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There have always been disagreements about the appropriate use of SEO. In the early days of SEO, just about anything was allowed. Stuffing a website with keywords to artificially inflate search engine placement was an agreed-upon practice. But the days of benefiting from questionable SEO methods are long gone.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black hat SEO is finding and using loopholes that allow you to exploit the search engines. People who practice this form of SEO use the gaps to rank higher in search engine results.
There are several ways to implement black hat SEO methods. You can use black hat methods on your website, such as with keyword stuffing. Or you can use off-site methods, such as using questionable means to gain backlinks to your site.
One problem with black hat SEO is that all the tactics are short-lived. When Google and other search engines identify the questionable SEO, your search engine results will dive. Any advantages that you’ve gained with black hat methods will disappear practically overnight.
What is White Hat SEO?
White hat SEO is concerned with more than just ranking on the first page of Google and other search results. White hat methods strike a balance between providing a good user experience and ranking well in search results.
Search engine algorithms are more sophisticated than in the past. And search engines tend to favor websites that provide a good user experience. So, for anyone implementing SEO, it’s essential to make sure you don’t sacrifice user experience for a high search engine ranking.
There are several factors to consider when trying to implement white hat SEO.
For example, does the website take a long time to load? People aren’t willing to sit around and wait on a slow website. On-page optimization includes making sure your website runs faster than molasses uphill in January.
You also must consider the length of your content. If your content is too short, search engines might assume it’s not valuable. On the other hand, you need to provide content that has value and not just fluff to fill the page.
There’s also the issue of website images — search engines like websites that include pictures along with the text and tend to rank them higher. But poorly optimized images can slow a page to a crawl, which will hurt the page in search results.
Learning to implement white hat SEO takes time. There is a lot more to learn when you’re trying to do things the right way.
What about the Keyword Issue?
Keywords are just as vital as ever. But keyword stuffing is considered black hat and toxic to your brand. You’ll do your website more harm than good by stuffing it with keywords.
Find the main keywords that people use when searching for your product or service. And instead of spamming your pages, use the keywords strategically in content that provides useful information.
There’s also no longer a need to exactly match your target keywords to rank for a specific keyword. Search engines consider that people use connecting words, different tenses, and varied sentence structures when using search engines. This gives you the freedom to play around with keywords to see what works best.
White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO
For long-term success, white hat SEO is your best option. The best way to gain favor with search engines is by providing quality content and a good experience for people who visit your website.
Author’s Bio: Usman Raza is the co-founder of a Christian Social Media Agency and marketing strategist working with various brands online. Usman is the content marketing manager at an Email Marketing Agency, Convert to WordPress, and Nano Hearing Aids. He is devoted to helping small businesses bridge success gaps by providing in-depth, actionable advice on digital marketing, SEO, and small business growth. Follow him on Twitter @usmanintrotech.