When you’re hiring somebody to build a patio in your backyard, you want the real deal. Sure, a friend might offer to do it for a cheap price (or free), with low-quality materials and barely sufficient skills. They might even take a shortcut to speed the construction process up. But, if you plan to remain in your home, you should care about the quality and durability of the patio. Believe it or not, the same principle applies to choosing an SEO company, and to the tactics that they employ. Taking the proper approach to SEO will increase your financial return, and benefit your web presence in the process. In this blog post, we’ll illuminate the differences between legitimate white hat SEO tactics, and illegitimate black hat SEO tactics.
Black Hat Vs. White Hat: How Long Will It Last?
White Hat SEO: When you entrust SEO to a legitimate professional with tried-and-true success, the results will show. In the beginning, progress will be slow. But, as the team begins to tighten the technical elements of the website and grow the library of content, the rankings will show.
As time goes by, the potential to rank will be even greater. Google will recognize your website as a legitimate authority on the topic.
Black Hat SEO: If you’ve ever seen roadside advertising about ranking higher on Google while cruising through your neighborhood, you may have considered making a call for your business. These advertisements may promise immediate results. So, what are the chances that they can follow through with that promise?
Unfortunately, slim to none. In the beginning, your website may experience an increase in rankings, even a big one. But, as time goes by, Google will detect that your website used illegitimate ranking techniques. Then, your website will be penalized, setting the stage for a difficult recovery that could take months or years.
Content Writing: Informative Vs. Spammy
The quality of the content is one of the primary differences between black and white hat SEO.
White Hat SEO: When blogging, A professional SEO company would be sure to satisfy all of the basic SEO objectives without compromising the quality of the content. This means incorporating relevant keywords, and delivering content that informs the customer. After all, customers won’t seriously consider your website’s proposition if the content lacks purpose and meaning. White hat SEO calls for the writer to ensure that the content fulfills that objective. In doing so, the content will organically become share-worthy, and be discovered by human readers.
Black Hat SEO: Rather than creating content that accomplishes a purpose or delivers a message, black hat SEO companies write keyword-dense content. Black hat SEO companies do not meaningfully and naturally integrate keywords, or provide useful information. This means using keywords as often as possible, in a way that is spammy, and detracts from the content’s readability. It’s a common misconception in the SEO world that using keywords as often as possible leads to boosted rankings. If the content is a detriment to your website, and does nothing to prove your expertise, then it is black hat SEO content.
Links: Purposeful Vs. Paid
White Hat SEO: The general rule of thumb for incorporating links on your own website, and actively trying to earn other links, is that they should be helpful to the user. So, if you own a small neighborhood hardware store and are writing an article about replacing drywall, you might have a section about plaster. If you previously wrote about plaster, then it would be helpful for users if you linked to that blog post. You are thereby creating a valuable internal link structure that helps search engines and humans find the information they need.
Additionally, white hat link building also involves attempting to receive links from other websites. The value of a link is dependent on the domain authority of the referring website. So, receiving a link from the Huffington Post would be a lot more valuable than the local deli. At the end of the day, though, the purpose of the link matters most.
Black Hat SEO: There are simple ways to have other websites link to yours quickly. For example, some black hat SEO companies utilize link farms, which will link to your website for a nominal fee. Others form relationships with related companies that are not direct competitors, and agree to link to the other’s websites. Both of these tactics are unprofessional, unhelpful to users, and will eventually lead to decreases in ranking. Establishing an artificial linking structure throughout the website is also a misstep.
Keywords: Relevant Vs. Volume-Based
Aside from keyword use within the content, selecting the keywords themselves is important.
White Hat SEO: Yes, keywords with a higher search volume will generate more attention on Google. But, if these keywords are drawing the wrong customers, then what is the point of optimizing your website for them? SEO companies that are truly looking to increase your revenue will spend time researching keywords, and filtering out irrelevant choices. Then, they will incorporate these keywords in relevant spots. The keyword choices should be relevant to the target customers, because if the customers do not have a need for the product or services, then attracting them to the website was pointless.
Black Hat SEO: Black hat keyword selection strategies do not factor in keyword relevance. Rather, they focus on the potential for traffic, however unqualified it may be. Targeting the wrong customers (those seeking a different product or service entirely) with your website will be a waste of your SEO potential. Also, keywords that have low competition (and are therefore easy to rank for) could be equally fruitless, if they don’t apply to your customers. Without customers that are paying for your products and/or services, increased rankings will not hold any ground.
Page Design: User Friendly Vs. Search Engine Pleasing
Search engines can evaluate how easy a page is to use based on load times and bounce rates. So, pages with cleaner interfaces are overall more likely to rank than those without them.
White Hat SEO: White hat SEO has no negative impact on the design of the webpage, or the visual appeal. In fact, properly implementing the correct SEO tactics may even improve the navigation. Through using the proper keywords on the menu, you’ve identified clear and succinct options. This will allow for simple navigation, too. In essence, everything that your website is doing to appeal to search engines is also enhancing your customer’s experience. White hat SEO professionals understand that a pleasant experience increases the likelihood of high conversions.
Black Hat SEO: In addition to the previously listed factors, black hat SEO companies also tend to manipulate search engines through deceptive practices. As a result, the search engine may perceive something entirely different than what will actually appear to users. These are some of the most common black hat SEO tactics:
- Doorway Pages: Doorway pages attract the attention of search engines by using keywords excessively. Rather than displaying this page to users, however, doorway pages redirect users to a separate page altogether. So, doorway pages carry no actual value to the website.
- Cloaking: Cloaking is very similar to creating doorway pages. Rather than substituting the page for another, though, cloaking involves creating two pages with the same URL. Then, the same technique applies: show the keyword-heavy page to the search engine, and the more practical page to the human.
- Invisible Text: This technique involves including keywords on the page, and then setting the font to zero, or the text color to white. So, search engines will perceive the keywords, but not humans. Similarly, other black hat companies will hide links as well.
The common thread between all of these techniques? They carry little to no value to the user. At the end of the day, this is Google’s primary concern in determining which pages should rank over others.
Never Risk Your Website’s Rankings
It could be the move that costs you a new customer. At SEO Long Island, we have helped many high-ranking websites ascend the Google rankings ladder. Our versatile SEO team can take care of the entire process for you, from optimizing the code to writing new content. With diligent effort, we can help your website to attain and maintain a dominant web presence, and earn new customers for years to come. Contact us to begin revolutionizing your website’s internet presence!