If you or your company is just starting into the world of SEO, you have probably heard the terms “white hat” and “black hat” SEO thrown around quite a bit. You probably realize that these aren’t literal terms andyou have made the connection between “white hat” being one of the good guys. What is the difference between white hat and black hat SEO, and what do these phrases mean specifically for your digital marketing strategy?
White hat SEO is when you completely follow Google’s rules for search engine optimization. White hat SEO tactics are primarily aimed at a human audience rather than search engine robots, and the end goal of white hat SEO is for the website at hand to rise in the search engine rankings in a natural, ethical manner. This means the creation of high quality content, researching and using appropriate keywords, structuring your site so that it’s easily understandable, and creating a website with a great user experience. These are all white hat SEO tactics; these strategies are most effective when experienced digital marketers take the reins and help increase your digital presence. However, those who want their search engine rankings to dramatically rise in no time at all, may find white hat SEO a little frustrating. The white hat SEO process takes time and effort, which is why some websites turn to black hat SEO.
Black hat SEO promises to move your site to the top of the SERPs practically overnight. Google’s Panda and Penguin updates have weeded out most black hat SEO tactics, but shady strategies like paying for links and joining link networks still exist. They may seem tempting at first, but ultimately, these techniques will lead to a Google penalty. And to be penalized by Google is not a place you want to be- your site can fall drastically in the site rankings or even be de-indexed. It’s happened to BMW and JCPenney, and chances are, it’ll happen to your site too if you engage in black hat SEO. All your hard work will go down the drain, and you’ll be back at SEO Square One.
When choosing your SEO agency, asking if they ever engage in the afore-mentioned black tactics can save you some major time, money, and headaches down the line. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. By keeping your audience at the forefront of your mind, you’ll be able to craft your website and its content to be aligned with Google’s webmaster guidelines. As the saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing right; by engaging in white hat SEO, you’ll be setting your website up for long-term success.