The Differences between SEO White Hat and SEO Black Hat

In SEO their is a moral “good and bad.” Which side do you choose?

On one hand their is the good “Google Doctrine”, in which the principles contained in their guidelines  (the so-called quality guidelines ), which are known as White Hat Techniques, are followed.


While on the other side there are black hat methods which use shortcuts to accelerate the process to achieve visibility in search engines. We can even add a third player in this game, an intermediate point, called Gray Hat.


What is Black Hat SEO?

The term Black Hat,  has its origin in the mythical films of the West, where the villains wore black hats, while the heroes wore white hats. In SEO, these “villains” would be those that cheat the search engines in some way, to get the best rankings in a short time. Using some tricks that I will tell you in this article.

It is about reducing the costly work to the maximum and the time it usually takes to obtain popularity in search engines. More than thinking about the user, it is about persuading search engines to place your website above the competition.

Of course, with the risk that at any time you can be penalized by Google. There have always been penalties throughout Google’s history, and they’re most likely not going away. Especially in the last decade, as competition online increases and these practices become widespread. Sometimes it is a sudden drop in rankings, where the algorithms themselves detect the “trick” and stop showing your page in the results. Other times they are manual penalties, and you find a surprise in your Google Search Console account, where they notify you.


Black Hat SEO Techniques

These are some of the typical Black Hat SEO strategies, which are used or historically used to manipulate the rankings.

Keyword Stuffing

This technique consists of overusing a keyword (keyword stuffing). It is about unnecessarily repeating a certain keyword in the texts of your website. It does not matter that when the user reads the content, it seems to be reading something written by a robot. The idea is to increase the prominence of the main term so that your results are viewed as the most relevant.


Hidden content

Oddly enough, the hidden text technique was very successful when it first came out. It consists of hiding user text or links within the source code of your website, for example, camouflaging it with the background of your site. With this technique, you could repeat the keywords to be seen artificially, without the user seeing it.

Advice! Google will give you a penalty…



It consists of directing the search engines to a different page from the one shown to the users. This practice was also widespread years ago, when other techniques such as keyword stuffing still worked and it did not make much sense to show users the same thing that was wanted by search engines (a page only thought for SEO).


Spam links

I do not know if you’ve ever put this technique into practice, but I bet you’ve seen it several times on a blog. It is about placing links completely out of context on the page you want to rank and using (whenever possible) the keyword to rank it as the anchor text. Surely you have found among the comments of a blog or the thread of a forum, the typical comment where they manage to include a link with the anchor text “SPAMMED”, without coming to mind.

This technique made many sites fall with the update of Google Penguin 2.0 years ago. Not because of the comment itself, but because of the anchor text (and the abuse of it on different websites) of the link, designed to achieve relevance for that term. Best of all, is that they tend to be very curated comments, like the classic  “Congratulations on your post.”


What is White Hat SEO

Now that you know the dark side of SEO, you will imagine that White Hat SEO is one in which the techniques used meets the quality guidelines of the major search engines. For me, this strategy is the most optimal, because in the end it is based on authority (quality links). That has to do with something that is often forgotten in SEO: The ultimate goal is to sell.

If your product isn’t up to snuff no one will want it. On the other hand, if your product is good, do not be afraid to make it known and make the effort that is necessary. Because in the long run it will be easier to keep you. I always say that the Law of Gravity acts on Google: “What goes up quickly can go down even faster.” White Hat allows you to live with the peace of mind that you will not fall with the entire team from one day to the next. You don’t have to live in fear of a penalty.

The results of White Hat SEO are usually obtained in the long term. It is based on the quality of the product, service or content offered and the natural mentions obtained from other web pages. Which is a process that always requires time and effort.

Two basic tips:

  • Content is key
  • The user is #1

White Hat SEO Techniques

Onpage optimization

To put it into practice, you have to optimize each of the pages that make up your website. What does this mean? That all your pages must offer unique content, that provides added value for a concrete concept about the rest, that is perfectly understandable by the the search engine robots and offers a good experience for the user. The typical problems to solve are:


It is essential that you first identify the keywords that interest you and use them with common sense in the pages you want to offer for each of them.


Quality Content Generation

This should be the pillar of your White Hat SEO strategy, as well as of your digital marketing strategy. Often, you should publish quality content that interests your users. Through that, you can get great natural links (instead of buying them) to your website to improve your rankings.

As I said, you have to be patient. The fruits take time to arrive and the content needs time to show up in the search engines. The quality of your content will not only improve the rankings, but will increase the value of your brand, bringing you closer to your target audience.



Inbound Links

As I say, it is essential that you connect quality links to your website. These links allow users to reach your page from other websites and help search engines track the pages. Link building is one of the daily workhorses in the world of SEO, and the concept of “inbound links” changes the paradigm of building links (making them yourself) by attracting them (getting others to link to you through the quality of your content). So this point and the previous one are intimately related.


Optimizing the user experience

If the user experience that comes to your website is good, they will keep browsing your site and will click on your results the next time you see it. This way, it sends positive signals to search engines, that your content is more relevant than the competition.

Little by little (you know, patience) you will gain more and more authority, ranking more and more content until you reach the visibility that you are after. Remember the user is the key.

That is why it is important that you take care of the design of your site. Sometimes, they are small touches: colors, menus organization (silos),, typographies, sizes, texts, etc. The most important thing is that your website transmits what fits best with your target audience.


What is Gray Hat SEO

Halfway between the two previous strategies is Gray Hat SEO. We could say that their are methods that do not technically break Google’s guidelines, but neither follow them 100%. It is difficult for Google to penalize you using these techniques because, unlike Black Hat SEO, processes are not automated. In this way, Google has a very difficult time identifying SEO manipulation patterns.

Keep in mind that on the internet there are many websites looking to rank for the same keywords as you. So sometimes it will not be enough for you to be the best and you will have to value bending the rules, in order to stay competitive.

Gray Hat SEO Techniques

These are some of the techniques that move between good and evil to shorten the path, and that I believe can work better.


Purchased links with natural patterns

As I was saying, unlike Black Hat SEO these purchased links will be generated manually (instead of automated) to change the artificial patterns for a more natural dynamic. Links where the anchor text is natural (instead of using the exact keyword you use a variation of this) and the destination page is a powerful content for your website; links that come from different domains and IPs and that are created progressively in the time as new content is published, they follow a natural scheme for the search engines.



Spun content is basically taking unique content and “spinning” it to make it look original. The idea is to change parts of the text, phrases or words to say the same but without literally copying the content. Although there are programs that carry out this type of work in an automated way, what works well is the “rehash technique,” that is, to use contents from various well-ranked sources and adapt them with your own words to publish on your website.

Rewriting the content will be unique to Google. What they also call “content cure” in a semi-automated mode, counting on a manual work phase to a greater or lesser extent. If you take good reference content and improve it, you’ll be able to move up in the search easily.


Now you know the different types of ranking techniques that you can follow with your website. Now you are the one who decides if you prefer to be among the “villains”
or “heroes” or just wear a gray hat!

What I recommend is that you never try to avoid work, you always experiment, you use different techniques and that you base everything on continuous improvement. If you have something interesting to offer (product, service, content) and use as many promotional channels as possible (social networks, email marketing and advertising etc.) you will be able to grow your brand.

What do you think?

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Post Author
Lucy Orloski
Lucy Orloski, Content Community Manager in SEOHeights, a Canada based digital marketing company, has worked in a number of capacities in marketing since 2008. She provides consultancy for increasing traffic through search engines, social media, email marketing and improving the site and page conversion rates to increase sales using existing visitor traffic. If you want to increase traffic, sales or want branding of your business then contact me

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