What is the difference between White Hat and Black Hat SEO?

You may wonder what hats and search engine optimization have to do with each other, but if you have a website or a blog, and make an effort to get as good a ranking as possible with the search engines, sooner or later you will come across the concepts of White Hat and Black Hat SEO.

It's about the strategies and methods used to get as high as possible in the search results. White Hat is when you use ethical practices that follow the guidelines of the search engines. Black Hat is the unethical tricks you can use to cheat your way to a better ranking. White Hat SEO Search engines want to provide the best possible experience for their users, and constantly update their search algorithms to highlight search results that are relevant, legitimate and credible. If you want to get a good ranking according to White Hat SEO, there are a number of methods you can use.

  • Create unique, high-quality content in longer formats. And publish new content regularly.
  • Use relevant keywords in the texts.
  • Get inbound links. The fact that many other websites link to your page is seen as a vote for the page.
  • Have a well-built and well-structured website that is easy to navigate, and has clear titles, descriptions, metadata, alt-texts, etc.

Black Hat SEO uses questionable methods to get better rankings, despite violating search engine guidelines. In general, these are tricks to fool search engine algorithms. The algorithms are constantly updated to detect and weed out sites that use Black Hat methods, so the tactics are constantly changing and becoming more sophisticated to stay ahead of the game. Here are some examples of Black Hat SEO:

  • Cloaking: a method whereby search engines see a different version of the page than the one visitors see, and are tricked into ranking it higher.
  • Keyword stuffing: filling the text with as many keywords as possible to get a better ranking. However, the result is that the text becomes difficult to read for the visitor. One recommendation is that keywords should not exceed 4% of the text.
  • Hidden keywords: filling a page with keywords, but hiding them from the visitors with CSS or by setting them in the same color as the background.
  • Copying and article spinning: an old trick if you found an article with a good ranking was simply to steal it outright for publication on your own site. Today, this type of theft is penalised by search engines, which highlight unique material, but a new trick is to take the stolen text and run it through a program that replaces the words with synonyms, so that the text appears as unique material in the search algorithms.

Choose the light and avoid the dark. It may seem tempting to use the lucrative shortcuts of Black Hat methods that promise quick and good results, but those results are usually short-lived. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, and are quick to spot the dirty tricks. The penalty for breaking search engine guidelines is to disappear from the search altogether. Getting it right always pays off in the long run. It is also about more than just being visible in the search engines. Publishing something online is about reaching out to people and creating relationships. Black Hat SEO is about writing for search engines instead of people. This usually sabotages the user experience. You may be seen for a short moment, but in the long run you will be remembered as something negative.


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