What is the difference between white hat and black hat search engine optimization? In a nutshell, the white-hat strategy focuses on quality search engine optimization techniques whereas the black hat strategy focuses on unethical or “adversary” tactics to optimize website performance. There are pros and cons to both strategies, so it is important to know what the difference is before making your final decision on which one to use for your own website. We will go over the pros and cons of both strategies and provide you with an SEO comparison chart to help you make this important decision.
The primary difference between the two strategies lies in the methods used to optimize a website. White hat strategies take longer to implement than black hat strategies, but they usually yield more permanent results. With white hat optimization, you will generally need to monitor your rankings on a regular basis in order to keep them consistent. However, in the long run, this proves to be less costly since organic traffic tends to convert better than paying traffic.
Black hat SEO works quite differently. Usually, these techniques will push your website right out the gate with little to no SEO work behind it. This can lead to dramatic surges in traffic after a short period of time, but if your site’s content is not properly optimized, it could take even longer to realize any benefits, if it does at all.
The biggest difference between the two strategies lies in how quickly rankings can be affected. With white hat SEO, you could see an immediate increase in ranking based on the amount of time it takes you to do maintenance such as backlinking and optimizing content. Since most people understand the value of white hat SEO, this shouldn’t be too hard of a concept for most webmasters.
The downside of these techniques, however, is that they have more risk involved in them. While they might help you get onto page one of search results, there’s always the chance that you won’t be able to maintain rankings for long. At the same time, you could find that your competitors are overtaking you just because they used these techniques in a hurry. If these techniques prove unfeasible, you could find yourself with an even worse problem: your competitors are moving up the ranks at record-breaking speeds while you struggle to maintain yours.
In terms of effectiveness, this strategy relies on content. It might seem difficult to make content relevant to the search engines, but if you use the right tools and take the time to write truly useful content, you should be able to succeed. The most basic tool you should use is a keyword relevancy tool. These tools look closely at the words in your site’s URL and rank them based on their relevancy. If the keywords in your niche are all over the place, or nearly so, you will want to revise your approach.
An alternative to keyword relevancy is keyword density, another consideration when thinking about white hat SEO versus black hat SEO. A site that has too few relevant keywords will appear less natural and will likely suffer from low rankings. This is one of the more subtle differences between these two strategies. You need to be sure that you aren’t simply cutting out keywords because you think they’ll make your site more successful. Instead, you should choose keywords intelligently and strategically.
Of course, ranking high in search engines isn’t the only benefit that using these methods will bring you. These techniques are also more reliable since they are less likely to be manipulated or abused. While it might not seem logical that ranking high would equate to more sales, studies show that consumers who are offered the choice between two products (a la Google AdSense) tend to purchase the higher ranking product. While it might not make sense on the surface, the logic behind this strategy makes sense once you look at the results.