In today’s digital arena, understanding the difference between White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO is crucial. One of the most important components of running a business is making sure that business’s digital presence is optimized so that it can be found across the internet. This is generally accomplished by utilizing a service that marketers offer known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But not all SEO is created equal, which becomes incredibly apparent in the discussion of Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO. As time has gone on and the internet has evolved and progressed, so have the methods that marketers use to optimize businesses. Some methods, however, can cause more harm than good.
What does White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO even mean?
“White hat” and “black hat” are terms used to describe how the SEO is being carried out or implemented. White hat SEO techniques are generally considered to be more ethical methods. They are supported by Google and optimize the business by using the appropriate tools and providing the necessary data (keywords, descriptions, page titles, follow and no-follow settings, etc.) to search engines. Google offers tools for just about every white hat SEO method and it is how they prefer to receive the data necessary for Search Engine Optimization.
Black hat SEO techniques commonly use methods that are considered to be deceptive or unethical. Essentially, black hat SEO methods can confuse or disrupt the quality of the internet and how the search engines deliver search results. Black hat SEO methods are frowned upon by all search engines. These methods can even result in bans, penalization, or prevention from ranking on search engines if the entity discovers that black hat methods were used.
What’s an example of a Black Hat SEO tactic?
A very common example of a black hat SEO tactic is article spinning. Article spinning is a practice by which one enters an article into a software tool, and the tool “spins” the words of the article to use synonyms and rephrase sentence structures to create new, unique content. This software then blasts these article variations out to thousands of websites and directories across the internet. This is done to prevent duplicate content and use these “spun” articles in some of the same locations multiple times. Article spinning softwares usually promise to make it harder for search engines to detect the article as spam, because it’s not the same article every time they come across it.
But does article spinning actually work?
Not. At. All. Article spinning can be an appealing tactic for mass exposure but the reality is that the articles almost always come out unreadable and making no sense whatsoever. Also, with how advanced search engines have gotten, you’re not fooling them at all. It’s almost immediately detected as spam nowadays. Today, search engine robots and crawlers aren’t just looking at the page as a whole, they’re analyzing every microscopic component of the article or web page. Thus, it’s pretty easy for search engines today to detect that these spun articles are in fact duplicate content. Expanding on this point, the majority of websites and directories that these tools post the spun articles to usually only bring in bot or spam traffic, often times unengaged and not even from the same country.
What are some other examples of Black Hat SEO tactics?
- Content Automation
- Keyword Stuffing
- Cloaking Links
- Link Manipulation (& Buying Links)
- Link Farms, Link Wheels, Link Networks
- Pages with malicious behavior (phishing, viruses, trojans, malware)
- Sneaky Redirects
- Automated Queries to Google
What are the differences between White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO?
Now that you have a better understanding of what white hat SEO is and what black hat SEO is, let’s dive into some of the key differences between these methods. The differences between white SEO vs. black hat SEO really lies in four core components: method, price, time, and quality.
1 – Method of Optimization
The methods of optimization for white hat SEO and black hat SEO are drastically different. White hat SEO requires careful research and analysis of the keywords that customers use to find those businesses on search engines. Conducting white hat SEO usually takes hours and is done by utilizing a number of different analytical & optimization tools. This differs from black hat SEO, which is usually executed by entering information into a software tool. While white hat SEO takes hours to analyze metrics like search volume, competition, bid prices, etc., black hat SEO can occur as quickly as one can run their software – sometimes as little as 5 minutes.
2 – Price
The price of these SEO techniques tends to vary quite a bit as well. White hat SEO, when conducted by a certified professional usually costs thousands of dollars. While black hat SEO’s only cost is the price of the software, and these software tools can cost anywhere from $50 – $1,000. Many black hat tools market themselves as a more affordable option than hiring a professional. This practice is a large part of why SEO pricing is drastically different from marketer to marketer.
3 – Time until Optimization
The time until optimization is one of the primary differences in these methods of SEO. While white hat SEO respects the search engine’s algorithm and understands that search engine crawlers need to scan your site and recalibrate with the search engines, black hat SEO is a different machine entirely. We like to tell clients that their white hat optimization will begin calibrating and they’ll start ranking differently in search results in about 3 – 6 months. The reality is that the website will rank better in about a month, but every application is different. These are drastically different circumstances than that of black hat SEO, which promises results in absurd time frames, such as one day to two weeks. Obviously, a quicker optimization time is more appealing to many business owners and marketers, but it’s not always in the best interest of the business. Many of these tools aren’t entirely unable to meet those promises of optimization. The ones that are able to provide extraordinarily fast optimization do it by essentially spamming search engines and exploiting the way that the algorithm works. Thus, the next the time search engine updates their platform, it will become incredibly apparent what was done, and the website will be penalized.
4 – Quality of Optimization
The last component to consider in the differences between white hat SEO vs. black hat SEO is the quality of optimization. While white hat SEO is effective at naturally ranking a business’s website and getting them found on search engines, the real benefit is that it provides incredibly targeted, high-quality traffic. To rank organically is to have a constant stream of relevant traffic to your brand’s website. This is very different than black hat SEO, which doesn’t actually provide quality traffic. Black hat SEO is often linked with link clicking schemes, where people can be paid a fraction of a cent to click on your website and sit there for 30 seconds. Black hat SEO tactics also very commonly send bot traffic to your site, or put it in completely irrelevant directories and places across the internet. These black hat methods will skew analytical data for the performance of the website, and these effects can often be irreversible. Therefore, with black hat methods, not only are you not receiving targeted traffic, but you’re actually setting your website up for bigger performance issues in the long-run.
White hat SEO is expensive to have a professional do, can’t I just use black hat SEO and hope for the best?
No, not only are black hat SEO methods frowned upon, but they also pose some very serious risks for the lifespan of your business URL. If a search engine discovers that you have used black hat SEO methods to rank, you will be penalized. This means that not only will you no longer rank on search engines for the keywords you were trying to rank for, but you may be further prevented from ranking anywhere at all — i.e., banned from the search engine. Years ago, this phenomenon was known as the “Google Sandbox,” meaning your website was thrown into the sandbox that nobody sees or cares about.
This means that with black hat methods, you’ll usually wind up with skewed website analytics and bot traffic that’s nearly impossible to filter and will never go away for the duration of your URL, you’ll get incredibly irrelevant and untargeted traffic that doesn’t convert on your site and makes your conversion metrics look far worse than they actually are. Additionally, you run the risk of being penalized and never ranking on search engines again!
Black hat SEO methods are virtually useless with how far search engine algorithms have come today. But unfortunately, they’re still a very appealing option for many new marketers, freelancers, and business owners.
The reality is that many marketers and freelancers that use black hat tactics will drastically inflate the price of their SEO services and charge thousands more than a certified professional would charge, and then run their software tool in 5 minutes and be done with the service. In the short term, they can show businesses that they are receiving traffic, never revealing that it’s unengaged, bot traffic. In the long term, however, these businesses have been set up to fail and have a very difficult time establishing a digital presence because of the “get-rich-quick” appeal of using black hat SEO techniques – techniques which can cause problems for business owners for the lifetime of their URL.
Hiring a certified professional to conduct your SEO using white hat SEO techniques is so important. Though it can be expensive, when done properly, good SEO will provide you with the digital presence you need for years to come.
If you are interested in having your SEO conducted and implemented by certified professionals, New Moon Strategy has everything you need. Contact us to learn more!