What are the differences between white and black hats in SEO?

What is White hat SEO?

White hat SEO

White hat SEO is the structure of approved search engine optimization tactics designed to raise a website’s position on a search engine results page (SERP). White hat SEO follows Google’s terms and guidelines and improves the user experience.

White hat SEO basically refers to honest methods of marketing hence the colloquial association with the word white as being honest, and reliable. Search engine results that one receives due to a result of approved methods, rather than asking for payments or some sort of scam, are referred to as organic search results.

Businesses should use this tactic as a is an excellent way to increase both website traffic and brand awareness without the risks associated with certain other techniques that can jeopardize their reputation. In fact, a white hat is one of the best ways to produce a sustainable and successful company website for your business. Companies that utilize white hat SEO tend to be much more reputable and reliable.

Using a strategy that is safer because it follows the rules and parameters of google and exhibits expectations that users expect is essentially working in the spirit of search engine guidelines. No tricks, straightforward, and honest marketing will be more beneficial to your marketing strategies at the end of the day.

 What is black hat SEO?

Black hat SEO on the other hand is a process that basically works in the opposite way, It is usually regarded as being unethical and although it is motivated to achieve the same results, in terms of trying to receive higher rankings by using SEO, it can be sketchy, and overall untrustworthy.

Think of the dark web, black money, or anything that has a negative connotation in terms of not playing by the rules. Black hat techniques generally include the strategies of keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks.

It may sound philosophical, but especially in marketing, it is important to understand what you are doing morally. When all is said and done, although it may sound better in reference to increasing your SEO, it can actually harm you in the end. Search engines anticipate creating the best user experience which basically means avoiding spam, harmful sites, and unexpected or unwanted search results.

It is less ethical, less trustworthy, and therefore, completely unreliable to the users. Black hat SEO essentially manipulates information in order to generate higher rankings. Here are some of the ways that black hat SEO tries to manipulate the user experience by providing unreliable information. Some of these may look familiar and can help you understand the negative experience you have using a search engine.

 What are the dangers of black hat SEO?

  • Keyword stuffing is the tactic of providing a variety of keywords in order to appear on a results page even though the information isn’t true. These words can be excessive and cause your page to appear under other search queries. The words will be used in excess in order to be ranked high on a page basically manipulating the algorithm. The best thing that you can do is avoid trying to stuff keywords into a page in order to generate more views and focus on the necessary and beneficial information you are trying to convey.


  • Cloaking refers to exactly what it sounds like. Sites are basically trying to cover up their truth by providing false images that are intended to make their page show up across the result pages of more search topics. They also do this in order to hide from bots that are trying to catch them for providing false information. Make sure you ask yourself if the information your using for the purpose of SEO is relevant and straightforward in order to improve user experience.


  • Sneaky redirects refer to clicking on a URL and being led to a different site altogether. This tactic is 100 percent designed for the sole purpose of manipulating search results. Sneaky redirects should be avoided at all costs for they are a blatant use of manipulation techniques and violate googles guidelines.


  • Poor quality content is unfortunately one of the most common black hat SEO tactics. This includes content taken from another website by a bot or another person and placed where it doesn’t belong. These should be avoided for they violate Google’s terms.


  • Paid links refer to how search engines such as Google strictly prohibit any financial exchange as it pertains to giving or receiving links. As a matter of fact, they state on their website that “any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.” This includes sending a website some of your free products in exchange for links.

Black hat SEO

These were just a few examples of unethical uses of SEO.

After describing how dishonorable the use of black hat SEO is, let’s take a look at why it can be dangerous. The most threatening consequence is having your website permanently banned. Because Google is getting wiser and wiser and thus familiar with what to look out for, the penalties are getting much more severe for breaking their terms. Basically, they can have a highly destructive effect on your ratings and the traffic to your site. Ultimately using black hat SEO can be very destructive to your business in every way. From destroying your reputation to being penalized by the very search engines that can help you. The risk of having your site removed, negatively affecting user experience, harming the growth of your business, and lowering your website’s search rating is pivotal.

It has been established that using black hat SEO will completely degrade your product, ruin one’s user experience, and most likely get you banned from search engines. Google and other search engines now have sophisticated algorithms for exposing black hat SEO, so the harm caused by trying to deceptively optimize your website far outweighs the benefits.  

How do you know if your agency is using a black hat?

In order to know how to monitor your own company, you have to know how to spot the use of black hat SEO. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can check or find out. Usually what will happen if an SEO company is doing black hat work is that you can see a large boost in the first 2 to 4 months and then suddenly start to lose traffic. One way to discover if your company is involved in using black hat SEO is by checking backlinks. Checking backlinks is critical when it comes to monitoring the use of black hat SEO because most companies that do use black hat SEO, build multiple links at a rapid pace. In order to do this, you can use Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO, or Google Search Console. All of these sites will show you any extreme spikes in backlinks. If there is a major spike in links, you can investigate those links to see where they are coming from. Thus, there are definitely ways to check. 

You can check for cloaking by doing a fetch as Googlebot or checking the cached version of a page and see if it matches what you view. There are other ways to find out however if you notice any red flags based on the information you’ve read, it is definitely worth looking into.

 Why should you use white hat SEO?

If you haven’t already been convinced enough as to why to focus on using white hat SEO tactics, let’s summarize the pros. It is ethical, whereas black hat SEO tactics are the opposite and highly degrading for your business. Playing by the rules will not only improve your customer success experience, but it will improve the quality of your site overall. The overall benefits of playing by the rules will undoubtedly enhance your standing in the long run. The bottom line is that white hat SEO tactics are considered to be used by the good guys. If you want to be honest, and reap all of the benefits of playing by the rules and keeping your website and thus your product safe, make sure you follow Google’s guidelines.