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White versus Gray – What SEO Hat are you wearing?

December 11, 2011 · 6 comments

in SEO

There are basically two types of “hats” people wear in SEO. Those who choose to be with the dark side and employ a myriad of strategies designed to dupe search engines into marking these as high quality websites and those who use approved SEO techniques. Black or gray hat SEO practitioners are those who carry bags full of tricks that could get websites ranked higher in half the time needed for good old SEO to power a website to the top.

White hat SEO professionals on the other hand are people that work with approved techniques of getting websites ranked higher naturally. These are people who work hard writing quality content and actively searches for ways of driving traffic to their websites. Those wearing black hats may hit milestones much quicker than their counterparts but white hat practitioners ultimately win followers to the side.

Black hat magicians are cunning. They carry bags full of tricks and bring SEO results with the flick of a finger. The geek is your average guy in front of a laptop. He does not have any of those clever tricks. But he has good strategies and hard work alongside. Most importantly, he has the “good stuff.” While the magician always hits the milestones first, it is the geek who ultimately triumphs. Why? Google and other search engines love him. He does not take shortcuts, unlike the magician.

White Hat SEO

White hat search engine optimization utilizes legitimate techniques in order to get traffic and earn rankings. Fundamentally, it involves creating high-quality content and linking with other genuine websites and directories. Notice that I wrote “creating” and not copying. White Hat SEO uses only original content: no grabbing, no copying, and no reposting. White hat strategies are all legitimate and done by humans.

  • Landing page – this is where users are redirected when they click a legitimate add. It should be relevant and informative.
  • Link wheels – articles link to each other and to your site. The interlinked articles form a wheel where your main site is the hub (since they all point to it).
  • Article submission – submitting helpful (non-sales pitch) articles to reputable sites like Squidoo or HubPages. PR submission also falls in this category.
  • Directory submission – submitting a site to reputable directories
  • Search engine optimized articles – no keyword stuffing, just the right keywords with their LSI equivalents.
  • Blog comments – uses commenting on forums or blogs to increase visibility.

 Black Hat SEO

 Black Hat SEO is a two-faced trick: what readers see first is something helpful and alluring. When they click on it, they get transported to another website and often tricked into viewing irrelevant content. Readers who click on black hat-generated links often find themselves being led from one page to another. The reason: most black hat results are generated by spam, poor and keyword dense content.

Hidden content, keyword spamming, and link farming are just some of the common black hat SEO strategies employed. Gateway pages are also common features. A gateway is a small page stuffed with keywords. They lead users to a website but they offer no real content at all.

Google has made quality an important factor in determining a website’s final ranking. Google’s Panda update earlier this year for example had wide ranging effects on how people practice SEO. The update blacklisted and de-ranked black hat websites. Soon, all black hat websites will be relegated to the bottom of search rankings. If your site has been using shady SEO strategies, it may have dipped in search engine rankings already. You may have to start over and shop for a lighter colored hat.

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Kim Willis is a Brisbane SEO consultant and works with online businesses. When he’s not writing for Brisbane Fences, he could be found writing about the advantages of using online strategies for home based businesses.

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