Black Hat, White Hat or Grey Hat SEO

Posted 19.06.2020

By Luke Pickering

Search Engine Optimisation, otherwise known as SEO, is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic that you’re bringing to your site through organic search engine results. There are a whole host of things that will contribute to your Google rankings and Google categorises these methods into Black hat, White hat and Grey hat SEO. This means that some of the methods are preferred and other ones you should steer clear from at all costs but we’ll be going through the best, the worst and the ones we’re not sure on…

White Hat SEO

This type of SEO is exactly what you should be using, white hat SEO. White hat means that you are looking at Google’s guidelines and you’re following tactics that are ethical and are going to help grow your site but only through methods that go by the guidelines. It’s important that you know what methods are white hat and that your digital marketing agency is following them:

  • Putting out great content
    • Google will reward you a great amount if you are focusing your efforts in putting out great content that is going to be offering value to your users.
  • Quick loading times and mobile-friendly
    • Making sure your site is becoming increasingly important as Google has opted for a mobile-first indexing system. This means they will soon be ranking sites based on their mobile version first.
  • Making your site easily crawlable
  • High authority, relevant backlinks and internal linking
  • Descriptive, keyword-rich meta tags

These are the SEO methods your digital marketing agency should be using and they will have the best effects on your website in the long run.

Black Hat SEO

Black hat is seen as the risky practices that you shouldn’t be using. Unfortunately, they do work and there are a number of different methods you shouldn’t be using but people do. They’re very often tactics that will be patched at some point in an update but they can be anything from things that go against guidelines from search engines all the way to more daring strategies that could lead to a manual action. While breaking Google’s guidelines isn’t illegal, and it’s not likely going to end in legal action (unless you’re hacking), it is something that will have a negative effect on your rank if you get caught. Black hat SEO isn’t something that is decided on by a governing panel at Google; it is what SEO experts as a collective think are closest to the guidelines and is acceptable and not cheating the system.

Some examples of Black Hat SEO include:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Negative SEO (reporting your competitors with false claims)
  • Buying links
  • Commenting your links on forum posts
  • Pages with malware on whether it be phishing, viruses or trojans

These SEO techniques will work in a short term win unfortunately they will increase the traffic to your site and they will help with your exposure but are the penalties worth it? You could be looking at having your site de-indexed if you are using these methods, so everything you will have paid out for will all be for nothing.

Grey Hat SEO

So as you can probably work out by now, grey hat SEO are techniques that are in the middle. They’re the ones that divide SEO professionals and there are differing opinions on them depending on what agency you go to. The SEO community also can’t decide on a definition for it, it varies from a mixture of both black and white hat techniques, to a technique that is currently white or black but could change depending on upcoming updates. But either way, it’s something that you wouldn’t want to be telling Google you’re doing, but also something that you shouldn’t immediately be penalized for doing it. So while it may not be that bad it’s probably something you wouldn’t want to be doing all the time and the main way that you’re improving your search rankings. These are things such as:

  • Cloaking
    • This is providing different content to the search engine spider to what you’re providing your user with
  • Duplicating content across your site
  • Social media automation and buying your followers

If you’re looking for some help with your SEO efforts do not hesitate to get in touch with our team of experts here at Frogspark. They’re ready and waiting to get started on your project…

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