Have you heard the concept of white hat versus Black Hat SEO? Maybe you saw all the spy versus spy guys in the Mad magazines? Well, today, we’re going to talk about to tell the difference between black hat and white hat SEO. And we’re going to reveal the biggest misunderstandings of those two different ways to do SEO and which one is going to get your ranked and which one is going to get you banned.
Black Hat SEO versus White Hat SEO-or Gray Hat?
What the heck do those mean? Well, let’s talk a little bit about that. Black Hat SEO, when I first started in this industry (when the dinosaurs walked the earth) was full of Black Hat SEO people. And they had the magic formula to skip all the work and get ranked anyway. Well, those days are long gone and White Hat and ‘Gray Hat’ is really what is left over. Black Hat was like, “Oh, I’ll buy a bunch of domains. Put duplicate content on all of them and I’ll rank for all these great keywords before Google finds out.” This is really big in like the pharmaceutical viagra space.
This worked really well. So, some of the black had techniques that I saw was of course they would do duplicate websites versus one-time site with original content that grows over time. Duplicate websites, all the same content. That’s a no-no. White Hat is one website with multiple sources of content –blogs, social shares of those blogs, images that match. That’s what a one-time unique content website should be like. So, some other Black Hat techniques meany buying backlinks. Man, do they have some Russian link companies that were making a fortune off of selling backlinks.
And then of course, if we could buy a dot e-d-u, that was the gold standard of linking. So, I’m like, “Oh, I’m going to buy a dot e-d-u link or I’m going to buy a Wiki link or whatever I could find that had a a more authoritative domain.” So, you could buy these links. It’s almost impossible they would create a dummy website and then have people link to these dummy sites. That was a big no-no. However, linking on the other hand is a great thing to do if it’s organic. Organic, meaning I wrote some kick-ass content and people are loving it. They’re liking it, they’re sharing it. They’re commenting on it. That’s how you get those links. So, remember when you’re doing day-to-day activity as marketers and as business owners. Don’t forget to ask for the backlink. So, if someone is featuring you in a magazine, get a link from their online site.
If you are being featured as a speaker at a conference, get a link back to the site. If you are a columnist for print magazine or Fortune, get a link back to your site. Always be thinking about who is using my content externally that could link back to my website. Very, very important. Now, a lot of time we steal images and we don’t even know it. And what I mean by that is we’ll take images off a random website. Or we take images off of Google images. Now, a lot of people think google images is free. “Oh, look! All these images, there for me to take.” Hey, you can right mouse click on any of those and download to your computer and you’re off and rolling. What’s happened is that Getty Images owns all or just about all of the stock photography websites.
They have this infrastructure of pages and sites so they can hunt down anyone who takes an image and uses on their behalf. So, one of my clients got dinged $10,000 for one image that was on a website for 2 years. Now, they settled out of court and that’s the game they play now is they hunt down people who have used images that are theirs they own and then they penalize them for that. So, never ever steal any images off of Google images specifically. The next thing is always to make sure that you are buying images you’re going to use for commercial purposes especially. Pixabay, unsplash and canva.com, all have great free images you can use. And that they’re been validated as being free. So, you’re not going to get in trouble for using images that you don’t have the copyright or the royalty rights for. So, think about how can I… If you’re just on a budget and you need to get good images, don’t take them for Google images ever. Don’t steal them off of anybody’s website ever and always be thinking about what other resources can I use to be the most findable images online? Do not ever think that you could do black text on a black background.
No one can see it therefore it makes it more findable. Unfortunately, it’s a very risky move. Google knows about all of these deceptive practices that’s why they’re called Blackhat. You really want to stay on the white hat side. Create content people can see. If it feels deceptive, it is deceptive. And don’t ever buy anything that creates false authority for your website. Don’t buy links. Don’t buy any kind of images that are not yours. Make sure you’re not stealing off other people’s websites. Follow the white hat rules. Google will reward you in spades. So, please take my advice on this. Never follow any black hat strategies. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. It’s a great way to get yourself banned by Google. And tell you getting back in good favor with Google is nearly impossible. Do it right. Follow the rules and you can become the most findable business online.
But wait, what about Gray Hat? Gray Hat SEO is not something between Black Hat and White Hat, but rather the practice of techniques which remain ill-defined by published material coming out of Google, and for which reasonable people could disagree on how the tactics support or contrast with the spirit of Google’s published guidelines.
Why Does Gray Hat SEO Matter?
A proper understanding of Gray Hat SEO is important because it could improve your site’s ranking without negative consequences, or it could cost you thousands in lost traffic. Google’s best practices and conditions have the capacity to prohibit clever innovation and thinking outside the box.
It’s all very confusing as a business owner. I get it. There’s a very small margin between success and error online.
Should You Be Implementing Gray Hat SEO Methods?
You don’t gain much by getting on Google’s bad side, and if you’re unsure if a given method is going to violate Google’s guidelines or not, it’s probably best to avoid that tactic. Every marketer needs to evaluate risk versus reward on their own terms, but with Google’s algorithms getting stricter and stricter all the time, your safest route as a business is going to be strictly white hat SEO.
Some Gray Hat methods we use are to create backlinks to your Tier One Sites, so instead of creating backlinks that go direct to your website we send backlinks to your social media sites, or to other backlinks that have on your site. Google is not going to punish you for sending links to your Facebook, YouTube or Linkedin Pages, or to different news organizations that you may have had a press release published on.
If you would like to learn more contact us at Digital Papercuts.