If you’re a business looking for an SEO consultant or company, you may have heard the terms “black hat” or “white hat” SEO.

Black Hat

Black Hat practices essentially refer to any SEO methods that are unethical and will be penalized by Google. Many of these unethical practices may have once worked, but don’t any longer because Google caught on to the scam. Shadier SEO companies still use them because they actually work temporarily, until Google’s robots find your website.

Black Hat SEO methods concentrate more on ranking and less on the human audience they will have. Companies who use it care more about the temporary financial success they will have than producing good, reliable content. Using these techniques is short-sided, to say the least.

Some common Black Hat methods include:

  • Keyword stuffing – Including as many keywords as possible on one page, even if the keywords were irrelevant and incohesive. Some websites even tried to hide words by making them white on a white background; this might trick a human, but will not trick a computer.
  • Doorway pages – Doorway pages are designed for Google’s robots and not for human visitors. They are customized to certain keywords and sometimes different locations. If you’ve ever clicked on two different URLs and they both led you to the same webpage, that’s the doorway page.
  • Hidden content – Some websites will try to hide keywords within their code in order to get better rankings. Human visitors can’t see the deception, but spiders can.
  • Link farming – Link farming is essentially trading backlinks. In some contexts, this isn’t actually a Black Hat technique. For instance, trading guest posts is something Google condones. Link farming refers to backlink trading on a massive scale. Generally, backlinks are published to websites that were created solely for the purpose of link farming. One reason why this method ended up on the Black Hat list is because the websites are generally irrelevant to each other.

White Hat

SEOs who use White Hat practices are the “good guys.” Quality content made for a human audience is the best White Hat method. Backlinks are also good, as long as they are relevant, quality links. Keyword research [http://freeguestpost.com/finding-the-perfect-keywords-to-optimize-your-blog/], titles, and Meta data are also acceptable White Hat approaches. White Hat techniques will not be penalized by Google – they are actually encouraged!


Boswell, Wendy. “What is Black Hat SEO?” http://websearch.about.com/od/seononos/a/spamseo.htm. (4 Oct. 2013).

Marrs, Megan. “The Dangers of Keyword Stuffing.” http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/03/21/dangers-of-keyword-stuffing. (4 Oct. 2013).

Rouse, Margaret. “Link farm.” http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/link-farm. (4 Oct. 2013).

Wilding, Roy. “Top 5 White Hat and Black Hat Search Optimisation Techniques.” http://www.pushon.co.uk/articles/top-5-white-hat-and-black-hat-search-optimisation-techniques// (4 Oct. 2013).