White Hat SEO vs Grey Hat and Black Hat SEO


There is a common notion that SEO is all about keywords, or stuffing pages full of keywords, or spammy writing intended to “game” the search engines into ranking your pages highly, for monetary gain.

That is not “good” SEO. In broad terms, it is SEO, because it will sometimes work to raise the organic search rankings, but “good”, or “white-hat” SEO involves factors such as keyword research and use in quality content, creation of linkbait to attract inbound links from reputable sources, clean website code and site architecture to encourage the search engine bots to explore the site deeper, and usually a bit of fun along the way.

There are two major terms described in SEO: “white-hat” and “black-hat.” There is however a debate of the merits of white-hat and black-hat SEO, along with discussions about “grey-hat”, which is the sometimes ethically-fuzzy middle ground. Often these are questionable SEO tactics and once the web community may realise what you are doing, this could affect your online reputation.

Here are specific pointers of these three types of SEO and what they could mean to your business:

Grey Hat SEO

Grey Hat SEO falls under the “questionable” category for search engine optomisation. This is not the ethical way to SEO your site, but it is not considered search engine spam, yet. You may be able to get away with Grey Hat tactics and avoid search engine penalties but members of the web community may realise what you are doing and this could effect your online reputation.

Some Grey Hat SEO tactics:

  • Buying links for PageRank
  • Duplicating Content on your website
  • Cloaking
  • Reciprocal link exchanges

Some of these tactics can improve your search engine ranking, but these are questionable methods and you will get much better results if done via White Hat methods.

The Real Deal with Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO refers to illegitimate optimisation tactics designed for stronger and more immediate search ranking improvements. This often involves manipulative behaviour and the search engines will penalise or ban websites that undertake this behaviour. An example would be the link-buying scheme that enabled JC Penney to be at the top of the search rankings for incredibly competitive keywords, such as “dresses”.

These are Black Hat SEO tactics you should watch out:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Invisible Text
  • Cloaking pages, ie showing different pages to the search engines than humans
  • Doorway pages
  • Manipulative Redirects
  • Duplicate content/ websites

What is White Hat SEO?

White Hat SEO refers to legitimate and ëproperí ways to search engine optomise your website.

This is ethical SEO and utilises tactics allowed by the search engines such as:

  • Internal Linking
  • Title Tag and Description optimisation
  • Content Creation to attract inbound links
  • Guest Blogging for author links
  • On Page Keyword optimisation

Why White Hat is ethical as an SEO strategy

The choice of going 100% white hat will pay massive dividends every time. There’s always a better way to spend that time and money. Many just lack the creativity and willingness to do the hard work, others are seduced by the quick win or ignorant of the options available to them.

White hat builds exciting companies, spam doesn’t. With a very small number of exceptions, spam doesn’t build exciting, scalable, long-term companies. It creates relatively small amounts of temporary wealth. If you’re unwilling to trade short term gains for long term success, you’re probably hurting the online ecosystem.

White hat SEO, particularly in boring industries for non-established sites is a tremendous challenge. It requires immense creativity, huge quantities of elbow grease and a lot of patience, too. But it can be done even in boring industries or for competitive queries.

That is you must invest your time and money on Inbound Marketing which really works. And through these, you will find your audience on the web and build trust and authority. You have a great choice to work on these specific areas:

Comment Marketing
Online videos
Social bookmarking
Direct/Referring Links
Type-in Traffic
Q&A Sites
Word of Mouth
Document Sharing
Social Networks
Research/White Papers