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Search Engine Optimization Hats: The Black, White, & Gray

A company’s online popularity is mostly brought by its Search Engine Optimization (SEO) team and the top-quality implementation of their strategies. In SEO, there are three hats you should look out for: the white, the black, and the gray. 

White HatYou’re showing your willingness to follow all of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines in terms of how websites and webpages are ranked. It proves that you participate in the ranking game as fairly as you can.  white hat seo
Black HatThis is quick and effective. However, your company faces a higher risk of being disregarded because it goes against a search engine’s Terms of Service.  black hat seo
Gray HatYour strategies aren’t necessarily labeled good or bad, thus being in the middle. You’re speeding up the SEO process, while still being careful to not get on Google’s bad side.  gray hat seo

SEO is the magic behind a new product line’s successful launch. It’s what makes it steadily climb charts as we speak. Like most things, each of SEO hats come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Each hat even has its own set of hackers. Still wondering which hat your team is wearing? Read on to find out!

White Hat SEO

Wearing a white hat when practicing SEO strategies make marketers look pure. You’re showing your willingness to follow all of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines in terms of how websites and webpages are ranked. It proves that you participate in the ranking game as fairly as you can. You’re working far away from the risk of being penalized. There are no cheats or shortcuts, just hard work. 

For one, the most important white hat strategy is staying on top of your SEO practices such as monitoring your keywords, link building, and organic ranking. Optimize for mobile viewers and keep your content relevant. Moreover, make sure you’re also regularly posting on your social media accounts to engage with your audience and continuously partnering with other companies in and out of your industry. 

Results might take a bit more time before they arise, but the chances of losing your credibility are also incredibly low. To marketers who use white hat SEO, there’s no such thing as buying links, using automated software, and straying from best practices. You can improve your white hat SEO with these Five Quick But Effective SEO Tweaks You Can Do Yourself.

Black Hat SEO

At the spectrum’s opposite end, wearing the black hat means you’re diving right into the deep end of violating all the SEO guidelines put in place. Once you participate in this, consider throwing all your ethical practices and principles out the window. You’re basically walking on thin ice by making your own rules. Yes, one of the pros is that it’s quick and effective. However, one downside is that your company faces a higher risk of being disregarded.

It’s worth noting that black hats don’t violate any laws. They’re also not hackers. They only go against a search engine’s Terms of Service. A few common black hat schemes include spamming, keyword stuffing, heavy alteration of a website after being ranked, buying links, and website cloaking. Other companies duplicate their pages. You may see one page but the algorithm sees a modified version of it.

Some websites still acquire top-ranks despite wearing a black hat. These are those in industries where wearing black is the norm. They score highly simply because everyone else is wearing black too and Google doesn’t have a choice. However, overall, it’s unstable, forceful, and highly discouraged. Black hat strategies focus on the search engines’ consumption, completely disregarding the main target audience: your customers.

Gray Hat SEO 

And just like all spectrums, between wearing the whites and blacks is a middle-ground where marketers wear the gray hat. Your strategies aren’t good or bad, thus being in the middle. In this area, you still want to play safe, but it’s okay if you take a few detours sometimes. You’re speeding up the SEO process, while still being careful to not get on Google’s bad side. 

However, draw a clear line between what you will and will not do when you choose to use gray hat SEO. For example, what are your thoughts on clickbait? Is it worth your pouring resources into implementing it? It can quickly attract potential viewers but once you get their attention, will your content satisfy their search criteria? Be careful not to disappoint your audience. They might not click on any of your links in the future.

Gray hat SEO also makes use of old domains, adding fake reviews, or automating social media content. Would you enforce any of these strategies? You determine whether a particular gray hat technique leans more towards the black or white side. You decide how light or dark the gray is. If you proceed with caution, you won’t be banned at the snap of a finger. Just keep in mind that the possibility will always remain there. In addition, gray hat SEO strategies may be classified differently from time to time. It may be a harmless and low-risk tactic now, but it might escalate into a much more controversial one in the future. 

Which hat will you wear?

Carefully reflect on the possible consequences you might have to face before you decide on wearing a black or gray hat. Are you willing to take the risk? To be safe, it’s best to stick to white hat practices as much as possible. In fact, there’s also an SEO specialist in the Philippines that can help you execute more complex strategies and techniques. Regardless, think of SEO as a long-term investment. Which of the hats would you wear?

Jessa Mae


A fan of many pop culture icons, Jessa enjoys reading novels, watching movie adaptations of her favorite books, and comic book movies. Always ready to learn more, she also reads for information about various topics. If she's not busy writing or reading, she enjoys doing art and playing guitar.

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