If you’re maintaining some kind of web presence as a means through which to get your business out there and competing in an ocean of digital content, you’ll be well aware of the fact that there are certain things you need to do in order to stand out. I mean even if you’re running a very successful online business which purely operates in the online space and is profitable in that way, it won’t take a single full day for a team of programmers to clone the site and possibly fight it out with you to gain control of your revenue streams.
Consequently, there are so many different tactics webmasters use in order to stand out, many of which are outright deceitful and dirty. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one such tactic which in itself is not dirty, but it is probably the most prone to being tainted with unscrupulous practices. That’s why two different approaches to SEO have been defined, namely White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO.
SEO agencies in particular come into focus as part of our discussion of white hat and black hat SEO, bringing into focus an emerging trend which is referred to as grey-hat SEO; somewhere in the middle of the distance between white hat and black hat. It’s important to know this information because organic traffic which is what SEO targets is the best traffic you can get (visitors who come to your site having clicked through the results as listed by Google’s search engine). It’s somewhat of an entire industry unto itself so naturally as someone who has a specific focus and someone who still wants to take advantage of the possibility of getting organic traffic through SEO, you might outsource that to a Search Engine Optimization agency.
Ultimately it’s your site which will be affected by way of its rankings and its compliance status, so you have to at least know what the SEO agency you’re employing to do your Optimization is all about.
White Hat SEO
It’s no secret that no matter what Google can say about the algorithm they use to rank websites, the single most important factor is that of the number of links which point to a specific site. That goes back to the origins of what is now the giant technology company which has even grown beyond its beginnings as a search engine, but then if it was that simple then it would be a matter of he who can afford to buy the most back-links (targeted links to their website) ranks the highest, every single time.
That’s not quite the case, which is where the phrase white hat SEO comes into play. Google wants to reward websites with high rankings based on the user experience they offer visitors, so there is a huge drive for a focus on the kind of content which suggests that a user is visiting the site and sticking around quite a bit because they find value out of it.
The guidelines for SEO set out by Google pretty much constitute white hat SEO – SEO practices which are given the green-light by Google and will not get your site blacklisted, banned or penalised.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO is the opposite of white hat SEO, characterised by optimisation practices which Google deems to deliberately be for the purpose of ranking higher and nothing more. So this would include things like keyword stuffing, where popular search-terms are inserted in some content which makes no real sense to a human reader and are solely for the purpose of appearing to have the site focussed on the topic they form a part of.
Additionally, buying back-links as a direct transaction is another constituent of black hat SEO practices to be very careful with.
Grey Hat SEO
Grey hat SEO is somewhere in the middle of white and black hat SEO, which means some clever tactics to remain compliant are used, but tactics which perhaps test the limits. Most SEO agencies do indeed employ grey hat SEO practices, often getting their clients some great results, but they run the risk of falling victim to some sweeping changes which may be introduced by Google to effectively render these tactics as non-compliant.