The battle between good and evil never ends. You might be tempted to join the dark side of SEO, but you should keep in mind that, sooner or later, the SEO Jedi will find you and will “kill” your website.
SEO is necessary if you want to properly market your website, but going black hat doesn’t come without any consequences. The truth is that you have a choice. Black Hat SEO practices may be tempting but are not really worth the risk.
In this article, we explore some of the differences between White Hat and Black Hat SEO. We tell you what each one offers, what you should expect and which path we recommend you tread.
Spoiler alert: White Hat SEO is always the best choice.
Black Hat SEO
A black hat SEO strategy uses deception as a means of achieving higher rankings. Those who use black hat strategies are willing to break the rules if that means faring better with search engines.
“Well-executed” black hat SEO is not always easy to detect, but there are some tell-tale signs that will often give it away:
Lots of unrelated keywords
Random keywords that pop out of nowhere may make for a good laugh, but get annoying pretty fast. Talking about Donald Trump in your tips and tricks for a healthier garden blog post is probably not such a great idea. Unless Donald Trump is into gardening. We don’t know.
These pages are loaded with random keywords, ranking high as a result. Problem is, they don’t come with any meaningful content. Once you click one of them, you are immediately redirected to a different page.
This includes both random words in the body of the post and/or on the comment section as well. This text is usually randomly generated and makes absolutely zero sense.
This is another deceptive black hat SEO technique. It hides the actual content of a web page, tricking search engines into displaying content that is irrelevant to the search in which it appears.
Invisible text and links
There are many techniques one can use to hide text and links inside a post. One way to do it is by adding white text. White text is invisible to the reader but is picked up by search engines. Other ways include setting the size of the font to 0 or burying links in tiny characters, such as full stops, colons, semi-colons etc.
These practices are generally frowned upon, and for a good reason. People (and yes. search engines too) do not appreciate deception, so make sure you play fair.
Using any of these to give your website a boost in the rankings is a recipe for disaster. They might work for a while, but as your rank increases so does the likelihood of you getting caught.
If you do get caught, you risk getting your website banned from the search engine’s result page. Avoid black hat SEO like the plague!
White Hat SEO
White hat SEO is black hat’s benevolent twin sibling. They are techniques that are honest and transparent. Focus is placed on quality content and effective marketing. Here is what white hat is all about:
- Quality: Black hat SEO can only get a website so far. Real growth lies with good content that appeals to people. Better content and better marketing strategies translate into more traffic: Visitors enjoy your content and what your site has to offer, meaning there’s a higher chance that they’ll share your posts and products with others.
- Effective usage of keywords: Keywords are key to higher rankings. But not just any keywords. The keywords you use must be relevant to your content and appear at optimal frequencies. Consider weaving in some long-tail keywords into your text. Being a bit more precise means that you can rank higher with more targeted and specific searches.
- Backlinks: Backlinks bring traffic to your website and can also lead to higher search rankings. It always helps when the sites that link to you contain similar content that also ranks high.
- Internal Links: Internal links are great as long as they’re not overused. They give value to your content and make you seem more credible. Most SEO experts call for a maximum of 2-3 internal links per page.
- Meta Description: This is the first thing that appears under the title of your page. It is also the first thing your potential visitor sees. Meta descriptions need to be clear and succinct. Come up with descriptions that accurately describe what the page is about. Don’t stuff your description with keywords or make it too long. Make it sound as human as possible. You want people to be clicking your title over others.
Doesn’t sound too hard, right? White hat might not be as effective as black hat (at least short-term) but really does pay off in the long run.
Choose Your Side Wisely
White and black hat SEO promise similar things: increased visibility and traffic. You may be tempted by the seemingly effortless way with which black hat catapults sites to the top of the search results.
If you use black hat SEO, sooner or later, google will know. As per Williams: “The fall from grace is steep and swift, and when you land, it does not make a sound, because you are alone.” And you’ll be alone because your site will be banished to the depths of search engine hell, where no one goes and no one clicks.
Does that sound horrible enough? Good. That was the point. What we’re trying to say is that black hat is not worth the risk. It pays off to play fair, so do that.
Most big companies and marketers know this already, which is why they choose white hat over black hat SEO. Results don’t come as fast or as easy, but in this battle between good and evil, Google is an ally you cannot afford to lose.