Many people wear hats of different shapes and colors in their lives. While most of us may consider those hats to be either a necessary part of a work outfit or a fashion statement, on the Internet, specifically with SEO (search engine optimization), they have a very different meaning.
You may have heard of white or black hat tactics when it comes to SEO, but did you know there are blue and grey hats too?
Knowing the differences between the “hat” colors and the risks you take when you choose one over the other can keep you out of the Google death zone. When it comes to Google, and their algorithms, there is a very short tolerance for unethical practices that attempt to work around their rules.
It is commonly agreed upon that the safest techniques to follow in your SEO efforts are the White Hat strategies. If you remember the old cowboy movies where the hero always wore the white hat and triumphed over the bad guys who wore black ones, you will see the implied differences in hat colors.
A marketer using White Hat tactics is not malicious in their intent or actual practice. They follow business practices that are considered ethical and acceptable by the industry and do nothing that could be considered spamming others. They are not trying to find and exploit loopholes in the systems.
Practices start veering off the benign White Hat techniques when marketers start pushing the edges of legality and use somewhat shady methods to circumvent Google’s rules. Some of the Grey Hat techniques used might be reverse engineering of copyrighted or trademarked software, or copying small sections of articles and passing them off as their own. They may have found a loophole, but it’s highly likely that the loophole will be closed once Google figures out what they are doing.
This term is used by firms involved in computer security and refers to hackers hired to unearth bugs in a system before it is launched. When the Blue Hat hackers find unprotected areas of a client’s security, they quickly close the hole in the company’s software or report it to the security team.
A Black Hat marketer is someone who implements unscrupulous tactics to achieve better search engine rankings. Used for gaining rank, rather than for creating a better use experience, these tactics may range from keyword stuffing, spam linking, scraped content and article spinning of copyrighted material to hidden website links, excessive cross-linking, etc.
So, as you can see, it’s best to keep your White Hat on if you wish to avoid constantly looking over your shoulder for the “Google police.” If you wear a Black Hat, you may find yourself with a spike in results, but it won’t last for long.
Have you been working with an SEO firm to boost your search engine rankings? If so, do you know which tactics they’re implementing and have they been successful for you. Please share your thoughts below. My readers would appreciate your input on the subject.
I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks so much.