Whitehat SEO Versus Blackhat SEO: What Are They?

by AbsoluteWebServices

Find out the difference between whitehat and blackhat SEO and learn which is most effective for your small business web design.

If you're at all familiar with search engine optimization you've probably heard the terms whitehat SEO and black hat SEO tossed around. So, what are they exactly? There are many ways to perform search engine optimization and some people refer to these techniques using the hat terminology. White hat SEO is considered the most ethical and effective SEO while blackhat SEO is generally viewed as unethical and tricky SEO. There is also grayhat SEO, which just combines both practices.

Image credit: Miralize at Flickr

Here's a look at these two views about search engine optimization and which one is most effective to incorporate in your small business web design.

What is Whitehat SEO?

White hat SEO is the most accepted way to perform search engine optimization and it's accepted by all search engines. White hat SEO helps search engines crawl a website and determine what it's about. This practice is also helpful to website visitors. A whitehat SEO web development company basically tries to improve the ranking of your website in a way that's accepted by search engines and won't cause any penalties. While this practice is much slower and on-going, it is more effective.

What is Blackhat SEO?

Black Hat SEOBlackhat SEO uses tricks and unsavory methods that are considered unacceptable to search engines in an attempt to improve a website's ranking. Blackhat SEO does not offer any benefit to website visitors and is done only to make a website appear more popular than it really is.

Image credit: Massy Biagio at Flickr

So why do some web development companies use black hat SEO methods? First, they do work -- for a while. Search engines, most notably Google, have algorithms in place that identify black hat SEO so the benefits don't last long. Secondly, many people don't understand the difference between these two SEO techniques and don't realize that blackhat SEO can get their website banned or penalized. It's even possible for your competitors to spot your shady practices and report your website to search engines as well.

WhiteHat SEO vs BlackHat SEO
WhiteHat SEO vs BlackHat SEO

Blackhat versus Whitehat SEO: Examples

Here's a look at the ways a whitehat versus a blackhat SEO web development company would incorporate their techniques in your small business web design.

Page elements - Blackhat SEO companies will use doorway pages, entry pages or portal pages that are designed to spam the search engines by overloading a single keyword phrase. These entry pages are designed to grab traffic for this keyword and then direct visitors to the actual site. These sites are almost always penalized or banned by search engines. Whitehat SEO would instead employ SEO-friendly headings in the content that incorporate chosen keywords and break up content in a way that's easy to digest.

Linking - Black hat SEO usually employs a practice known as link farming, which involves exchanging links with a lot of websites to make the website appear more popular. This is done to boost the site's ranking by fooling the search engine. White hat SEO involves using inbound linking by creating high-quality content that people want to link to. It can also involve techniques like guest blogging on relevant blogs in your industry.

Content - Blackhat SEO often involves trying to hide content, like creating a long block of keywords in white text on a white background or hiding keywords with comment tags. Both techniques are very easy for a search engine to spot and result in penalties and banning. A good whitehat SEO web development company would instead focus on high-quality content that focuses on carefully chosen keyword phrases that aren't over-used.

Meta Tags - Blackhat SEO would use keyword stuffing or spamming in the meta tags rather than chosen a single keyword phrase that represents the business. Keyword stuffed meta tags are not effective to draw in visitors and don't work to fool search engines, either.

When you hire a web development company that uses blackhat SEO to optimize and promote your small business web design, it's very likely that Google and other search engines will penalize or even ban your website for unethical practices, spamming or trying to use backdoor tricks. Always take the time to ask about the SEO practices of any web design company you're planning to hire to make sure they're going to use approved methods that will help your business get ahead. 

Updated: 09/28/2012, AbsoluteWebServices
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