SEO Techniques – Defining Black, White and Gray Hat SEO

Search engine optimization refers to a set of methods used by web design and development companies to get businesses online and sell their products and services.  People may have heard of black hat and white hat techniques – what are they and how do they impact customers as well as businesses?

Defining Hats:

SEO professionals don’t really wear hats – this is a tactic used to get site rankings.  The color of a hat refers to the purity of methods used by developers to get rankings and also how closely search engine terms and conditions are adhered to. Basically, hats are tactics and colors are the ethical rules employed.  So, what do the colors mean?

White Hat SEO:

This indicates that SEO developers are using every method available and staying within the rules set forth by a search engine.  The biggest search engine currently is Google and the rules are pretty stringent.  Companies have to work hard to get high rankings and maintain them.  When companies are following the rules, they are not affected by any updates and changes made by the Search Engine – search engines update algorithms and methods constantly to ensure that sites offer good information and services.  White Hat SEO is quite rare as it is not possible to adhere to all terms set by the search engines.  Whether a company is building brand new sites or buying, the quality of the links determines the popularity of a site.  Not all links are completely natural and combination methods are used.

Black Hat SEO:

There are two distinct types of Black Hat SEO and depending on the type of space a company works in, it can mean different things.  Black Hat SEO refers to tactics used by companies to get visibility – these are forbidden explicitly by the search engine.  For instance, buying links is a big no no with Google; with Bing, buying Likes on Facebook is not encouraged.  Search engines usually target companies which they think are using these techniques to further their business.  This can be detrimental if a company is discovered using these techniques – companies have to work under the radar while employing these methods.  Clients have to be kept informed as they will pay very stiff penalties. Many large retailers have used these methods and there was no difference in quality.  To be fair, low quality sites don’t meet the threshold set by algorithms – they use a mix of black, white and gray to get good rankings.

Gray Hat SEO:

Gray Hat SEo is a mix of black and white – mostly SEO professionals used different tactics and bend the rules a bit to get the desired results.  For instance, with pure Gray Hat techniques, one can build links to sites using distribution methods but never outright buy those from a seller.  Another way is to generate great content, some of which is not quite relevant and still use it on the site.  This method is used quite a bit to get quick results with minimal penalties from search engines.  Gray Hat can be used quite effectively by people with experience to make it look like a site got weighted naturally by search engine algorithms.

There are a number of ways for companies to improving their rankings and staying visible to customers.  Search engines make sure to keep updating rules and favor SEO companies which follow the rules and guidelines.  Those who send out a lot of spam are blacklisted – since methods are constantly evolving, it is important to keep learning and using available tools effectively.

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