Use White Hat SEO and Avoid Black Hat

Why It's Always Better to Use White Hat Search Engine Optimization

SEO Results. Getty Images

You may have heard the  terms "white hat" and "black hat" in relation to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). But do you know what they are, what the differences between them?

In short, when you use "white hat" strategies and techniques in your digital campaigns, you're doing everything right and above board. On the other hand, "black hat" techniques are favored by many because they often yield better results in the short term.

This is due to the underhanded way they work (more on that in a moment).

What you need to know is that search engine spiders have become much more sophisticated, and can spot the difference between white hat and black hat SEO efforts. So, while it may be tempting to get that initial hit from "black hat" techniques, you should always optimize your site with white hat SEO. This will yield better search results over time, and you will avoid the penalties of "black hat SEO." Here are some good examples:


Black Hat SEO - Stuffing or Spamming Meta Tags

Stuffing or spamming your Meta tags does nothing for your search results except flag your site as one using black hat SEO. Search engines are always on the lookout for spammed Meta tags. For example, let's say an online pet store called Fiction Pets is stuffing its Meta tags. The site's black hat Meta keywords might read:

  • <meta name="keywords" content="fiction pets, pets, dogs and cats, pet stores, dogs, cats, lizards, birds, dog collars, hamster cages, jessica alba, fish, dog shampoo, dog treats, bird seed, good dogs, bad dogs, nice kitty">

    Its stuffed Meta description might read:

    • <meta name="description" content="Fiction Pets is the best pet store of all the pet stores. You've never seen a pet store like Fiction Pets. best pet stores, good pet stores, visit pet stores, contact pet stores">

    White Hat SEO - Choose a Solid Keyword Phrase

    Research your keyword phrase.

    Choose a solid keyword phrase that accurately represents your page and use it in your Meta tags. An example of Meta keywords:

    • <meta name="keywords" content="online pet store, fiction pets, pet supplies, pets store, pet supply store">

    A white hat Meta description could be:

    • <meta name="description" content="Fiction Pets is an online pet store with a full line of pet supplies for dogs, cats, birds, fish and more. Our pet supply store can help you get everything you need for all of your pets.">


    Black Hat SEO - Hidden Content

    There are many ways to hide content on your site. All of them are black hat SEO methods.

    Hidden content includes white text full of keywords on a white background. Another black hat SEO method is using comment tags to hide keywords. For example:

    • <!--hidden content, hidden content is bad, hidden content in comment tags is bad--!>

    White Hat SEO - Quality Content

    Content that targets a strong, related keyword phrase on each page wins every time. After you've chosen your keyword phrase, use it consistently throughout the page. For example, a page with a Meta title of "White Hat SEO - White Hat SEO methods" could have this first paragraph of content:

    White hat SEO is the key to effective search engine optimization.

    If you're not using white hat SEO methods, none of your SEO techniques will be effective.


    Black Hat SEO - Link Farming 

    The idea behind link farming is that you exchange links with other websites to boost your site's rank in search results. Search engines like Google examine how many sites are linking to yours when determining rank.

    With a link farm, you've traded your link with many sites for the sole purpose of increasing your site's search rank. In effect, you're trying to fool the search engine into thinking your site is more popular than it really is.

    White Hat SEO - Inbound Linking

    When someone links to your blog post or a page on your site within their content, you have a quality inbound link. Unlike with black hat link farming, inbound linking is not a link list traded for the sake of boosting your search results.

    Creating content that is compelling attracts site visitors. It also captures the attention of other webmasters who are looking to create their own content with contextual links to your site.


    Black Hat SEO - Doorway Pages

    Doorway pages are known by many names, such as bridge pages, entry pages, gateway pages, jump pages and portal pages. These pages are created to spam search engines with a certain phrase.

    A doorway page is created to get traffic based on keyword phrases and then funnel those site visitors to the main site. Most search engines catch doorway pages and sites are penalized.

    White Hat SEO - Headings

    A better use of page elements is to break up your page visually with SEO-friendly headings. An article using <H1>, <H2> and <H3> tags that make good use of your keywords has more weight in search engines than a page full of regular-sized text.