White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO: Know the Differences

Broadly speaking, SEO principles can be classified into three types.

  • White Hat SEO – Refers to adhering to the guidelines laid out by Search engines to achieve search rankings in a legitimate and honest way, without breaking the conventions and sticking to the norms.
  • Black Hat SEO –  Refers to not adhering to the guidelines and principles laid out by search engines and achieve rankings by brute force through illegitimate and dishonest ways, by breaking the rules and conventions and not caring about the norms at all.
  • Grey Hat SEO – Refers to techniques which are “ill-defined” and relatively “a new concept” with no clear definition of whether it is white hat or black hat.

In this article, we will learn more about black hat SEO and white hat SEO. We will also learn what is the difference between black hat SEO and White hat SEO.

There is no official definition of Blackhat SEO or White Hat SEO is. The principles have been classified as and when Search engines came up with their conventions of what is considered “Good practice” and what is considered “Bad practice”.

For example, writing original, unique and useful content is considered a White Hat Technique by all search engines. Search engines always emphasize on creating content which is useful to the user, has a purpose and is resourceful in nature. So we can say that “Creating Quality Content” is a White Hat SEO technique.

However, in the same lines, creating poor or low-quality content just to rank for specific keywords may be referred to as “Blackhat SEO technique”. So if you create lots of pages on your website with no real value, no good resource, and people generally don’t find it useful enough – then this is referred to as a “Blackhat SEO technique”. The website owner is trying to rank for pages without creating quality content and without adhering to the guidelines of search engines of creating quality content which is useful and resourceful.

Just like for every thesis, there exists an Antithesis. Similarly, for every White Hat Technique, there exists an equal and opposite Black hat technique.

We have listed down some of these techniques below

Differences Between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO

The differences between White Hat SEO and Black hat SEO have been classified into different departments so it is easy to absorb and understand

Attribute White Hat SEO Black Hat SEO
Content Quality Content is unique, useful and resourceful Content is not unique, not useful and has no real value for the end user.
Content Originality Content is original and not plagiarised Content is plagiarised and duplicate in nature
External Links External links are built in the most natural way, overtime External links are built overnight by participating in Link Exchange or Reciprocal Linking
Keyword stuffing Keywords are included naturally in the copy of the webpage Keywords are stuffed in the copy of the webpage and spread all over to achieve search ranks
Hidden text No hidden texts are used to confuse search engines Hidden texts are used to make search engines think differently and to hide specific words from users
Cloaking Content served to search engines and users are the same Different content is served to search engines and users
Duplicate content Content served is original, unique, resourceful and not found elsewhere on the Web Content is often duplicated from another site or plagiarized from another published source
Auto-generated content Content is not auto-generated but handcrafted in nature. An editorial team takes care of the content that is produced and no software or scripts or third-party tools are used to generate content Content is produced either by a software, a script, a third party tool or a bot. It is not handcrafted and neither editorial in nature.
Domain squatting The domain of the website is not necessarily rich in keywords but reflects a brand The domain of the website contains keywords and multiple domains are created to support each other
Typosquatting Typos are not considered and the website owner is not trying to capture typo traffic of misspelled words of a popular brand typos are considered and the website owner tries to capture typo traffic of a misspelled word or that of a popular brand
Comment Spam Comment spam is discouraged. A discussion is encouraged. Comment spam is encouraged while discussion takes a back seat
  1. ContentIf the content created is really useful, unique and informative, it is a white hat technique. If the content is created with much effort and care, the author has done enough research on the subject and then came up with the content which becomes really popular among the community of users, this is a great example of a White Hat SEO technique which adheres to the SEO guidelines and principles of all search engines.However, if the content created is shallow in nature, not well crafted, is full of typos and grammatical errors, the subject of the page is not focussed and talks about arbitrary things in the body, people do not understand what the page is trying to say and it generally creates a poor user experience, in that case, this is a Blackhat SEO technique.
  2. OriginalityIf the content created is original in nature, without being copied from other sources, then this is a white hat SEO technique. If the content created is not original and copied from other websites or published sources word by word, then this is a black hat SEO technique.
  3. External Links.If you have built external links naturally to your site and have not participated in any “Link Exchange” programs with other websites, then it is white hat SEO. However, if you have purchased links from other sites or agencies, participated in Reciprocal link schemes and have obtained links from different sources without judging whether these links are relevant to your website or not, then this type of “Link Building” is considered black hat in nature.If your content is really high quality and resourceful, it should attract links naturally over time and you will start getting linked from different websites and blogs as they start to discover you from the search engine result pages. There is no need to participate in any Link building schemes, Link building programs or pay any SEO agency to build links for your website in a jiffy.
  4. Keyword stuffing.

    If you add lots of keywords in the body of your page and stuff each and every other keyword or phrase in the page, with the sole purpose of trying to rank for those keywords, this practice is called “Keyword stuffing” and is a “Blackhat SEO technique”. However, if you add only the keywords which makes sense for the theme of the page, do not populate it with all the keywords and phrases you are trying to rank for and keep the copy as natural as possible, then it is a White Hat SEO technique.

  5. Hidden Text.If you add hidden text in the copy of your webpage and try to rank for those keywords in search engines, then this is a black hat SEO technique. Hidden texts are used by spammers and black hat seo community to rank for keywords that they do not want to show to human visitors but want to show to only search engine bots.However, if you do not include any hidden text in your article or pages, keep the copy clean and serve the same content to search engines and human visitors, then this is a “White Hat SEO technique”.

  6. CloakingCloaking is the concept of serving different content to search engines and different content to human visitors. The intentions can vary depending upon the goals of the website owner. In any case, “Cloaking” is a black hat technique and should be avoided at all costs. Search engines do not like websites who practice “Cloaking” and if found, often times these websites are de-listed from search result pages.If you offer the same content to search engines and users and try not to trick or game the search bots, it is a “White Hat SEO technique”

  7. Duplicate ContentIf your website has “Duplicate content” on some or all of its pages, then this is a “Blackhat technique”. The content in question can be plagiarised from an external source or from an internal source, that does not matter much. The point is that each and every page on your website must have unique content which is not available elsewhere in any other website or webpage or any page which search engines can discover.If your website content is original, clean and you have thoroughly checked the content for plagiarism and do not support publication of duplicate content, then this is a “White hat SEO technique”

  8. Auto-generated ContentIf the content is created by the means of some content generation software, automated bots, scripts or third-party tools which create random paragraphs of text based on keywords, then this type of content is called “Autogenerated content”. The usage of “Autogenerated content” is known as a “Blackhat technique”.On the other hand, if you do not use any software, script or tool to generate the content but write it on your own, then this technique is called “White hat”.
  9. Domain SquattingDomain squatting or (Cybersquatting)is the process of buying keyword rich domain names with the sole purpose of being ranked for that particular keyword which exists in the domain name. It generally refers to having ownership of a domain name related to a product whose copyright lies with someone else, with the sole intention of selling that domain name to that owner at a later point in time.If you buy multiple domain names with keywords and re-direct them to different sites or your own sites with the sole purpose of measuring if it helps achieve better rankings and traffic, this technique is “Black Hat”. However, if you do not do any of that, keep only one domain name for your website and stick to it without doing any mischievous activities, then this is “White hat SEO”.
  10. Typo SquattingSimilar to Domain squatting, if you register a domain name which is a misspelled version of a popular website trying to gain some of the traffic of that website for “Typo traffic”, then this practice is called “Typosquatting”. Typosquatting is a black hat technique. However, if you do not do any of that, keep one domain name and gain traffic because your content is rich with information and is really useful to its audience, then that is white hat for sure.
  11. Comment Spam

    If you visit different websites, blogs, internet forums and other sites and enter comments about your website, with the sole intention of driving traffic to your website, then this is popularly known as “Comment Spam”. This is black hat technique and should be avoided. However, if you do not do any of that and participate in discussions in other websites, blogs, Forums, YouTube channels and leave meaningful, thought-provoking comments which benefit others in some way, then this technique is called “White Hat”.
  12. Content Farms.A Content farm or a “Content Mill” is a website which creates small websites and spins low-quality content quickly and then creates more websites of the same type with same low-quality content, trying to achieve rankings in search results. Content farming is a black hat technique. However, if you do not do any of that, stick to your single website and grow it over time, add useful content to it and make it rich in terms of information, then this technique is “White Hat”.
  13. Link Farms.Similar to “Content farm” a Link farm is a website which links to thousands of other sites and in this process, gains links from thousands of irrelevant sites and try to achieve higher rankings on search result pages. A Link farm website typically has thousands and millions of links being acquired in a very short amount of time and is considered a “Blackhat technique”. However, if you don’t do any of that, do not participate in any link exchange, reciprocal linking and link purchasing agency, keep your site’s link portfolio clean and attract links naturally towards your site over time, then this technique is called “White hat”.

When do People Use Black Hat SEO technique?

Now you may wonder, why do people use Black hat SEO techniques to gain rankings and traffic from search engines when it is clearly written that using black hat techniques can result in penalization and these websites may be de-listed from search engines.

The simple answer to this question is –

White hat techniques require lot of effort, time and labour and is very difficult to achieve. If you don’t work hard on your website, it is quite impossible to create a high quality website which gets lots of traffic from search engines on a regular basis. Most people do not have the time and intent to work hard on their sites. They are looking for short cuts, quick fixes to achieve big success overnight. They think they can game the system by using Black Hat SEO techniques and achieve the same results which someone else has achieved by toiling for years on his website and business.

Most black hat SEO techniques do not last at all and these websites are quickly de-listed from search engines whereby they stop getting any traffic at all. However, there are Black HAT SEO forums out there where bloggers and webmasters discuss the success of their black hat SEO tricks and how they gamed the system for some time before being caught by search engine filters.

Nobody knows what is the truth. It is possible that some people have succeeded through black hat techniques but I always feel it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are desperate enough, you may give Blackhat a try but I certainly won’t try any Black Hat techniques on any of my sites and risk being penalized from search results, which would mean the total shutdown of my businesses.

Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid

Now that you know the differences between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO, here is a comprehensive list of black hat techniques to avoid

  1. Content Quality.

    Content should be original, resourceful and should solve the needs of consumers and readers. Without high-quality content, it is next to impossible to rank for specific words which you are trying to rank for in search engine result pages.

  2. Original content.

    In addition to high-quality content which is resourceful and useful, the content has to be original and not plagiarised from elsewhere. You should not copy content from other websites, blogs, newsletters and other “published” copyrighted sources and call it your own. Content should be handcrafted and original in nature.

  3. Attract Links Naturally.Don’t obsess over backlinks all the time and try not to rush through to acquire links from any source as possible. Try creating useful, engaging and resourceful content which people want and this will attract links naturally over time because people find it useful and they will either blog about your website or tell their friends or post answers to questions over a forum.
  4. Keyword stuffing.Do not stuff your blog posts and website pages with keywords and only keywords. Try to create content which follows a good synergy and include keywords which only relate to the topic of the page in question. Do not stuff unnecessary keywords because you think it will help you achieve better rankings.
  5. Hidden text.Routinely check your website for Hidden texts and avoid any hidden text in your website’s template or pages. You should serve the same content to search engines and human visitors and no part of the text should be styled in such a way that the text loads in the browser, but is not visible because of it’s font color or page background color.
  6. Do not cloak web pages.

    Serve the same content to search engines and the same content to human visitors. Do not install unnecessary scripts in your website or third party plugins which claim to improve the rankings of your website by serving optimised content to search bots.

  7. Do not publish Duplicate content.

    Keep the content original and do not post content copied from elsewhere.

  8. Do not publish auto-generated content.

    Create the content yourself or hire a trusted author to write the content for you. Do not use software, scripts or third-party tools to automatically churn out content.

  9. Do not practice domain squatting.There is no point in buying keyword rich domain names and spinning out low-quality keyword heavy domains with the purpose of getting ranked. It won’t work and you will not only end up waste your time and money but you will also eventually get penalized for publishing low-quality spammy sites with keyword rich domains that provide no real value to end users.
  10. Do not practice typosquatting.

    There is again no point in buying misspelled domains and attempting to capture a portion of the typo traffic for misspelled words. Mimicking a popular website with a similar domain name usually doesn’t work anymore.

  11. Do not post spam comments on different websites with signature link.There is no real value of comment spam these days, except of course damaging your own brand. Leave valuable, resourceful and meaningful comments on other websites, blogs and forum posts from refrain from spamming forums with signature links and links to your own domain. It’s not cool anymore and creates a very bad user experience.
  12. Say No to Link farms.

    Do not buy services from link farms and create similar sites and interlink them to improve the rankings of your websites. It won’t work. Google knows what a link farm looks like and it will disregard all the links which you have purchased from link farms and agencies which sell links for a fee. Attract links naturally through valuable and resourceful content and you should be fine.

  13. Say No to Content farms.

    Similar to Link farms, you should strictly avoid Content farms who create low-quality content at a very less fee and sell to bloggers, website owners, and business owners. Invest your time and money in creating high-quality content and the returns will come over time when you have built a sizeable authority over a subject when your user trusts you and people love what you are delivering.

These are some of the basic things you need to do to ensure you are not following any black hat technique to grow the traffic of your website or to achieve better rankings in search results for the chosen keywords. Remember, if you take a shortcut, there is a high chance that you will be walking a road with no future and will eventually have to come to the right track. This will only waste your time, money, effort and motivation.

It is highly recommended not to take shortcuts, but to invest your time and effort in creating really useful and valuable resources for your readers, customers and for the entire community.


Be Sure to read our SEO Guide which contains useful information about SEO and we have discussed in detail key SEO Concepts with examples.

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