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White, Grey & Black Hat Practices in SEO

Owing to the rising importance of search engines like Google, SEO is a much in-demand internet marketing strategy. We know that search engine optimization or SEO is the process by which quality traffic of large volume to a site can be improved. However, as with all things in life has a good, fair and right way of doing things and a bad, unfair and naughty way of doing things, SEO too has its way. So let’s see what are the different seo hats.

If you are the one doing SEO, you must clearly know the following concepts :

  • Black Hat SEO
  • Grey Hat SEO
  • White Hat SEO

shades of seo hats

Image credit: Google Blogoscoped


Now you must be wondering, do SEO’s actually wear hats? No, we don’t actually wear any hats because Hats are just a term used in the search industry to explain tactics to those outside the industry.

So now that you understand that hats are just tactics, let’s get to know what does the different hat colors mean?




white hat seoWhite Hat depicts a 100% pure SEO practice. White Hat SEO refers to the use of creating content for users and not solely for the purpose of search engines. White hat SEO not only follows all SEO rules & guidelines but ensures that all content indexed by search engines is the same as the content that a human user will see. It focuses on readability, relevance and well-structured content that will help people to read effortlessly. Also, it focuses on cross-linking pages internally on a website wherever appropriate and build relevant inbound links from trusted sources.

Going white hat means going by the search engine’s rules and regulations. If you go by the rules of search engine, it is less likely that you’ll be affected when an update comes. Whit Hat SEO is also called called Ethical SEO.

Some of the techniques that are typically used in White Hat SEO include using keyword by keyword research, rewriting meta tags to be more relevant, back-linking, link building as well as writing readable content for human readers. Those practicing White Hat SEO are expected to make a long-term investment on their website.

Impatience, budget, and lack of understanding lead to the need for a gray hat plan.

Top 5 White Hat SEO Practice – Ethical SEO Hat

Let’s rush through the top 5 white hat SEO practices that will have a positive effect on your search position among the different seo hats practices:

  • Quality Content – There is nothing more valuable you can do to optimise your site for search engines than offer unique well written content.
  • Titles and Meta Data – Providing pages with proper titles and meta data is essential. The title of anything is a declaration as to what the content might be, so make sure your page titles are a true representation of the content of the page.
  • Keyword Research and Effective Keyword Use – Create your website with keywords and key phrases in mind. Use the keywords and key phrases you’ve identified effectively throughout your website.
  • Quality Inbound Links – Having inbound links to your website can be considered good. Good links are links from other web pages that are highly regarded by the search engines and are contextually relevant to the content of your page.
  • Internal Linking – By far one of the easiest way to help your website to rank well on search engines is to make it easier for search engines to make a way through it.



What is GREY HAT SEO ?


grey hat seoGrey Hat is something that neither belongs to White Hat nor Black Hat. Grey Hat SEO is the practice of technically using legal methods to improve your site rankings, but which are ethically unreliable, and could one day become a Black Hat method. A proper understanding of Gray Hat SEO is important because it could either improve your site’s ranking without negative consequences, or it could cost you loss in thousand of traffic. For example, click bait. Click bait refers to a practice where someone posts an eye catching link or a piece of content that encourages a reader to click and read more.

If not careful, grey hat can appear to slip into black hat SEO.

Top Grey Hat SEO Practice

Let’s rush through top 5 Grey Hat SEO practice among the different seo hats practices:

  • Three Way Link Exchange – Reciprocal links and link exchange has been the most widely used link building practice for years until Google made it more difficult devaluing such links in it’s algorithms.
  • Article Spinning – This is an SEO technique by which webmasters post a unique version of relevant content on their sites.
  • Buying old Domains – Some SEO’s buy old domains with authority and back-links, and use them to link back to the other sites they want to rank well in the search engines.
  • Buying Expired Domains – Some link spammers monitor DNS records for domains that will expire soon, buy them, link them when they expire and replace the pages with links to their pages. However, google resets the link data on expired domains.
  • Google Bombing – The terms Google Bomb and Google washing refers to practices such as creating large number of links that cause a web page to have higher ranking for searches on unrelated keyword phrases.




black hat seoBlack Hat SEO refers to the use of aggressive SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that focuses solely on search engine rankings and not a human audience. They usually include characteristics that break search engines’ rules and regulations, create poor user experience and unethically presented contents. Black hat SEO practices can yield quick results but there is a higher risk of penalty if discovered. It is a short-sighted solution to the long term implications which can be disastrous for your website and in turn your business.

So if you were using Google as your master, buying links would be considered black hat. If Bing is your master, something such as buying Facebook likes would be black hat.

Black hat tactics are generally the targets of Google updates such as Penguin and Panda and can be seriously detrimental to a site if they are discovered.

Some techniques used in black hat SEO include keyword stuffing, link farming, hidden texts and links and blog content spamming. Consequences of black hat SEO can possibly result in your site being banned from a search engine and de-indexed as a penalization for using unethical techniques. Therefore, to survive a black hat SEO practice is incredibly difficult because you have to get under the radar not to be discovered, and not to get your client fire bombed.

Top 5 Black Hat SEO Practices to Avoid

Let’s rush through the top 5 black hat SEO practices among the different seo hats practices:

  • Hidden Content – placing of keywords in white text on a white background in order to attract search engine spiders. Top in black hat seo practice list.
  • Spamdexing – practice of repeating unrelated phrases to manipulate the relevancy or prominence of resources indexed by a search engine.
  • Keyword Stuffing – practice of packing long lists of keywords without proper formation.
  • Doorway Pages – pages designed for search engines and not for the end user. This is a fake page that user never gets to see and is constructed only for search engine spiders so as to trick them into indexing the site higher.
  • Link Farming – Link farms have no other purposes than to list links of unrelated websites. They won’t provide you with any traffic and you run the risk of having your site banned for participating.



I hope now you are clear that going white hat means going by the search engine’s rules and regulations and going black hat means going against the rules and regulations of search engine. If you go by the rules of search engine you won’t be affected when an update comes. But if you go against it, your site might get banned and de-indexed as a penalty for using unethical techniques.


So which Hat do you really wear? Which  Hat are you supposed to wear? If you can answer these, then I have accomplished my task to correctly convey the topic. If you have any doubt regarding the topic, please free to leave comments!


white hat or black hat seo