It turns out SEO is a colourful process that includes three different types of hats. And we are not talking about headwear. Just like with every other industry, there are people doing it by the book, and there are those who look out for hidden passages to cut their way to the top short. And the internet has been known for providing opportunities for those who like to cheat a little bit. Search engine optimization is a process that is highly competitive for its participants and requires you to follow rankings report on a daily basis. So there is no surprise that SEOs look for all kinds of ways to jump ahead of the competition. Let’s define what the three categories of SEO hats mean and what are the differences between them.
White as a feather
White hat is a term that describes SEO tactics that are compatible with rules and conditions provided by major search engines, like Google, for example. It is the purest form of SEO. A white hat offers quality content, looks for keywords rich meta links and makes sure the site is responding fast and is easy to navigate. Then SEOs follow their search results on a SERP (search engine ranking page) and adjust their tactics. White hats of SEO are playing a fair game. White hats tactics are the best to implement if you want an ethical and successful business and a website. They might take some time, money and manpower, but they are worth the effort. And if you do not follow white hat rules, your site can be quickly banned by Google or other search engines. And this could be devastating for your business. It is worth remembering that white SEO is a foundation for any kind of SEO tactics you would like to use.
The dark side
Black hats, as probably guessed, do not follow search engines guidelines. It is the riskiest of all SEO tactics. Content provided by black hats is often banned, which can result in the whole website being blocked by search engines. People choose to follow black hat rules for a short-term advantage as you tend to rise in rankings faster not have to follow the book. But these types of processes smell of desperation, as there are non-long-term advantages of choosing this path, only risk of losing what you have accomplished.
So what are the black hat practices? Well, they include plagiarism, keyword stuffing/hiding, cloaking (when different content is visible for humans and different for a search engine) and usage of thin or automated content and many, many more. Basically, if you want to be a one-hit-wonder and have a site for a really short-term, black hat practices might work for you with a little bit of luck. But, if you are building a business that should run for years, avoid black hat tactics at all costs.
A grey area of SEO
Life is not just black and white in the world of search engine optimization. Grey hat techniques for SEO fall somewhere in the middle and seem to be the most tempting to implement. These practices are not far from search engines guidelines but are still considered a little bit risky. It is hard to name a definition for the phrase “grey hat”. The grey SEO practices are not regarded as illegal or out of the provided guidelines, but sometimes are called slightly unethical, as grey hats don’t leave the results only to the internet users.
The examples of grey hat SEO includes clickbait, so the attention-seeking over quality content, paying for reviews, slightly altered content, and link exchanges. This type of SEO is riskier than white hats, but it is far safer when it comes to possible ban from search engines.
Which one of the three tactics should you choose?
It is hard to indicate one process you should follow no matter the circumstances. However, the most helpful tip is to try to stay in good terms with search engines, as they hardly ever forget or forgive. It seems like the most efficient way is the white way of SEO. If you have the time and the money, and you don’t want to risk it all, choose to be a white hat. If you feel the pressure to succeed fast and no matter the cost, you might want to turn to the dark side. And finally, if you like a little bit of risk and being in between, grey hat SEO is for you.
No matter the colour, SEO is a process that you should focus on in the coming months, or maybe years. Now that competition in any market or industry is pretty high; you need to make sure you stand out in the crowd. And a proper SEO can most certainly provide the advantage you are looking for. Consider risk, cost and level of effort before choosing the right type of SEO for your business. But never underestimate the power of quality content!