White hat SEO refers to approved search engine optimization tactics and optimization strategies, techniques that focus on optimizing the website keeping the audience into consideration instead of search engines, which is designed to increase the position of a website on a search engine result page. These tactics are well in tune with the terms and conditions laid by search engines like Google. White Hat SEO is the ethical way of improving the traffic to your website. The techniques used in white hat SEO make the website easy to navigate for visitors and accessible for search engines.
There are two ways of getting things done: one is the honest way or the ethical way and the other is the wrong way, which is frowned upon by majority of people. In SEO, the same thing applies, the good or the ethical way, the White Hat SEO and the unethical way of reaching the goal, i.e. the Black Hat SEO. People who are looking to make a long term investment on their website usually go for White Hat SEO, whereas people who think that their company is just a one time hit can go for Black Hat SEO. People in the SEO industry promoting themselves as the ethical White Hat SEOs usually point out that black hat SEOs are the bad guys. However, things might not just be black or white like you’ve been led to believe.
White Hat SEO is certainly not just about ethics. The concept of White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO is not based on ethics, but is a marketing strategy. By painting Black Hat SEO in a poor light, White Hats can contrast them in a positive light. Companies self describing themselves as White Hat SEOs are doing this for the sole purpose of marketing, but the practices usually do not benefit the client. When a company hires a top SEO agency, it does so for the purpose of improving their ranking on search engines and they do so while hiding from their competitors which company they have hired. White hat SEOs say that their work is transparent and they have nothing to hide, however disclosing the client list as a marketing practice is definitely an unethical practice.
Pointing fingers at others and calling them black hats to paint them in a bad light to look good by comparison, while engaging themselves in an unethical practice is hypocrisy.
A good 15 to 20 years back, white hat SEO mainly focused on exploiting Google’s webmaster guidelines and backed off when Google closed them. Both White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO focused on exploiting loopholes, however in employing strategies there is a difference between the two SEOs.
Some Black Hat myths told by White Hats:
1. Black Hats Think of themselves above the rules: Google provides guidelines which give an idea to the publisher as to what would work and what does not. Google differentiates a good and a bad SEO on the basis of these guidelines. These guidelines, however are not lawsand do not have any moral force. Violating Google’s guidelines on behalf of a client who does not have any idea about them is an unethical practice. Apart from that, violation of guidelines does not necessarily mean violating a code of ethics, but balancing the risk and reward of a tactic.
The White Hat SEO industry defines SEO
in broader terms that uses technique like link building, competitor research,
backlinking, keyword analysis, content creation for human readers and gaining
an understanding of how the search engine functions. Both White Hat and Black
Hat SEO go beyond Google’s standard definition of search engine optimization
and work up to and across the line that Google has defined.
2. Black Hat SEOs are Short term thinkers:
Black Hat SEO takes month of planning
and analysis to execute a plan that results in enormous profits. This might
lead some white hats to believe that black hats are short term thinkers.
However, Black Hat SEO is in a constant state of planning and creation and
though this business model violates Google’s guidelines, it does not violate
any law. Black Hat SEO is however in a higher state of adversarial tension with
3. Black Hats are hackers:
Black Hats violates the search engines
term of service but does not break any laws. A hacker is a person who violates
laws and does not practice SEO. Black Hats are most certainly not criminals or
4. Short Term Ranking by Black Hats as a business model:
White hats usually accuse the black hat
strategies as a failure as these strategies, also called Churn and Burn are
short term strategies. This strategy of generating a website, monetizing it and
then getting penalized (burned), might indicate the fact that it is a poor
strategy. This however is not a strategy, but a business model, which is based
on cashing in on the opportunity, when it is readily available.
5. Search Engines like Google make black hat SEO pointless:
Search engines like Google have made
huge progress against aggressive SEO strategies, but it is a fact that many
SEOs claiming themselves to be white hats are also spamming Google and getting
away with it. Both white hats and white hats use the strategy of scaling up SEO
and creating hundreds of pages of content and e-mailing a database of millions
of web publishers. White SEOs also pay to be listed in major newspapers and pay
for testimonial to build trust among users and to create a brand popularity
that results well in the search engine. Some low level black hat strategies are pointless, but many
strategies do work as well.
6. Black Hat
SEO is unethical:
To show themselves in a positive light, White hat SEOs like to paint black hat SEO techniques as unethical. It is an unethical practice to use Black Hat SEO on behalf of an unknowing client. If everyone was to go by Google’s guidelines, all SEOS would be termed as black hat SEOs as Google’s definition is limited to making a site easy to crawl and making sure that the content is of good quality.
SEO industry’s classification of SEO tactics based on the 3
colored hats: black, grey and white is
misleading and is stopping you from becoming the best SEO. Google uses certain
Webmaster Guidelines, according to which any link or activity which manipulates
to improve Google ranking is a scheme is a black hat. So, if you making efforts
to optimize your website for search engines, then you most definitely are
carrying black hat tactics. Every SEO, be it white, black or grey attempts to influence
Googles’s assessment of the site in hope of getting higher rankings. So, even a
white hat SEO is a black hat.