Black Hat SEO Plus White Hat SEO = 50 Shades of Gray

What Color Hat Are You Wearing Today?

white hat seo, black hat seo, gray hat seoSo, let’s start with why I am writing this post in the first place.  Well, I was out searching Google for a product and I came across a forum, a black hat forum to be exact.  I decided to go in and see what was happening in there and found it to be a bit of a disturbing place.  The discussions and products being discussed were shady ways to promote affiliate links.

Now, what I want to make clear is that I am not here to toot my own horn or jump on the holier than thou train.  My purpose in writing this is to hopefully help people stay clear of tactics that are not ethical and will hurt your site, brand, reputation etc.

I bought one of these shady products solely for the purpose of reviewing it and decided to see just how common this Black hat SEO stuff really is.  Well, I am sad to say that it is very common and what really irks me is all the bashing of White hat SEO techniques.  I mean, come on, I realize that some of the black hat of today was the white hat of yesterday, but at the end of the day, it is all about not bucking the system or finding some loophole to get away with things just so you can make money.

I see a lot of comments within the forums of people who are really struggling and need to make extra money fast so these schemes are appealing, but I must warn you that while you may gain some early pay outs, you may very well suffer irrevocable consequences later.

Google is clearly trying hard to find and punish those who continue to use these black hat tactics.  Obviously it will take time but I am confident that with each update they release, another batch of losers will go down.  The purpose of the internet search is for visitors to find quality content in an effort to provide a solution to what they need; it is all about the user experience.  Making money is simply a by product of that and seems to have taken over the heart and mind of some people.

Now, with all that being said, let’s dig into the differences between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO for those of you who are truly new to this business and have no idea what I am talking about.  This post is for you.

White HAT SEO

white hat seoWhat is it?  White Hat SEO is basically the right way to do things.  Operating within the Guidelines of Google and really focusing on the visitor is what will sustain you long term.  This will be done by creating consistent, quality content, keyword research  and using keywords naturally in your writings, as well as natural backlinking methods such as Social Media.  White Hat SEO takes time and perseverance as you build out your business.  You will use SEO to rank in the search engines and as an affiliate you will be earning commissions as you gain trust and become more of an authority on line.

This is the right way to do things as well as the safest.  Not only that, you should feel very good about yourself for working hard.  Your efforts will not be in vain.

Examples of White Hat SEO

  • Site Optimization
  • Quality Content
  • Keyword Research and using in text, tags and headings while writing naturally for the benefit of the visitor
  • Internal Links
  • External Links to Authority Sites
  • Natural backlinking such as social media

Black Hat SEO

black hat seoFor all of you risk takers out there, all I can say is that the high of beating Google at their own game is a short lived gain with long term consequences.  And, the more that Google perfects their system for finding these tactics, the harder and harder you will have to work to continue to come up with ways around them.  It just seems a bit exhausting, but maybe it is all bout the thrill of the chase that excites some of you 😊.

Examples of Black Hat SEO

  • Illegal in some cases, such as hacking
  • Content Stealing
  • Paid Backlink services (bad idea)
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Spamming
  • Cloaking
  • Negative SEO

When google finds you operating in this manner, you will be heavily penalized and in some cases your site will be banned from Google altogether.  Depending on how long it took you to build it up, that could really, really suck!

While the rankings when using Black Hat SEO may look promising early on, they will more than likely be short lived.  And, so that is why you see all these so-called affiliate marketers using one squeeze page with copied content or a video to get people to buy via their affiliate link.  They target pre launch products with good pay outs and then once the hype dies down, they move on to the next one.

So, even if Google punishes them for using shady tactics that go against their latest guidelines, it is really not a big deal from a business standpoint because that one campaign did what it was intended to do.  It is not about building a website, creating quality content, obtaining site/visitor trust, etc.  It is all about making a fast buck and unfortunately that does appeal to a lot of people who have really lost sight of their moral compass.

In Comes the Gray

gray hat seoGray Hat SEO is for those who are walking right down the middle and have not committed to either side.  I believe this is where a lot of us are probably hanging out.  A little bit of black, a little bit of white, no harm in that right? In all honesty I am not sure any one person can truly define what the “gray” place really looks like.

Google guidelines are not the law, but Google search is theirs and so their rules apply.  Are you going to break the law if you pay for spammy backlinks?  No, you are not.  But, you are breaking the rules none the less and will suffer some sort of consequence at some point.

I see comments on other sites every day that say something like this:  “Well, for the most part, I am white hat, but from time to time, I need to do what I need to do in order to succeed”.

Or, this type of comment that is a bit more rebellious:  “Google is the enemy and we must defeat them at their own game!”  Wow, these people are just bitter 😕.

It is easy to fall into the trap, but we really need to refrain from crossing the line and keep on keeping on with building our business the right way.

Now, in all fairness, gray hat may also simply be that place of interpreting Google’s guidelines in a different way than they were intended.  Let’s face it, depending on who you ask about most things, the answers will vary significantly. So, in comes grey hat simply because we do not know what Google means.  But, we will always find out with their releases and then we will be like, “Oh, now I get it” 😐.  Better to air on the side of caution in this case.  If what you are doing smells bad, it probably is.

Examples of Gray Hat SEO:

  • Content Spinning
  • Link Exchange, link sharing, link schemes
  • Social Media Automation in the way of followers
  • Using Old Domains for creating backlinks (Authoritative)

To Sum It Up

No matter what hat you are wearing right now, please consider why you went into this business in the first place.   Maybe your sole purpose was to make money working from home.  Maybe it was to make a difference in people’s lives using the internet.  Maybe it was a bit of both.  Regardless of where you fall, I have no doubt that most of you have put a lot of time into your business, your website, etc. and do not want to lose it or be severely set back because you decided to follow a path that appeared easier and possibly more profitable.

I will leave you with this final thought.  Google is no doubt the major search engine out there today (although Bing is definitely making more and more of a presence).  As long as they are in control, their rules will apply and you should not be fooled into thinking you or anyone else will have them all figured out.  It simply will not happen as Google will continue to update their algorithm in an effort to dismantle those who refuse to play nice.

Please share your comments below.  I would love to hear from those of you who are new to all this and what your thoughts are or if you have any questions around this topic, do not hesitate to ask.

Have a great day!

 

19 comments

  • Hmm, this article really got me thinking. To be completely honest, I’ve never looked into black hat SEO and so I didn’t really know what it was before reading this.
    Suffice it to say, I’m going to steer clear of anything that may jeopardize my site….but when you’re new, you don’t always know what those things are!
    I’m glad I found this article. I’ll be sticking to white hat SEO from now on.
    Thanks for the great info.
    Chloe

    • Hi Chloe

      Honestly I only came across Black Hat SEO when searching for a product to review. Upon reviewing a product I bought for this purpose, I noticed how little value there was and the shady techniques being aught were only going to convince the newbie that there really is not a whole lot of work with making money online. It made a bit angry, so I decided to write this post.

      Thank you for commenting, always appreciated :).

      Have a great day!

  • Hello

    Excellent article, I was just browsing when I came across your article. Thank you for sharing this information with us, I have found some very useful pointers to take away with me. I know others will also benefit from it. You clearly know your stuff.

    To me it sounds like we need more black hat enthusiasts in the world.

    again thank you for sharing, I know many people will benefit from knowing this now. I hope to hear from you soon, I will pop back in a few days to hear your response.

    -Jack

  • I’ve visited that Black Place too and agree with you completely. The thing is, the internet is rapidly evolving to crush businesses that don’t play by the rules.

    This is a good thing, because the advantage should be to the businesses that offer genuine value. Shortcuts, gimmicks and so-called secrets to making money are dying out, as they should.

    If someone really wants to make money on the internet, they have to stop trying to find the secret gimmick. Business on the internet is like business off the internet. It’s based on age old principles of integrity and value.

    That’s why I love your #1 Recommendation.

    • Hello

      I completely agree. Some things are just meant to be earned :).

      Thanks for commenting. Glad you like my recommendation 😉

      Have a great day!

  • Hi Kelli,

    This is a very good article to put out there and to be made aware of. Some people don’t know any better because they are being taught by the wrong (black hat) sort of people. I like that you listed the types of work the blacks hats seek revenue. Maybe some of these people will step back and say. OOOh, I’ve been doing that and it’s not a good thing to do.

    I too believe that some push the envelope right on into the grey area.

  • Very interesting, I had never thought of all the shades of gray with the affiliate marketing before. Since I have only been doing it for a little while now I think the only education that I’ve read has been white hat style. I can barely wrap my head around all of that let alone the shady style.

  • I love this article. I learn’t something new today, as I was never sure what black hat and white had meant. Grey hat on the other hand is something new to me, although I have spun content in the past, before I knew that Google didn’t like it.

    Keep up the great work on your website Kellie.

    • Hi Michel

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I think many of us use various techniques not knowing whether they are black hat or grey hat simply because they are common place out there today. Hopefully this article will help steer people in the right direction and continue to market their sites in the right way.

  • Hi there, this is definitely an interesting article about SEO. I’ve been always wandering about what is the ‘white’ and ‘black’ in SEO (and surprised there is the ‘gray’ also).

    I think I’ve come across this ‘black hat’ forum when searching some information in Google. I found a ‘affiliate scheme’ there and decided to avoid any information from that forum.

    Just out of curiousity, do you know:
    1. The ‘black’ that was ‘white’ before? It’s interesting to see your statement there.
    2. Example of Negative SEO? I never heard about SEO being negative.
    3. What do you mean by paid backlingking service at the ‘black’? Is it the same with paid guestposting service?

    Thanks for the answers! 🙂

    • Hi Alblue

      Some of the black hat techniques of today that used to be considered acceptable before are keyword stuffing, shady backlinking, articlr spinning, duplicate content etc. These things were actually acceptable back in the day and you could see results using them; however, in today’s online world, these things will get you spanked by Google at some point and the consequences could be costly to your business.

      Negative SEO is simply using black hat and unethical techniques to ruin your competition. Unfortunately it is happening a lot.

      Paid backlinking is a no no. Backlinking should always be a natural occurence as a result of your efforts and not through using a paid service.

      I hope this clears up some of your questions. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

      Have a great day!

  • Hi Kellie,

    Wow really enjoyed your article! I know all to well about black hat seo, as it was a common practice a few years ago when I first started. That ended badly LOL I had a site for a very tough key word and it took me 3 years to get there. Then googles penguin came out and I was no where to be found!!

    3 years gone in one update so I no longer practice any black hat or grey hat techniques. I can laugh about it now but at the time it was pretty devastating.

    Keep up the good work Kellie 🙂

  • A lot of people want to follow the easy way when it is not naturally the right way, and I believe that in the end it will be rewarding for yourself and your business to follow the rules.
    Also, the goal of creating a business is to make something that will last a long time and there’s only one way to do that and it’s by following white hat SEO like you said.
    Thanks for posting.
    Emile

  • Hi Kellie,

    Bat Hat techniques will be the death of many websites before it is all over! I have done a little research on black hat and white hat for an article I wrote for my website.

    I for one, am not taking any chances with black hat methods. I’m glad that I joined an affiliate training platform that teaches the right way to go about building an online business.

    I am a believer that if you take the easy way, the back door, or any way that is not the honest way, things will backfire on you.

    I’m not sure about the gray hat methods yet. I think of that as having one foot in black and one foot in white. I work hard enough doing things the right way. I don’t want to have to worry if there a possibility that Google may see anything I’m doing as anything other than white hat. So, of there is a doubt, I would just as soon leave it alone.

    Thanks for sharing this information because you will be surprised at how many people have never heard of black hat/ white hat methods. Now, people will know what to stay away from.

    Verna

  • I really like the heading of your article. I think that if I want my business to make money for me in a long term sense then I would not even look at Black Hat. I know of a lot of marketers that lost traffic from Google because they used to build links to their websites.

    One can also mix it up where you have websites that has Black hat and White hat SEO. This way you do not put all your eggs into one basket.

  • Hi Kellie

    This is a brilliant post that really just sums it up perfectly. I wish I had come across this information 5 years ago when I was in the planning stages of setting up my online business.
    It was so hard in the beginning to see what was black hat and what was white hat. I never even knew there was black hat and that it was dangerous for my business long term.
    I searched online how to do things and then went along and did them without realizing. It took a while and then I realized that there was a difference of opinion on how to do things properly and it took me a long time to learn the right way.
    I think this is a huge problem online, there is so much conflicting information out there. The best thing is to find a place that only teaches white hat techniques.
    It took me a long time searching to find Wealthy Affiliate University but once I found them last year I have seen my online business grow so much because of all the great training resources that I can trust.
    Is there somewhere that you recommend?

  • Interesting article,SEO is all a grey area, you will see so many people preach different stuff. The days of keyword stuffing and spamming links are long gone, well they are not gone people still do them but these burn and churn sites,they try and make as quick money as possible before Google penalises them.
    Not all blackhat techniques are bad and some of the really big SEO gurus practice them. For instance, PBN’s are supposed to be blackhat, but if done properly you can go undetected by Google and start ranking in extremely competitive niches.
    I actually believe the best place is to be in the grey area,take from both and see what works for you.

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