A common classification you may come across when researching Search Engine Optimization companies is ‘white hat’ vs ‘black hat’ techniques. Simply put, ‘white hat’ refers to techniques that search engines recommend as part of good design, while ‘black hat’ refers to deceptive techniques the search engines do not approve of.
Examples of ‘white hat’ techniques used to improve site ranking are continual production of quality content, effective use of keywords, having quality inbound links to the site, and structuring the site with proper mark up, titles, and meta data. ‘White hat’ optimization focuses on practises that are in agreement with the primary goal of the search engines: to provide the most relevant content to the user, and making that content easily accessible, rather than attempting to trick the algorithm from its intended purpose.
Examples of ‘black hat’ techniques include hidden content, improper use of meta keywords and descriptions, ‘fake’ gateway pages (pages that are stuffed with content and highly optimized for 1 or 2 keywords, which the end user never sees because they are automatically redirected to the target page), and link farming (a group of web sites that all hyperlink to every other site in the group, even though they are unrelated).
While ‘black hat’ techniques are frowned upon by search engines, they are not ‘illegal’. Rather, they contradict what Google believes to be good practise. Using ‘black hat’ techniques can produce quick results at the risk of a site eventually being banned, either temporarily or permanently, once the search engines discover what they are doing. One’s willingness to allow ‘black hat’ techniques for the optimization of their website really comes down to their goals and their risk tolerance.
If your goal in optimizing your website is to achieve long term success, you need to be certain that your SEO provider is using only ‘white hat’ techniques. Using ‘white hat’ SEO and avoiding ‘black hat’ SEO is the best way to optimize your website to achieve strong ranking in the search engines. If you are unsure if your site is potentially at risk from black hat techniques, our SEO experts can review your site for you to expose any potential issues.
At Rocket SEO, we use only ‘white hat’ techniques, and will never put any of our clients at risk by using any unethical strategies. Whether you are looking to hire an SEO company for the first time or looking to switch SEO providers, be sure to know what techniques they use – or, figuratively speaking, what colour of hat they wear.