You hear about them all the time: meet black hat SEO and white hat SEO.

Maybe you don’t know everything there is to know about these two terms, but you do know that “black” is bad and “white” is good. The irony is that black hat and white hat SEO is not so black-and-white. Maybe you’ve already learned this through the Panda and Penguin algorithms that penalized you for using black hat SEO tactics when you had no idea you were using them.

Since SEO is not going away – sorry guys, the tabloids have been wrong multiple times on SEO being dead – it’s important that you do understand the difference between black hat and white hat SEO.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it’s the process of improving a site through volume and traffic. When a website is seen as being relevant and high quality by the search engines, it’s ranked higher, therefore getting more traffic. Staying in a high spot isn’t a permanent thing, though, and that’s why marketers have to continuously update their SEO strategies.

What is Black Hat SEO?

You can see how it would be tiring to constantly play by the rules, which is why spammers started using black hat tactics, which were like shortcuts to get to the top. Black hat SEO is deceptive and goes against search engine guidelines. Thankfully, algorithm updates have targeted sites using black hat SEO, so it’s now harder to get away with. But, you can see the attraction for people who just want to make quick money and aren’t interested in building a long-term website.

What is White Hat SEO?

White hat SEO is like the holy grail of SEO. It’s packaged in white shining armor, and it has patience, diligence and success written all over it. White hat tactics are approved by the search engines, follow guidelines and contain no deception. White hat SEO takes longer to see results, but the rewards are long lasting.

Spamming Tactics to Avoid

Now time for some examples. Here are black hat tactics you want to avoid:

  • Spamdexing

  • Keyword stuffing

  • Invisible text

  • Doorway pages

  • Invisible iFrames

  • Poor link building

  • Content farming

By using black hat SEO, your site will be penalized or even banned. If you’re in it for the long haul, do NOT take any shortcuts. While white hat SEO is a balancing act between science and art – you will need to test out many strategies and results will take longer to see – it focuses on all the right things: relevant content, readability and trusted sources. Who would you rather be?