What is Black-Hat SEO? What is White-Hat SEO?

What Is White-Hat SEO? What Is Black-Hat SEO?

All SEO is not created equally.

Or maybe we should say that not all SEO is implemented equally.

The past few years have been a rocket-ride in the SEO industry. Google’s immense power and domination of the search engine market has given way to the need for even such a thing as search engine optimization. Just a few short years ago, this entire industry was non-existent.

Since even the first days of search engines, somebody has always had to rank #1. It’s still the same today, but Google has grown far out of its juvenility of days past and has matured into a very complex algorithm for gathering, analyzing, sorting and ranking the world’s information online.

The Black Hat SEO, Spam & Search Engine Manipulation Era

After the dot-com boom of the late 90s, the 2000s gave way to an immensely competitive landscape of online search. For those of us who remember the era of spam, it wasn’t all too uncommon to come across garbled comment spam on a regular basis. You remember, right? You’d see something like this at the bottom of an article about night-vision goggles:

Hi. fantastic is present buy gold watches sure to great happy now only.mzWQ

This stuff used to work, though!

There were automated spam programs developed by some pretty smart folks who figured out how to write programs that would crawl the web, automatically sign up for forums or guestbooks (remember those?), and make a bunch of nonsensical, garbled posts that contained links to fly-by-night sites where they would have some knock-off watches or something for sale.

Google’s ranking algorithm at the time simply took into account how many links were out on the internet pointing to a site and what the clickable text that creates the link said. That’s called anchor text (the part in that comment that says “buy gold watches”) and Google used to just count how many of the same anchor texts there were in the links to these sites and would give the highest rank to whoever had the most.

We have seen a lot of these old tactics first-hand when conducting link remediation on clients’ sites. The impact of cleaning up low quality links and implementing a modern-day, white-hat link-building strategy is actually very powerful:


Links weren’t the only problem, though. There was also a lot of other forms of manipulation, like hidden content (especially hidden links), black blogs, keyword stuffing, article spinners, meta-keyword stuffing, among others.

The White-Hat, Quality-Over-Quantity-Based Eternal Present

When the net was too flooded with spam, Google began crafting their algorithm differently. The release of Panda, Penguin, and other algorithm changes have totally obliterated the effectiveness of a great deal of spam tactics, and continue to evolve towards rewarding sites that utilize human-valuable optimization tactics with higher rankings.

It keeps getting better and better all the time. We are already enjoying a much cleaner and better web now, and as Google evolves to deliver the best quality content and sites to those searching for them, our industry only unfolds more and more. We love what we do and love helping our clients develop their own businesses and rise to new heights of success.

Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam Team, has this to say about using white-hat SEO:

We are in Google’s playground and there are immense benefits to creating websites that are of true value to human beings, provide real services, and are designed for long-term sustainability. Combined with proper configuration and strategy, SEO is still very much alive, well, and getting better all the time! Let us help you utilize white-hat SEO techniques to their fullest potential! Get in touch today.

"If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it." — Margaret Fuller
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