Ever since search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing first started becoming popular, web sites have gone through the various trial and error efforts for figuring out what causes some websites to get greater visibility than other websites. Over time, there have been a number of tactics created that if followed correctly, can lead to successful search engine optimization strategies.
The kicker is, depending on your tactic, your search engine optimization strategies could be viewed as clean or “white hat SEO” or dirty - “black hat SEO”.
The Difference between white hat, black hat, and gray hat SEO
- White Hat SEO – For the honest web optimizers, white hat SEO is simply performing known onsite and offsite optimization tactics that search engines encourage. This means staying away from pretty much anything that can be referred to as a spammy or seaky technique.
- Black Hat SEO – Web optimizers are shunned by search engines with the title of black hat SEO artists when they diliberately use tactics that search engines regard as dirty tactics. This might include many of the various tools out there that state “Make thousands instantly online!”. Pretty much any of the annoying websites that provide no substantive value but still get search engine visibility have used black hat SEO to gain their positions.
- Gray Hat SEO – For those gray areas that are in-between clearly going against the morals behind white hat SEO or sticking with only the perceived “legal tactics”. Honestly, most SEO optimization can fall into the gray area at times. When you find something that works for you, usually you try to exploit the concept as much as possible. As soon as you start exploiting concepts, you have already begun the slippery slope to automating and entering into full black-hat SEO optimization.
Is it a moral issue?
Whether you or your company performs black hat seo, gray hat seo, or white hat seo usually does have some literal risks involved, but ultimately, under many gray hat techniques there are not many literal penalties delivered. This often makes people think that whether they try a gray hat technique is ultimately a moral issue. Could they look themselves in the eye and say, “My SEO techniques are legitimate.”
Our experience has shown that those with a quieter conscience are more likely to attempt and possibly stick to gray hat or black hat SEO. On the other hand, those with a loud moral conscience will attempt to remain in a white hat SEO area.
Thus insues the ongoing debate on whether or not your SEO tactics should stick in white hat or black hat.
What difference does it make?
In our opinion, there is a major difference between a company that strives to gain search engine visibility in legitimate manners as compared to those forcing their website value to search engines. Ultimately, a company that spends the time progressing a site no matter what the time ultimately goes through so many trial and errors that by the time they attain strong search engine visibility, they have created a website worth visiting.
Through the lengthy trial and error stages gaining search engine ranking, these websites will hit a tipping point. A place where they all of a sudden are seen as valuable for what they provide. As soon as they hit that tipping point, they begin to gain momentum and keep progressing upward solidifying their future successes.
Yes, black hat SEO does “work”. If you consider “work” meaning to help get you to the first page of google for various keywords for a short period of time. Short period of time being the key phrase here. What black hat SEO leaves at risk is two things. One, you could get penalized by Google, Yahoo, or Bing as they recognize your techniques and consider them fraudulant. Ultimately, the penalties to include decrease in ranking or even delisting.
How does it effect adsense?
If your website monitazation is based on adsense, you want to be clear that google and adsense specificaly speak out against a number of SEO tactics that they consider black hat techniques. Not only could your website(s) get banned from search engines, but your adsense account could get cancelled and your payout may not be delivered. A major risk if this is a significant part of your site monotization.
Stick to Creating Great Content and Quality Site Experiences, Every Time
If you always think of the user experience first, your end result is likely going to fit within a white hat search engine optimization plan. It is extremely unlikely that your users are going to be excited to read or experience the quality behind many of the black hat SEO techniques. If your goal is to trick the search engines in to making them believe you are bigger or more relavant than you actually are, the satisfaction of user experience is going to decline. The natural links and growth of your website will never actually occur.
If you focus on white hat SEO techniques and focus on providing a positive user experience on any of the website branches, your site will naturally gain reputability. With the weight of social media preferences beginning to play a role in site ranking, it is extremely important to remember a postitive user experience for gaining long term importance and trust, not only from your users but from search engines.