow bad links pointing to their website but Google does not. Some analysts have criticized Google for letting their algorithm be gamed with negative SEO.