White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO, what does all this mean? It is exactly what it sounds like, white hat techniques are ethical and honest, whereas black hat are often below board and can severely damage the rankings and reputation of a business in the online world.
It goes without saying that the search engines prefer the use of ethical practices to gain rankings, which is exactly why the algorithms are constantly changing. The changes in algorithms are meant to enhance the user experience, which in turn will weed out black hat techniques. This is exactly why some sites will shoot up in the rankings for a short period of time and then be back at the bottom of the barrel within a few months. In this instance, someone was likely using black hat techniques to get short term gains and this happens for a variety of different reasons. It could be a company that over promised the customer on the timeline of results, or an inexperienced person making bad calls, or even a business owner with a DIY attitude doing things he/she doesn’t realize is actually hurting rather than helping. Whatever the reason, white hat techniques will be best for any business, because you are investing in long term results rather than long term gains. Think of black hat as the athlete using steroids that then gets disqualified, whereas white hat is the athlete that spent hours in the gym putting in the work to get the results they desired.
Regardless as to who is doing SEO work for your website, below are some techniques that should be avoided at all cost if you value your rankings. Be sure to ask the company doing work for you specifically what work that they will be completing to get you results. Also, ask for realistic time frames for the project. Most projects, like all good things, take time and hard work. If someone is promising immediate results, dig deeper because black hat techniques will be detrimental to your rankings and after all it’s just good business to do things as ethically as possible.
Cloaking: This technique will display different content to the search engine and the visitor. This allows for the SEO expert to insert many keywords that only the search engine will see and the visitor will see different content.
Duplicate Content: Some sites will use duplicate content, which is essentially SPAMMED. This could be duplicate content on the same site or content copied from another site. This technique could get you banned from some search engines.
Irrelevant Keywords: If keywords are used in the Meta Tags that are not actually used in the webpage, this is a surefire way to get your site kicked down in the rankings.
Linking to Bad Neighborhoods: Before linking to sites make sure they are quality sites. Do not link to sites that are SPAMMING or using other Black Hat techniques. This could surely cause your rankings to drop as well. Just like Mom told you, “you are who you hang out with”.
Hidden Text: There are many ways to accomplish this black hat tactic and none of them should be used. Your user should be able to easily read all content on the page. There should be no tiny text or text that is the same color as the background so users can not see it. This is an obviously intentional act and the site will likely be knocked down in rankings.
Multiple Page Titles: This can happen accidentally or intentionally, either way make sure each page on the site only has one title. Double check to make sure this is not the case with your site, otherwise just as with keyword stuffing it can have negative consequences for your site.
As stated in the previous example with the athlete, black hat techniques can get short term results for your site, but at a serious cost. SEO is not SPAM and should not be treated as such. White hat processes will get your site long term rankings and keep it there, but you need to make sure you understand exactly what you are doing or at least ask the right questions of the company doing the work for you. A quality SEO program should involve good quality content, not using SPAM type tricks and unethical practices. Use the list above as a reference when hiring an SEO company and make sure they are not practicing any of these techniques on your site, otherwise it could be money down the drain.