Black Hat and White Hat SEO, What’s The Difference?

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The modern business landscape has become progressively more digital, and that’s certainly true when it comes to marketing. Business websites are now powerful sales tools when built and managed correctly. One aspect of marketing your business is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO involves boosting your Google search rankings for the types of searches your target audience is most likely to look for. There are also two main types of SEO – white hat SEO and black hat SEO. This article explores both of these in more detail.

While all search engine guidelines are important, Google is Australia’s major player, with nearly 95% of Australian searches. So, let’s look at the differences between white hat and black hat SEO, and why it’s so important to play by Google’s rules.

White hat SEO

Firstly, let’s take a look at white hat SEO. The term’ white hat SEO’ refers to ethical, legitimate SEO techniques that adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Google uses complex algorithms to determine which web pages rank best for certain search terms (keywords), and for a long time, marketers used less-than-ethical techniques to achieve higher rankings – these are known as black hat SEO techniques.

There are some guiding principles when it comes to white hat SEO, such as focusing on quality, informative content, the user experience, and most of all, following search engine guidelines. It’s important to note that certain black hat SEO techniques result in penalties from Google. That is, your website rankings can decrease if you’re caught out using unethical techniques.

Ultimately, as Google’s algorithms continually evolve, it will be harder and harder for black hat SEO workers to manipulate the system. This is why white hat SEO is seen as a long-term, sustainable solution to putting your business in front of your target audience.

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Black hat SEO

We’ve already touched on it a little, but black hat SEO is basically the opposite of white hat SEO. Some marketers think this aggressive approach to SEO delivers fast results, but it never takes long for Google to penalise unethical marketing techniques. The result – your search engine rankings fall, you’ve already paid your SEO specialist, and you’ll need to hire a white hat SEO specialist to fix the problems and get you back on track.

Some common black hat SEO techniques include:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Cloaking
  • Click and link farming
  • Content scraping
  • Content duplication

The problem with these black hat SEO techniques that try to cheat the system is that they ultimately get found out. Google updates its algorithms frequently and has issued major updates to address specific unethical techniques such as keyword stuffing and link farming.

To put it bluntly, SEO companies offering super-fast results are probably using black-hat strategies that will deliver no long-term benefit and may even see your website significantly penalised by Google. Your site may even be deindexed, meaning it won’t appear on other search engine results.

Keyword usage

There is a huge difference between black hat SEO and white hat SEO when it comes to keyword usage. Keywords are the basis of all SEO. The best SEO agency in Brisbane finds the keywords and search terms your target audience will likely search for and optimises your site accordingly, using quality content and meta tags.

On the other hand, a black hat SEO agency uses keyword stuffing. This means they overuse keywords on web pages, even unnaturally, so that sentences don’t make sense. The idea is to trick Google into thinking the page has the best information about a particular search term, but Google is much faster at penalising such pages today.

Content quality

White hat SEO content is informative, easy to read and targeted to your audience. Importantly, quality white hat SEO content is fresh and unique. Good SEO practices ensure that content matches a keyword’s search intent, making it more appealing to the right audience.

Black hat SEO content is totally different. Some tricks employed by black hat SEO marketers include using duplicate or thin content. They may take an article from a competitor’s website and simply change a few words to try and beat the system. Or alternatively, they’ll use artificial intelligence to generate content that’s not up to standard for human reading.

With Google’s capacity to scan content and identify plagiarism, incorrect information and poor readability, black hat SEO content is likely to be penalised faster than ever before.

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Link building

Backlinks, or link building, refers to another website linking back to one of your pages. Websites with a lot of external sites linking to it are considered by Google to be useful to readers, because there’s already evidence that other websites reference the content.

In white hat SEO, marketers achieve this by using ethical link-building strategies, guest posting, influencer outreach and other types of content marketing. The links are genuine, and so is the content you’ve posted originally.

In black hat SEO, link building usually involves buying low-quality links. Disclaimer: You should never have to pay for quality backlinks. Dodgy marketers try to get as many links back to your site as possible, but they deliver no real benefit. In fact, this practice usually just leads to search engine penalties because Google can also identify whether backlinks are from reputable websites or not.

Site performance

Your site’s performance is another crucial ranking factor for search engines. White hat SEO aims to improve page loading speed, mobile responsiveness and other technical issues that affect the user experience. It’s not always easy, and requires a high degree of SEO knowledge.

Black hat SEO often neglects these crucial factors in favour of getting some quick wins, such as ranking #1 on Google for a search term your audience won’t even use. It looks great on reports, but delivers no benefit to your business.

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Risk and consequences

There are huge risks involved in using black hat SEO practices to boost your website’s rankings. Google continually evolves its algorithms to catch these dodgy techniques, so anything you gain from them won’t last long. Ultimately, Google penalises black hat SEO, which reduces your rankings. In severe cases, your site may be deindexed completely.

Aside from search engine rankings, your brand reputation can suffer considerably from using these techniques. For example, using unethical practices like link farming potentially exposes your website (and customers) to security threats. At the very least, using uninformative content on your website is likely to damage your reputation and ultimately hurt your business.


Now that you have an understanding of the difference between black hat and white hat SEO, you can hopefully see there is little benefit in using unethical techniques. White hat SEO takes a little more time and effort, that’s a fact. But the investment is worth it to ensure your website ranks well and maintains those rankings.

If your rankings suddenly drop when Google releases an algorithm update, it’s time to contact the best SEO marketing company to optimise your website the right way. Bayside Website Design offers specialist white hat SEO services in New Farm, Tenerife, Fortitude Valley and all surrounding areas. We only use ethical, sustainable white hat SEO solutions that deliver lasting benefits. Contact us today, and discover a better way to rank well on Google.

Ready to take your business to the next level online?

Our team of award-winning web designers, developers, and SEO specialists is here to help. We offer a complete suite of services to transform your website, boost your online visibility, and attract more customers.

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