You might wonder what hats have to do with SEO, but if you have a website or a blog and try your best to get a high ranking in the search engines, you will sooner or later hear about White Hat and Black Hat SEO.
White Hat and Black Hat SEO is about the strategies and methods you use to appear at the top among the search results. White Hat is the term for when you use ethical methods and follow the guidelines the search engines have set forth. Black Hat is the term for using unethical tricks to cheat your way to a better ranking.
White Hat SEO
Search engines want their users to have a good experience with their product, which is why they constantly update their search algorithms and promote relevant, legitimate, and trustworthy search results. If you want a good ranking while still using White Hat SEO, these are a couple of methods you can use.
- Create unique, high-quality content in a longer format. Publish new content regularly.
- Use relevant search terms in your texts.
- Get linked to. When many other websites link to your site, it is seen as a plus for your site.
- Have a website that is designed and constructed well and make sure it is easy to navigate with clear titles, title tags, and meta descriptions.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO is when you use dubious methods to gain a higher ranking. In essence, these are tricks to fool the search engines’ algorithms. Algorithms are constantly updated to discover and weed out websites using Black Hat methods, so these tactics are constantly changing. These are a couple of examples of Black Hat SEO:
- Cloaking: A method where search engines see another version of the site than the one visitors see, making the search engines rank it higher than they otherwise would.
- Keyword stuffing: Filling the text with as many search terms as possible to get a better ranking. This results in texts that are difficult to read. It is generally recommended that you should not have more than 4 % of your texts as search terms.
- Hidden search terms: Fill a site with search terms, then hide them from your visitors using CSS or by coloring them to blend in with the background.
- Copying and article spinning: An old trick where you find a well-ranked article and then steal it word for word and publish it on your own site. This kind of theft is now punished by search engines, so a new trick has emerged where people steal text and run it through software that changes words to synonyms, making the text appear as unique for the search algorithms.
Choose the Light, Avoid the Dark
It might feel tempting to use the shortcuts of Black Hat methods, promising you fast and efficient results, but these results are in general short-lived. The search engine algorithms are constantly changing and discover cheap tricks all the time. The punishment for breaking the search engines’ guidelines is a complete removal from the search. Fair work is always rewarded in the long-term.
In addition to the above, it’s not all about being visible in the search results. Publishing something online is also about reaching out to people and creating relationships. Black Hat SEO is all about writing for search engines rather than for people, often resulting in a horrible user experience. Perhaps you will get your 15 minutes of fame, but in the long run you will be remembered as a cautionary tale.