What is the difference between White Hat, Black Hat, Gray Hat SEO?

It is not a secret that there are many types of SEO out there for websites. White Hat SEO is considered the most ethical form of SEO. Black Hat SEO is considered spamming and can get you blacklisted from popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Gray hat SEO is somewhere in the middle, walking the line between white hat and black hat.

The primary goal of search engine optimization is to improve search engine result rankings following the guidelines provided by that search engine. These guidelines are often referred to algorithm updates in how website information is indexed and then classified.

white hat White Hat SEO

White hat SEO is broken up into three areas; content, code, and linking.

Content SEO focuses on researching relevant keywords, both short and long tail (phrases). Keywords should be used naturally within pages, page titles, headings, links, anchor text, and alt tags. Reviewing analytic reports and using that data to fine-tune website content can help to optimize content further and lead to directing more traffic to relevant pages. The final step is to make sure you are adding new relevant content on a regular basis.

Coding is an important aspect to search engine optimization in that HTML markup that search engines can quickly identify helps to ensure that your website content is indexed correctly and that the search engine recognize different types of content correctly. Going through the process of validating the code can help immensely with search engine indexing. Valid code is easier to process and results in better ranking scores. Sitemaps are required for all websites these days. Sitemaps help to organize a website's content and ensure that search engines categorize content appropriately. Finally, using cascading style sheets to control the visual appearance of a website if preferable to assigning styles within the website pages themselves (sometimes referred to inline styling). CSS helps search engines and browsers to display content more quickly and also helps to strengthen a companies brand by ensuring that there is consistency across the site in terms of design elements.

6 Factors to Maximize Your SEO Success

black hat Black Hat SEO

Result: Black hat SEO tactics will improve search engine rankings temporarily. Often, black hat SEO strategies are considered spammy by most search engines and email clients. The result is that the short term goals are reduced by the long-term effects including being blacklisted by search engines and email clients, particularly AOL, Gmail, and Hotmail.

Black Hat SEO is broken down into the three following areas: Content, Deceptive Content, and Linking]

Black hat SEO content is typically identifiable by keyword stuffing; keywords placed in comment tags, and in the metadata. Placing content that is hidden, for example, keywords that are listed on a page in the same color as the site background, making them invisible to users but tracked by search engines. Finally, overusing keywords in visible text, this looks like obvious repetition to both visitors and to search engines.

Deceptive content is seen through the use of doorway or gateway pages. Pages that are stuffed with keywords that when clicked on redirect to other non-relevant content. Cloaking is also a tactic that is used to display different content to search engines than to actual visitors by identifying visitors via their IP address or other tracking methods.

These types of practices will bring traffic to websites. However, this type of traffic is not quality traffic and rarely converts into leads and sales. The truth is that website visitors do not like being tricked into viewing content that doesn't interest them.

Black hat SEO linking is rampant in pages that act as link farms. These pages consist of nothing but links to other pages, which often have nothing to do with what the website visitor was looking for. This results in frustration to the websites visitor and decreased trust in links that are present in the link farm. Spamming forums, blogs, and other social media sites are also considered black hat linking tactics. These are folks who will comment on social media, blog posts, or other types of comment forms that include links to their websites or other unrelated sites.

SEO 101

gray hat  Gray Hat SEO

Gray Hat SEO is a combination of both white hat and black hat SEO tactics.

With content, an example of gray hat SEO would be to have a large number of duplicate keywords, but not enough to actual qualify as black hat. Another example would be posting the same content on multiple websites.

With linking, gray hat SEO can include link building where relevance is not the number one priority or the use of paid links.

Best SEO Practices

Times have changed and continue to do so. The economy has changed, Google's algorithm has changed multiple times, and how people access information has changed. With all this change, it is likely that your online marketing strategy is due for a tune-up. Transform your approach to social media, online lead generation, and Internet marketing, networking, and much more with a free consultation at InDigiMar, where digital marketing begins.

Should You Outsource Your SEO?


Sara Johnston

About The Blog

For over 20 years, the team at InDigiMar, Inc. have been helping Hampton Roads businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and institutions of higher learning create successful marketing campaigns that reach their targeted audiences. IDM offers a full spectrum of digital marketing solutions including online inbound marketing, business strategy, website design and development, content generation, and more.

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