In this post, we’ll explore the white hat vs black hat SEO question.
The goal here is to help you understand how black hat SEO and white hat SEO activities work to rank a website in Google and other search engines.
By knowing the difference between white hat SEO and black hat SEO, you can ensure you’re following the best search engine optimization practices to maintain the integrity, online rankings, and visibility of your website.
So let’s get into this complete white hat and black hat SEO comparison!
Table of Contents
White Hat vs Black Hat SEO
The main difference between white hat SEO and black hat SEO is that white hat SEO follows Google’s Webmaster guidelines while black hat SEO violates those guidelines. White hat vs black hat SEO is easy to compare because the techniques and strategies that target the search engine are much different.
What Is White Hat and Black Hat SEO?
White hat and black hat SEO are activities that optimize a website to rank higher on the search engine results pages. You can distinguish between white hat and black hat SEO by the techniques and strategies being used to target a human audience versus just the search engine algorithm.
White Hat SEO Activities
White hat SEO activities consist of search engine optimization practices that are good for the user experience.
The top methods for white SEO including:
- Writing Quality Content
- Choosing Relevant Keywords
- Following Good On-Page SEO Practices
- Using Optimized Internal Links
- Getting Natural (Organic) Inbound Links
- Having Fast Page Loading Times
- Prioritizing Mobile-Friendliness
You can learn more about these techniques in my guide that answers the question, “what is white hat SEO?“.
I also have a complete guide on how to build SEO strategy that includes a list of safe white hat methods.
Black Hat SEO Activities
Black hat SEO activities are based only on manipulating the search engine algorithm to get higher rankings and have no concern for the user experience.
The most common tactics for black SEO include:
- Using Invisible Text
- Creating Doorway Pages
- Doing Page Swapping
- Using Keyword Stuffing
- Practicing Cloaking
- Generating Blog Comment Spam
- Doing Content Automation
- Participating In Link Schemes
- Posting Duplicate Content
- Doing Article Spinning
- Abusing Structured Data and Rich Snippets
- Posting Fake Job Listings and Scholarships
You can learn more about these strategies in my guide that answers the question, “what is black hat SEO?“. Or, if you suspect a website is participating in black hat methods, then you can learn how to report black hat SEO to Google here.
Note: There’s also a blend of search engine optimization called grey hat SEO techniques. Grey hat SEO is not as safe as white hat but is less risky than black hat methods.
Difference Between White Hat and Black Hat SEO
The table below gives you a quick comparison of the difference between white hat and black hat SEO.
|White Hat SEO||Black Hat SEO|
|Follows Google’s Webmaster guidelines||Violates Google’s Webmaster guidelines|
|Good for the user experience||Bad for the user experience|
|Focused on quality content||Not focused on quality content|
|Improves website trust||Lowers website trust|
|Increases website authority||Decreases website authority|
|Achieves high rankings organically||Manipulates the algorithm for higher rankings|
|Long-term SEO strategy||Short-term SEO strategy|
|Safe optimization activities||Unsafe optimization activities|
|Satisfies the search intent||Does not satisfy search intent|
|Ethical techniques||Unethical techniques|
As you can see from this table, the most obvious reason for choosing white hat vs black hat SEO is that it provides more advantages to you as a website owner.
Next, we’ll go over some of those top benefits that white hat SEO can offer.
What Are the Advantages of White SEO Over Black SEO?
The advantages of white SEO over black SEO are a healthy website ranking, a marketing campaign that follows Google’s best practices, the benefit of more trust and authority, and a higher return on your search engine optimization efforts.
Healthy Website Ranking Advantage
The purpose of search engine optimization is to earn one of the top positions in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for your target keywords. (Read my post on what does SERP mean if you want a longer explanation of this acronym.)
And white SEO can help you get to one of those top 10 spots on the SEPRS in Google and keep it for the long term.
When you use white hat SEO methods, you’re building a healthy website that gets a ranking advantage over the long term. After hitting the first page of Google using white SEO activities, there’s a lower chance that your rankings will fall dramatically during an algorithm update.
Google’s core algorithm is always being updated to target black SEO activities that manipulate the search engine rankings and by following such practices you’ll never rank high for very long.
A Marketing Campaign That Follows Google’s Best Practices
Google has certain best practices in place to give every webmaster a fair advantage to rank in its SERPs. You can find them listed under Google’s Webmaster guidelines.
By using white SEO for your search marketing campaign, you’re staying well within those guidelines. And this keeps your site protected from manual and algorithmic penalties.
More Trust and Authority
Another advantage of white SEO over black SEO is that you’re building more trust and authority for your website.
Websites that get high rankings from white SEO activities earn more trust with Google because they’re following the webmaster quality guidelines. And sites that are more trusted gain higher authority in their industry, which makes it easier to rank for niche-related keywords.
Higher Return On Your SEO Efforts
A final advantage of white SEO is that it gives you a higher return on your search engine optimization efforts.
White hat SEO saves you more time and money over black hat SEO activities.
With black SEO, you’re constantly violating the guidelines and always on the verge of getting penalized. And when you do, you have to start all over again which wastes time and money. But with white SEO, you’re always following the rules, so you don’t have to worry about losing your rankings or getting penalized; the results of your work can last many months to years without issues.
Is White Hat SEO Illegal?
White hat SEO is not illegal. But not following the best practices can get your site banned from Google and other search engines. To do white hat SEO safely, it’s good to understand Google’s Webmaster guidelines so you can be in compliance with the search engine optimization rules.
Is Black Hat SEO Illegal?
While black hat SEO is not illegal, it does violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. By not following the rules, black hat SEO activities can result in a website being banned from the search engine and its affiliate sites.
Summary for White Hat vs Black Hat SEO
I hope you enjoyed this guide on white hat vs black hat SEO
As you discovered, the main difference between white hat SEO and black hat SEO is that white hat SEO follows Google’s Webmaster guidelines while black hat SEO violates them.
And while both white hat and black hat SEO can increase your rankings in the search engines, white hat SEO is the only activity that’s 100% safe from a penalty.
Therefore, if you want to keep your visibility and traffic for the long term, choosing white hat SEO techniques over black hat SEO strategies is the best choice for search engine optimization.