Frequently Asked Questions

White Hat vs Black Hat SEO - What's the difference?

  • Amanda Reply

    This is a touchy subject and a very popular topic.

    03/22/12 at 11:33 PM
  • Adam Reply

    Oh boy! You just had to go and do that didn't you Amanda? Short answer: 99% of SEO is gray...

    Also - This a great little video:

    03/23/12 at 08:13 AM
  • Amanda Reply

    Trust me, I know it's a can of worms, but there is so much confusion around the subject. People researching SEO jump into forums and can leave, well... scared. Education is key. Be sure that the sites you frequent are reputable. Keep researching ,and keep an open mind. As Adam said, most SEO falls into the gray area.

    03/23/12 at 06:58 PM
  • Dave Reply

    Was this Black Hat SEO?? I recently took over a company website for re-design and seo content. When we submitted webmaster for account we got this message

    "We've detected that some of your site's pages may be using techniques that are outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

    Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.

    We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you've made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google's search results.

    If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request."

    I was curious how we can determine which links to remove so we can re-submit.


    04/17/12 at 05:18 PM
  • Adam Reply

    We have not had any customers who have gotten that message, but I did read that over 700,000 websites have been given that message. Apparently, it is NOT a new filter as Google maintains that these rules have been in the algo for a long time. What IS new is how forward Google is being about communicating with webmasters... It seems they have decided to go on the offensive in 2012.

    As for figuring out what links they are, that's a hard one. I would start with a ROOT BACKLINK profile to try to sort out which links look solid / legit from those that look really really bad or unwanted.

    04/17/12 at 06:48 PM
  • Ellen Reply

    [quote]Amanda said: This is a touchy subject and a very popular topic.


    Very brave of you to bring this up, Amanda :O

    04/17/12 at 08:17 PM
  • Amanda Reply

    Ha! Thanks Ellen :) you know I'm brave! Adam, sound advice, you must know what the backlinks are before they can be removed. Before you remove any links you must first be able to determine which are the links that are causing the trouble. Unfortunately, Google takes into consideration link building behavior, not just the links themselves but the potential "spammy" nature in which they were received in the first place. Either way, what should you do? Removing the links one by one can be extremely time consuming and perhaps even impossible, you have other options.

    1.Remove Specific pages:If there is a particular page that most of the links are pointing to you can remove that page from the site.

    2. Add good Links: You can also start adding "good" links to your site, it may help balance the links that are coming to you.

    3. You can also appeal to Google by formally asking them to reconsider your website. First, read through Google's Webmaster Guidelines, and then if necessary, file a reconsideration request.

    4. Worse comes to worst, you will have to choose a new domain and start fresh.

    I am sure that others will have something to add to this conversation as well. It is a Hot Topic!

    04/18/12 at 04:09 PM
  • Spence Reply

    White hat and black hat have many different definitions and I agree most tactics used these days are 'grey'. I wrote an article many moons ago about why I felt white hat was a better bet and these were 'generally' the reasons:
    1. Spam isn’t free or easy. The actual costs and time commitments black hats invest is crazy. For not much more time, and often less money, those same businesses and sites could invest in long-term, high value white hat tactics. Many just lack the creativity and willingness to do the hard work, others are seduced by the quick win or ignorant of the options available to them.
    2. White hat builds exciting companies, spam doesn’t. If you’re unwilling to trade short term gains for long term success, you’re probably hurting the online ecosystem.
    3. White hat rankings can be shared.
    4. Spam always carries risk. Whether it’s tomorrow, next month or 3 years from now before you’re knocked out of the search engines, it will happen.
    5. You’re renting rankings rather than buying them. Devaluation of spam tactics means you have to stay one step ahead of the engines, and can never spend a week free from sweating what will and won’t be found. White hat may take longer, but, if done right, it can build an unassailable position of strength long term.
    6. Reliability in the spam world sucks. Spammers are almost never long-term operators.
    7. No matter how many times you rank well with spam or how much you make, it’s just money (and often far too little to sustain you, meaning you’ve got to go do more tomorrow). You’re not building something real, long-lasting and sustainable.
    8. The money’s not that good. Ask yourself who the most prolific, talented, high profile spammers are in the world.
    9. There is legal danger. I hesitate to bring this up because some folks in the search sphere have over-emphasized this danger. However, the US government and the EU all have regulations about disclosure of interests, and a lot of link buying and link spamming behavior violates these guidelines.
    10. Spam never builds value in multiple channels. What I love about the inbound/organic marketing philosophy is how it builds a site that attracts authentic traffic from hundreds of sources, often without any additional work. Spamming your way to a #1 ranking might send search traffic, but if the web shifts to Facebook/Twitter or if email marketing becomes the biggest tactic in your niche, or if a competitor wins purely on branding and branded search, you’re up a creek. You’ve built nothing of real value – nothing to make people come back and share and like, +1, tweet, link, email, stumble, vote for, shout to the heavens about. Spam builds a shell of a marketing strategy; one crack and it’s all over.

    04/23/12 at 02:28 PM
  • Chris Reply

    Amen 3783

    04/24/12 at 02:53 PM
  • Chuck Reply

    I would appreciate as a reseller that you would give us a list of the most commonly used "Black Hat" methods so that we can use it to make the clients aware that they exist and that we don't use them. This would be a good insert on our websites.

    04/26/12 at 11:14 AM