SEO: The Difference Between Black Hat and White Hat

You’ve probably read umpteen articles that bang on about black and white hat search engine optimisation techniques.

Understand them?

Do you know what’s good and what’s not?

There is a lot of confusing material out there so here’s a quick run down of what’s good (i.e. white hat) and what’s bad (i.e. black hat) in the world of SEO.

Let’s start with the bad stuff.

Black Hat

Black hat is all the stuff that Google hates that if used will generate a heft penalty.

1. Bad content

This encompasses anything that’s written for the search engines and keyword stuffed or automatically generated content that is meaningless drivel produced by various software programmes. Don’t use either.

2. Links

Never buy, sell, exchange or dabble in automated link building activities. Links should always be earned through creating high quality content.

3. Hidden links and text

Text hidden behind images, white text on a white background, tiny fonts and hidden links (i.e. linking a hyphen rather than a word) will lead you into trouble.

4. Scraping

This is republishing articles from other sites without permission and pretending they’re your own.

5. Redirects

In the past people would create text-heavy web pages that were crammed with keyword-stuffed content written for the search engines. When clicked on, they redirected the user elsewhere.

White Hat

White hat is all about optimising your website for your audience. These activities are aimed at improving user experience and not manipulating the search results.

1. Content

It must be relevant, useful and written naturally. Plus, it produced regularly so there’s always something fresh on your website (e.g. by adding a blog).

2. Links (internal)

These are links to other content within your website. They are designed to enhance your reader’s experience by taking them to other relevant information within your website.

Only use a couple or so within your content so you don’t bombard your reader and make sure you use relevant anchor text.

3. Link earning

Every website that links to yours is like a vote. The more votes you get, the higher you rank. But these links must be natural and earned.

4. Navigation

At the top of your website (or down one side) will be your navigation helping your readers find their way around your website. These should incorporate your keywords.

5. Tags and titles

META descriptions and keywords are no longer important, but your title tags are. The tag you use should accurately describe your page whilst using your keywords (but without stuffing).

6. META description

Yes, I know I said this was no longer important and from an SEO point of view their not. But they come into their own for the user when your website is listed in the search results. It is this description that will help the user make a decision about which website to look at.

7. Images

The search engines can’t read images, but they can read the Alt tag that goes with them. Make sure your tags are meaningful and relevant.

8. Anchor text

This is the word or phrase you use to link out to another page of your website. It should utilise your keywords, but naturally, built within a phrase.

To make sure you don’t go wrong simply make sure that everything you do is for your reader and not the search engines.

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