White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO

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What is SEO?

According to Neil Patel, an SEO expert, SEO is a practise of optimising your online content in such a way that search engines rank it on the top of the searches.

When it comes to methods that SEO specialists use in order to rank higher on search engines, there is white hat SEO and black hat SEO. White hat SEO is a term that is used for optimization strategies, that follow search engines’ guidelines and are primarily focused on human beings. Black hat SEO is a set of practises, that are focused primarily on getting high search engine rankings. The methods of black hat SEO violate all the guidelines of search engines.

In the past black hat SEO techniques were widely-spread worldwide as search engines were not always able to detect and punish illegal methods of SEO. In the recent years more and more plug-ins from Google, Yandex, Bing, Yahoo! and other Internet platforms have significantly improved in finding out and punishing black hat SEO techniques.

White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO Techniques

1. Backlinks and PBNs

Link building factor is the most important one for SEO. Backlinks are links that come from external web pages to your website. There are various ways to build links to your website, some of them belong to white hat SEO and some are black hat SEO.

Writing honest testimonials, doing guest blogging and creating mutual partnerships in the same industries are methods of White hat SEO. All of these take time, money and a lot of efforts, but they do pay off in the end.

Black hat SEO link building strategies are mostly connected with getting backlinks from PBNs (Private Blog Networks). PBNs are networks that build links to a single web page in order to manipulate search engines and get higher ranking very fast. Think of it as a pyramid, where the top layer is your website and the supporting blocks are the other web pages, that back you up with some links. PBNs are expensive to build (an average cost of one Network is around 100 Euros), and the process of creation is very time-consuming (you have to find a domain with good authority, you will have to get a host to develop a page for you, all the links, content, images and a social network account).

In 2019, Google has become very good at denoting PBNs, and if your web page has them, you will be demoted from all search results immediately.

2. Your Brand Name

brand logo on the laptop screen

At first glance, you will not think of a brand name as of an important factor for SEO. However, this is not true. Your brand name is something that stands out, something that your clients and visitors, who find you through organic traffic, will remember.

White hat SEO means that you choose a certain brand name for your business because it is cool and/or outstanding, and you simply like it. Yes, you can use keywords that are dominant in your industry, but you should not overload your brand name with them. This is one of the methods of black hat SEOs. They try to put as many keywords in the brand name, aiming at higher Google rankings. What is more, adding keywords may be different.

Black hat SEO specialists often create a brand name that is an exact match to the top industry keywords. However, in 2019 using top keywords from your industry may not be the best strategy for getting high rankings. You should always support your keywords with content on a webpage. Let’s say if you use the keywords “warm winter boots”, and it ranks high, but your webpage doesn’t have enough relevant content to the footwearing industry, Google will see this, and your brand name will not help you.

3. Content of the Page

a man tyoing some text on an orange typing machine
Content is very important. This is what people see on your page, and also what crawlers find on your website and use for giving you rankings.

Blogging daily is the main source of getting clients in 2019. But how should you create blogs?

White hat SEO specialists create their content manually. Manually means working hard every day, doing a bunch of research, doing analyses and brainstorming for new ideas.

Black hat SEO techniques consist of automatic creation of content, that is based on keywords. Special robots create content automatically, but they do it for search engines but not for people. Google has become very good at identifying of automatic content creation, and it will punish you for it. Content scraping is also often used by black hat SEO experts. That basically means copying a content of a page and posting it on your own website.

4. Redirections and Fake Click Bait

Redirections are a very influential source that can bring a lot of organic traffic to your web page.

White hat SEO experts use redirections when a resource was moved or the page was changed. Redirections are also used when a site uses a new domain. In this regards, redirection means sending a visitor from a page/domain that used to be dedicated to the same topic before but just changed its location on the Internet.

Black hat SEO specialists use what is called “sneaky” redirections. It is basically a practise of fooling a search engine when you show one thing to a visitor and another one to a search engine. It may also turn out that some of the visitors see one piece of content while the others see an absolutely different one.

Faking click bait is another practice of getting more organic traffic in an unfair way. Imagine you are looking for information about green leather bags, you find an interesting site with an awesome meta description, you click on it and you get information about building a house. No relevance, right? And Google will see and penalize fake click bait very quickly.

5. Keywords

Keywords are very important for the success of your page on search engines. Spending enough time on finding the right keywords for your services and products is crucial. What is more important, is the correct usage of the keywords on all of the pages of your website.

The secret of being successful with keywords as a white hat expert is to do constant keyword research and to create amazing and unique content. It is recommended to not dedicate more than 1% of your content to keywords.

Black hat SEO guys use a method that is called “keyword stuffing”. That means putting as many relevant keywords as possible on the pages. In this case keywords are used not only in the right context, but also at the beginning and in the end of the page as random text, that has nothing to do with the article or post. Google has become very good at denoting the usage of your keyword and it will get the tricks of black hat SEO method quickly, it will demote you from all search rankings at once.

What Google Can Do to Your Black Hat SEO?

android symbol on a smartphone

It depends on what you do and how often you do it. For minor Black hat SEO “crimes” you will be given time to make changes. For major violations, you will be out of any google rankings for a long time. Do not try to be sneaky and cheat on Google. Every year Google is getting better at detecting black hat SEO methods so with a high probability in the end it is not you who is going to be the winner if you use any illegal SEO methods, but Google.

Of course, there are some other search engines such as Yahoo!, Yandex, AOL, Ask and Bing. They have different methods of identification and different punishments.

Of course, it is up to you if you want to use only white hat SEO, black hat SEO or combine both of the techniques. However, be careful about the consequences of using black hat SEO methods.


  1. Nathan Gotch(2019). Are Private Blog Networks(PBNs) Worth It In 2019?

  2. Neil Patel. Why Your Brand Name is the Best SEO Hack You’ve Got(And What That Means For Your Bottom Line)
  3. Neil Patel. 6 White Hat SEO Strategies You Can Learn from Black Hat SEOs
  4.  Search Engine Land. What is SEO/Search Engine Optimization?
  5.  Sharon Hurley Hall(2019). White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO: How to Be a Search Engine Hero