If you're either in the world of SEO, know anything about it, or are looking for ways to improve your own, you've probably heard the terms "white hat" and "black hat" thrown around.
So what exactly do they mean, and why does it matter?
Because in SEO, there are some things you absolutely do not want to do. These are black hat SEO tactics. The main reason these tactics are a no-go is because they are things Google actively seeks out to penalize.
White hat tactics on the other hand are the SEO tactics Google rewards. These are the things you want to do with your SEO to help improve it without the extreme level of risk black hat tactics bring.
So what are a few examples of each?
Black Hat SEO tactics:
1. Foreign or inappropriate backlinks
Believe it or not, this is actually incredibly common. This can be everything from posting your site's link in Russian chatrooms to actually posting links on websites with adult content. The links can be easy to get, but Google does not like them one bit. Getting links from these sources can seriously hurt your SEO by giving Google a direct line from sites it blacklists to yours.
2. Keyword stuffing
This is the practice of shoving keywords into your website content. An example would be if your site is for appliance repair, you have a section on your site that looks like this:
"appliance repair los angeles refrigerator repair los angeles oven repair los angeles stove repair los angeles..."
Starting every sentence with the same keyword in a paragraph because you want to increase its frequency on your page:
"Appliance repair Los Angeles is committed to providing only the best service to our clients with our great industry expertise. Appliance repair Los Angeles is a big need, because since appliances aren't invincible, sometimes you need a qualified technician to come repair those minor breakdowns that happen from heavy use. With our crew that specializes in appliance repair Los Angeles, you know you'll get great service every time..."
Keyword stuffing is never a good idea because Google views it as spam. To them, this is trying to game the algorithm by throwing the keyword frequency into the stratosphere and hoping to get rewarded for it. Instead, it can hurt your SEO by giving Google an excuse to penalize you. Make the content natural and organic. If it stays relevant and has the right length, you'll have no problems achieving the right keyword frequency and placement.
Website content should read like a presentation.
This is another common way to cheat the system. Cloaking is the act of presenting one thing to Google for the sole purpose of improving search rankings, but then presenting something completely irrelevant to the customer.
Google again sees it as a deception of their algorithm.
White Hat SEO tactics:
1. High quality, professional content
Content is extremely important to website ranking, so developing high quality, relevant, organic content for your web pages is essential to improving your search results.
Google is a business. They want to provide the best quality results to their customers. That means results that are relevant and authoritative to the search.
High quality content will help you fall into this category. That includes keywords, but letting them fall into the content organically rather than forcing them.
2. High quality backlinks
Google likes backlinks, just not ones that look sketchy.
Finding links from quality sources that aren't linked to spam or inappropriate content will help you increase your search rankings exponentially. This can be done in a variety of ways, but as long as the links coming in are not going to send red flags to Google in terms of the source or the content, you're good to go.
3. Good on-page SEO
This encompasses a lot of categories. On-page SEO includes your title tags, meta descriptions, meta tags, keyword placement/frequency, and more.
Doing this properly, without stuffing and spamming the algorithm will help improve your standing with Google while helping your customers see your content is relevant to them.
Essentially, the white and black hat divide comes down to the quality of work being done. Just like in most areas of life, Google rewards honest work.
If you're wanting to improve your SEO the right way, white hat is always the way to go. Black hat tactics will absolutely catch up with you and your site's search rankings can be significantly impacted as a result.
Hope you enjoyed this Tuesday Tip!