What's That ???
Whitehat and blackhat sounds strange enough to be interesting. The titles by sheer nature of being what they are do attract some level of curiosity. In the world of SEO, these are two important terms to familiarize yourself with because as you develop your website with intentions to link build and strategize a plan to Google prominence, your efforts will be aligned more or less towards one or the other so called SEO "hat" methods.
These methods have been around for quite some time. Interestingly enough, the weight and effectiveness for each has changed over the years and throughout many Google updates. However, as the adage goes, "slow and steady wins the race.." and certainly is something to keep in mind as we explore this further.
The People & More
There's no question that search engines have become increasingly more intelligent. Their ability to read code and recognize who's trying to game the system and who's actually playing by the rules has continued to evolve. Relevance, value in information and results are becoming the staple of what consumers are after online. Consumers want to feel that they matter. Consumers want to visit online destinations and find helpful answers to their questions and problems. The very same consumers are much more aware of the websites that are more focused on revenue than the quality of their products.. informational, physical, electronic or otherwise.
The upside to pleasing your visitors is dramatic while the alternative is placid and uninspiring. With so much at stake why consider one strategy over the other. As in life, there are realities about SEO that are the same and the immediacy of results and success is at the top of the list. Optimizing pages and your website for the sake of better ranking organically is "not" an instant process. More specifically, it is a "process" and with that being said.. that process takes time before you see the fruition of your time, energy and work invested into it. This is not attractive to most. We live in a society where "getting it now" is a far more common mindset than it has ever been before with the help of greater access to information that has led to the reality that we live today. Toiling away for years before experiencing success is no longer the norm.
Lets Get Into The Hat's
It's not hard to understand why blackhat is attractive and has the audience that it does. If you've ever dabbled in blackhat methods here's the truth.. often times it works and on top of that results, good or bad are typically more immediate than whitehat methods. It's that simple... Summarily, we're talking short term gains and a losing long term strategy. It almost becomes a question of ethics to some degree. Do you believe that link manipulation is okay ? Does it bother you at all ? Would you do anything to get the almighty backlink ? Would you steal content and spin it and call the content your own ? These are relevant questions to consider if the blackhat option is of interest to you. As you can imagine, there are many people out there willing to pursue the blackhat option because it could mean a faster opportunity to earn quick dollars.
Conversely it's also not hard to understand why whitehat is attractive and receives the accolades that it does. While whitehat methods are slower and the "instant gratification" is not something you're likely to experience going this route, it does provide you opportunities that you do not get through blackhat channels. These opportunities come as a result of simply put.. "not having anything to hide", following Google best practices and not violating their TOS.
As seen in the Infographic, there are several items located in the blackhat and whitehat sections. To address a small selection of them, lets start with hidden text.
Hidden text is a blackhat strategy that is uncommon these days, but there are still traces of the method being used. Text placed on a page for the search engines to view but not intended for your user to see in aims to garner a higher ranking for one or more keywords. Low value method and low return because it will lead to a Google penalty and possible de-indexing of the website completely from search engine results.
If you're a person that enjoys using "automated" software beware of link farms. Automated programs that claim to do all the link building for you are typically pulling sources from the same places and posting to the same destinations or targets. For all you know, you may have a link on a page with someone that has absolutely no relevance to your niche altogether which could impact your rankings and get you penalized as well.
In this day and age of SEO where relevance is critically important, knowing where your links are placed and who else is on the same page as your website is something that can't be and shouldn't be ignored. Link farms can also be found in directories. While there's a growing set of opinions on directories and whether an individual or business should submit links to them anymore, the answer to this is easy. Directories still matter, but "many" of them truly are a waste of your time and should be left alone.
On the other hand, there's guest blogging and conceptually this is a great idea.. bloggers helping other bloggers by writing posts for another's blog for the benefit of a backlink. Unfortunately, this method did get abused and while it still has value, it's not as easy as it used to be. However, when this is done right, as far as whitehat goes, this is a golden strategy and a win-win for everyone.
Guest blogging (aka guest posting) goes hand in hand with quality content. Quality content that is constructed with the audience as your priority is a long term strategy that may not seem worthwhile in it's infancy but pays big dividends as your website develops authority and a presence online. This is a tough pill to swallow for many because patience, perseverance and trust are qualities that are needed to see this through to the goal line.
Beyond the infographic, building links organically as opposed to paying for links. Buying links for the purposes of getting listed on a page where others have done the same thing in hopes to get page rank, page authority and/or domain authority passed on to your site is a short term strategy that is again a losing long term effort that can lead to penalties and de-indexing from the search engine.
While there's no argument that traffic is important, being overly concerned about the "I've got to have traffic now" mindset can lead to poor decisions that may in fact provide you that satisfaction that you're looking for in the moment but ultimately leads to no benefit at all in the long run. Focusing on the development of more meaningful content is the winning "whitehat" strategy that will require more time but ultimately leads to greater benefits for you, your business and brand for the future.
Even if the argument can be made that blackhat strategies have their place depending on your goals, these often ill conceived and unethical methods dilute the internet and toxify the user experience. Whitehat, in spite of it's lack of "instant gratification" experience promotes a better avenue to pursue for everyone online for individuals, businesses and the system of connectivity that is the internet all in all.
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