You probably already heard of SEO (search engine optimization) and how it is really important for search engine rankings and generating leads. But did you know that there is more than one type of SEO? That’s right. There are three SEO categories; namely White Hat, Gray Hat, and Black Hat SEO.
If you’re confused, don’t worry. Leave it to us to explain everything. Let’s start off by saying that the color distinctions relate to the ethical considerations of applying SEO. If white is the ‘cleanest,’ then grey is ‘somewhere in the middle,’ and back is ‘dirty’.
White Hat SEO
White hat SEO should be the standard for any brand or business. These practices satisfy Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and as such, cannot be disputed. The only downside to white hat SEO is that it may take considerable time to yield results. Of course, the results that it does yield are organic and thus far more advantageous in the long run.
White hat SEO includes practices such as content, on-site, and off-site SEO. In other words, these practices are user-oriented. If you have great original content on a website that is user-friendly, mobile-friendly, quick, and so on, you are applying white hat SEO practices.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO practices are far more unconscionable as compared to their white counterpart. The strategies used here yield practically instant results. However, that comes at the expense of potential deindexing by Google. The results of Black hat SEO practices are usually short-lived and damaging in the long run.
Black hat SEO includes practices such as spamdexing and plagiarism. Applying these practices also comes with the risk that Google may update its algorithm and close loopholes that black hat SEO exploits.
Grey Hat SEO
Grey hat SEO is the middle ground between the other two. It is neither wrong nor right. Gray hat SEO is fairly common as it doesn’t cross the line over to being exploitative like Black hat SEO, but it does employ sneaky practices.
Grey hat SEO includes practices such as paying for good reviews and cleverly rewritten articles. There is some disagreement about which category link-building falls into, but the consensus seems to be that it belongs in the grey zone. That is unless you are participating in link farms, which is undoubtedly black hat SEO.
As with any other industry, you will find people who argue for both sides. Depending on your business and goal, it is possible that black hat SEO practices suit you best. However, if you have long-term goals and are aiming for reliable, ethical practices, then white hat SEO is definitely the way to go. Remember, if it feels as though you are trying to cheat Google, Google will probably feel the same way.