<Whether you’re new to SEO or you’re an SEO vet, you’ve likely heard or encountered white hat and black-hat SEO tactics. As an introduction to the world of SEO, there are two sides of the coin (or hat)—white and black.
White hat being honest SEO and black hat being deceptive, hinging on the principle of gaming the search engines to boost results. In today’s blog we’re going to delve into the underlying principles that differentiate black hat vs. white-hat SEO (and the shades in-between), and tell you why white-hat SEO is the only way to go.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat: Black hat SEO refers to using deceptive SEO tactics, methods and techniques that are defined by Google as a violation in the quality guidelines. Black hat SEO may help to achieve rankings more quickly; however, it is not long-lasting and can result in litigation as well as getting black listed from the search engines entirely. If you’re not sure whether your SEO is quality-guideline worthy, have a look at Google’s “quality guidelines,” which outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index. The black-hat label applies to those methods specifically mentioned in the “Guidelines,”whereas the white-hat label complies. Generally, Google’s guidelines are not too complicated: White hat SEO is good, black hat SEO is bad, and most grey hat SEO is risky.
White Hat SEO
White Hat: While black hat SEO is all about cheating, tricking and gaming Google and the other search engines, White hat SEO is truly about optimizing a website with honest practices that comply with Google/search engine quality guidelines. White hat SEO methods yield better results in the long run and efforts are steady and ongoing. White hat SEO companies take the time to research, analyze and subsequently re-write meta tags, content and may offer a slight redesign of the website and page names.
Examples of Black Hat SEO
If you’re new to the game and want to make sure your SEO company is optimizing your site with white hat SEO methods that won’t get you booted from the search engines, here’s a list of the lingo and just a few of the plethora of black-hat SEO tactics to be aware of:
Keyword stuffing: This involves the calculated placement of keywords within a page to raise the keyword count, variety, and density of the page. This black-hat tactic is applied to make a page appear more relevant for a web crawler in a way that makes it more likely to be found.
Hidden or invisible unrelated text: This can be defined as disguising and truncating keywords and phrases by making them the same color as the background, using a tiny font size, or hiding them within HTML code such as “no frame” sections, alt attributes, zero-width/height divs, and “no script” sections. Know, however, that hidden text is not always spamdexing—it can also be used to enhance accessibility. People screening web sites for a search-engine company might temporarily or permanently block an entire web site for having invisible text on some web pages.
Meta tag stuffing & Gateway Pages: This can be defined as repeating keywords in the Meta descriptions, and using Meta keywords that are unrelated to the site’s content. This black-hat tactic has been ineffective since 2005. Gateway or doorway pages, however, are practices still used by black-hatters. Doorway pages can be defined as low-quality web pages that contain very little content, but are instead stuffed with very similar keywords and phrases. They are designed to rank highly within the search results, but serve no purpose to visitors looking for information. A doorway page will generally have “click here to enter” on the page.
Scraper Sites: Scraper sites, also known as Made for Ad Sense sites, are created using various programs designed to “scrape” search-engine results pages or other sources of content and create content for a web site, pay-per-click ads, or redirect the user to other sites. Some scraper sites have even outranked an original web site for its own information and organization name. The specific presentation of content on these sites is unique, but is merely an amalgamation of content taken from other sources, often without permission.
Link spam: Link spam can be defined as links between pages that are present for reasons other than merit. Link spam takes advantage of link-based ranking algorithms, such as Google’s PageRank algorithm, which gives a higher ranking to a web site the more other highly ranked web sites link to it. These techniques also aim at influencing other link-based ranking techniques such as the HITS algorithm.
Link farms: Involves creating tightly-knit communities of pages referencing each other.
Hidden links: Putting links where visitors will not see them in order to increase link popularity. Highlighted link text can help rank a web page higher for matching that phrase.
Spam blogs: Spam blogs, also known as splogs, are fake blogs created solely for spamming. They are similar in nature to link farms.
Page hijacking: This is achieved by creating a rogue copy of a popular website that shows contents similar to the original to a web crawler, but redirects web surfers to unrelated or malicious web sites.
Buying expired domains: Some link spammers monitor DNS records for domains that will expire soon then buy them when they expire and replace the pages with links to their pages; however, Google resets the link data on expired domains. Some of these techniques may be applied for creating a Google bomb: A joint cooperation with other users to boost the ranking of a particular page for a particular query.
Spam in blogs: This can be defined as the placing or solicitation of links randomly on other sites and placing a desired keyword into the hyperlinked text of the inbound link. Guest books, forums, blogs, and any site that accepts visitors’ comments are particular targets and are often victims of drive-by spamming where automated software creates nonsense posts with links that are usually irrelevant and unwanted.
Mirror web sites: Hosting of multiple web sites all with conceptually similar content but using different URLs. Some search engines give a higher rank to results where the keyword searched for appears in the URL.
URL redirection: Taking the user to another page without his or her intervention, e.g. using META refresh tags, Java, Java Script or Server side redirects.
Though there are new SEO tactics being designed every day to trick Google, the best results are simply to do the job right, without cutting corners. The results will always be better in the long-run.