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Patricia O'Loughlin
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Word concubine since 1989.
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White Hat vs. Black Hat: What Does Your SEO Crusade Look Like?

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You may or may not have heard the terms ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’ flung around in the world of SEO. If you have – bravo, feel free to skip this post and be on your merry way. If you haven’t, we highly encourage you to take a moment to wrap your head around these concepts. After all, they can often be the make-or-break of your SEO strategy.

So without any further ado, let’s get into the nitty gritty of it.

What’s the difference between white hat and black hat SEO?

The best way to convey these concepts is to paint a brief analogy. White hat SEO can be considered the superhero, while black hat is comparable to the evil villain.

White hat is about applying creative, meaningful, transparent strategies that are grounded in value and driven by the audience’s needs and desires. Black hat SEO revolves around employing sketchy, behind-the-scenes techniques, with the ultimate goal being to reap in the ranks.

In a nutshell, white hat SEO is audience-oriented, while black hat SEO is search engine centric.

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While optimisation tactics are certainly a critical pillar of SEO, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about them. This is where the line is drawn between white hat and black hat SEO.

What does white hat SEO look like?

  • Typical elements: researched data, thorough analysis, relevant meta tags, quality optimised content.
  • Forecasted results: A website that ticks all the boxes in Google’s eyes while providing a positive user experience. It is therefore likely to garner healthy, long-lasting search engine rankings.

How about black hat?

  • Typical elements: backlinks, keyword-stuffing, invisible text, blog comment spam.
  • Forecasted results: Incurrence of penalties for not adhering to Google’s guidelines. This may mean webpages are slapped with lower rankings, de-indexed or completely banned.

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So, in summary…

SEO is not quite a science, not quite an art: it’s a skilful combination of both. It is the marriage of technical coding and content marketing to create high-quality digital advertising material that satisfies the logistics of Google as well as the emotional appeal of an audience. While black hat SEO techniques can be a tempting way to get quick ranks, Google is a bit of a sensitive sort (at least as much as an android can be). By this, I mean that it is considerate of its users – it doesn’t want to lead audiences to dodgy webpages filled with content that provides no value. Consequently, it is paramount to your online success that you remain smart and pure with your SEO tactics, lest you risk ending up in Google’s bad books.

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By Patricia O'Loughlin


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