White Hat, Gray Hat and Black Hat SEO: what are the differences?
SEO Basics
  3 min read
White Hat, Gray Hat…
SEO Tester Online
12 December 2019

White Hat, Gray Hat and Black Hat SEO: what are the differences?

SEO is a vast matter. It includes many techniques, approaches, and even points of view about professional ethics.

For this reason, SEO professionals identify three main categories of optimization practices:

  • White Hat SEO techniques;
  • Gray Hat SEO techniques;
  • Black Hat SEO techniques. 

If you work with SEO, you are already using techniques that fall into one of these three categories, whether you are aware of them or not. In this article, we go into detail of the white hat, black hat, and grey hat SEO techniques and their features.

What is white hat SEO?

Professionals use White hat SEO techniques when they comply with the guidelines provided by Google and other search engines and doing their work without cheating.

The White Hat SEO consultant plays by the rules and doesn’t try to get around them. She doesn’t exploit the flaws of the algorithm, nor she damages her competitors.

Doing white hat SEO is the best solution if you aim to long-term results and don’t want to see your work go wasted after a Google’s algorithm update, penalizations, or manual actions

You’ll see results coming slowly, but steadily.

Examples of White Hat SEO techniques

  • Keyword research;
  • Optimization of the website user experience;
  • Natural use of keywords in the tag title and headings, in the content, in the alt text, and the anchor;
  • Constant quality content creation.

Black Hat SEO

As you can imagine, while White Hat SEO is linked to an ethical, rules-abiding way of working, Black Hat SEO is quite the opposite.

With Black Hat SEO, we mean an approach to search engine optimization that aims to get the best results as soon as possible with any means necessary, including techniques for SERP and algorithms’ manipulation, or even practices that are at the edge of the law, that slander or damage the competitors. 

What are the consequences of such practices?

Compared to White SEO, Black Hat SEO techniques can boost your results in no time. But their effect is always temporary. Eventually, the search engine will get the better of you, thanks to its constant updating and searching for malpractices. 

A Black Hat SEO strategy always ends up with a penalization and the disappearance of the website from search results.

Examples Black Hat SEO techniques

  • Keyword stuffing (it’s obsolete, anyway);
  • PBN (private blog network) creation;
  • Use of doorways;
  • Cloaking;
  • Duplicate contents

Gray Hat SEO

As well as in life, SEO it’s not necessarily a matter of black or white. There various shades of gray, and we’re not talking about anything kinky.

Grey Hat SEO techniques don’t break Google’s guidelines, but it does not mean that the search engine looks favorably upon them. 

They are strategies that the algorithm cannot notice and aim to improve the ranking of a website in a not-so-natural way.

Examples of Gray Hat SEO techniques

  • Moderate link building practices;
  • Edit the publication date of articles and make them appear as new;
  • Republish preexistent content with just little modifications.

White Hat or Black Hat?

SEO is a complicated matter, and a true professional must master many techniques. 

But SEO is not all about techniques and strategies. A relevant part of the job deals with ethical matters.

In the end, the choice is yours: will you be a diligent SEO or will you turn to the dark side?

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