The Black and White Hats of SEO

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is an approach used to try and improve the position held on search engine results by an entity. It aims to make a company, product, or anything else more accessible and noticeable through the natural, organic results produced by a search engine as a means of garnering more visitors to a website.

SEO can be a significant traffic driver which is highly targeted and dynamic, and it can be quite cost effective, so it’s crucial for companies to get it right, or risk falling to the uncharted obscurity that is page 2 of google search results.

1-tumbleweed

I’ve never been myself, but I hear it’s something like this

There are a variety of strategies companies use to optimise search engine results, some of them are more ethical and involve the generation of relevant and quality content, while others are a little shadier, and involve some slightly deceitful practices. These are known as white hat and black hat techniques.

black white hat

You can probably guess which is which

White hat techniques are based around quality content. They aim to optimise search engine results by offering the audience what they are looking for. The use of relevant keywords, titles and metadata, as well as an abundance of high quality inbound links are all white hat techniques that will optimise search engine results in favour of your company that don’t dupe anyone or undermine what should be the ethical and fair nature of search engines.

Black hat techniques on the other hand focus purely on how to gain search engine result favourability, with total disregard for the human audience and the content they seek. Hidden content and spammed links which will elevate search engine rankings, link farming, and essentially any practice which goes against search engine guidelines to manipulate the way the relevance of a webpage will be perceived by a search engine are considered black hat techniques.

black-hat-white-hat-seo-search-engine-optimization

These practices are unethical, and they hinder the audiences attempts to find the most relevant content based on their search, which is detrimental to the consumer for obvious reasons, as well as being disadvantageous for the search engines themselves, as if they don’t provide the best and most relevant results, internet users are far more likely to switch over to a different search engine.

 

In an effort to counter thing, search engines have developed preventative measures to face these black hat techniques. Search engines are becoming increasingly adept at sniffing out link stuffing, keyword spamming, and content duplication, and not only stopping it, but also penalizing the websites responsible with lower search engine results.

By no means does this spell the end of search engine optimisation, but rather a new and more virtuous era of it, as offering high quality and sought after content, providing value, having connected social media presences and mobile compatibility are the new best practices for optimising your search engine results, which is better for search engines, companies, and the consumers.

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6 thoughts on “The Black and White Hats of SEO

  1. Very interesting explanation of the SEO and well described using effective diagrams. Recently Greg Gifford gave a talk on marketing visibility arguing that “its not all about local SEO”. Gifford argued that there a numerous means of marketing techniques which are more effective than the SEO, however that is not to say that is it ineffective but perhaps may be better implemented on its own or in accordance with a supplementary device. To what extent do you agree with this?

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    • I completely agree with the sentiment that SEO techniques on there own will not be sufficient marketing, they are only one piece of a complex puzzle. SEO marketing helps give a website a greater chance of being viewed, however if other online marketing tools are being employed concurrently with SEO then the brand or company will have even more help in gaining awareness, a positive brand image, and subsequent page views. Basically I feel that search engine marketing, and search engine optimization in particular is crucial to a brands online success, however these techniques by them self may not be sufficient for a company to secure online success. Thanks for your comment!

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  2. Hey Ahri, another great and informative post this week 🙂 I loved your use of media throughout the post they actually made me laugh out loud haha 😛 You’re explanation of white hat and black hat strategies was great and very easy to understand and it’s great to know that search engines are taking a stand and attempting to combat black hat techniques to ensure only good quality organic websites are ranked at the top of search engine results. For an interesting read here are some of the most popular searches of google around the world some they gave me a good giggle to see what are some of the most common things people search 🙂 https://www.google.com.au/trends/topcharts#vm=cat&geo=AU&date=2015&cid

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  3. Hi Ahri,
    Thanks for posting a really informative blog post.
    It seems frustrating that there isn’t really any way of completely combating unethical black-hat practices, do you think these websites are still going to win out against websites with white-hat techniques? or is it actually worthwhile for companies to invest money in white hat SEO techniques.
    I have read a few people online saying that SEO isn’t even worthwhile as google constantly updates the algorithms, making it difficult to keep up.
    Perhaps the best way to really get to the top of a google search page is to focus on the customer and what they want and need from your website, then let the rest follow. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment Heidi! I think that white hat techniques will become more and more effective going forward, as search engines are continuously finding ways to reduce the effectiveness of black hat techniques. Due to this I would recommend that companies do invest in white hat search engine optimization techniques, as they appear to be the best way to get a website high up on search engine results pages. The frequently updated algorithms do make it a little tricky sometimes, but this is the case to a much greater for techniques gaming the system as opposed to those which actually offer good content and earn high search engine results. So I completely agree that the best way to get to the top of customer search pages in to focus on the customer, and giving them what they want.

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