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Monday, March 26, 2007

Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO – The Optimization Debate

Posted by @ 9:40 pm
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There are right and wrong ways to conduct your SEO campaigns – good vs evil if you will! The terms ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’ are thrown around with good measure in search marketing circles and you may have come across many references to them. But, do you know what each term encompasses, and what it means for your business? Read on and I’ll explain…

Black Hat

Black Hat is the term for SEO practices that are unethical, underhanded and in direct violation of search engine guidelines. The Wikipedia reference for black hat defines it as “a person who uses their knowledge of vulnerabilities and exploits for private gain”. Undertaking any Black Hat tactics generally results in some form of search engine penalization, including a drop in rank, fall in indexing or even exclusion. The following are some common black hat tricks.

Keyword Stuffing – As its name suggests, keyword stuffing involves packing keywords into either meta tags or website copy. Search engine algorithms can discern high levels of repetitive keywords or phrases and are unlikely to index such content.

Invisible Text – Placing lists of keywords or phrases on a page in the same color as the background, rendering them ‘invisible’ to the naked eye, violates many search engine guidelines and is inadvisable should you want to keep you website indexed!

Doorway Pages – These pages are built for search engine spiders, as opposed to visitors, and it’s unlikely you’ll ever actually see one! A doorway page is optimized soley for indexing. Users may click on a link to a doorway page (designed for crawlers) however, are quickly redirected to another page (designed for visitors).

Cloaking – Similar to doorway pages this technique involves showing one version of a webpage to a visitors, and offering another one for indexing by search engine spiders. A side script directs the crawler to index the page optimized only for search engines.

Scraping – This involves copying content (generally using some form of software) from other high ranking sites and passing it off as your own in an attempt to gain higher rankings yourself!

White Hat

As a general rule White Hat SEO is designed with humans, not search engines spiders, in mind. These practices are ethical and involve no attempts to deceive or trick search engines into getting higher ranking. Simply, the content that the search engines index is the content the users see when they visit the site!

To make sure you’re following best practice check out the following guidelines:

Finally, here’s a cool little diagram I found on silverdisc that sums up the fundamental differences between the 2 hats!


Black Hat

White Hat
Content and Links Search Engines
Humans
Visibility to Humans Hidden
Visible
Quality of Work Hidden
Visible
Search Engines Enemies
Nothing / Friends
Domains/Brands Disposable
Cherished, Primary Domain
Site & Relevance Apparently Improved
Actually Improved
Results Yes, “Short” Term
Yes, “Long” Term
Ethical Techniques No
Yes
Legal No?
Yes?

Over time, the benefits of White Hat SEO are far greater than the short term perks of unethical Black Hat techniques. Play nice and you’ll reap the rewards!



ineedhits Team You can click on any of the circles to get more information about the business they represent, essentially giving many more local businesses first page exposure on Google maps. It should be noted that the top 10 listings will still appear as pins on the left hand side of the map.

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