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White Hat vs. Black Hat vs. Gray Hat SEO

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Visitors and web surfers often do not cross the second and third pages of the search engine results page. The competition to rank among Google search results is tough. Search Engine Optimisation is a vast topic that applies to website development and application. Hundreds of thousands of websites must find effective ways to rank in search engines among their topic niche. There are lines of legality and moral practices in the realm of SEO.

Many firms and agencies issue warnings and signs to websites that violate Google’s guidelines. To make matters more crucial, Google often improves and implements strict practices to catch these sites. Nevertheless, despite crossing the line between ethical and acceptable SEO practices, many underground businesses continue to offer fast, easy ways to rank high on Google.

In a recent report, Philippine news media agencies have recently been victims of massive black hat SEO attacks. The black hat SEO marketer has been spamming big media names for ransom. 

The question is, why do these underground firms apply black hat SEO techniques? It is because “The potential payoffs, however, are significant. Assuming that targets pay, the windfall could range from the tens of thousands to millions of dollars.” Illegal practitioners can earn millions of dollars.

man in black hoodie using laptop with graphs and charts in the multiple screens

What is White Hat and Black Hat SEO?

The two primary colours of SEO techniques are white hat SEO and black hat SEO. These two are types of SEO strategies that practitioners can use. However, there is a nuance between what is acceptable and unacceptable by the standards of Google. In all honesty, there are many ways to trick and cheat search engines in favouring any site’s ranking. Who would not want to gain large sums of money by leveraging and manipulating the way algorithms work?

White hat SEO means websites that follow search engine guidelines to compete fairly against other websites. The reference to the colour white dates back to films in the early 1920s Western films that clearly differentiate the good guys or the heroes from other characters.

Black hat SEO means websites or individuals partaking in risky and illegal SEO practices. In comparison to the white hats in early Western films, villains and the bad guys wore black hats during the film. Black hat tactics could lead to severe repercussions. These practices can become gateways to cyber crimes.

Difference Between White Hat & Black Hat SEO

The fine line between black and white hat SEO practices can be a source of distinction online. What is right for you may be a wrong practice for me, and because Google is not always there to issue immediate warnings, there is no urgency to change and modify these practices. How do these two practices differ?

If there is an attempt to adhere to the guidelines posted by Google, users can label these as white hat SEO. Working around these standards and guidelines is what puts most techniques and strategies as black hat SEO. As long as owners are trying to outsmart or overthrow or work around Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Google’s Guidelines

man in the laptop with know the rules text written in the screen and across is a person holding a book

The purpose of Google indices is to build a large database and library of information that will help all users and visitors online. Content is supposed to add value and eventually become profitable for content creators; It is not the other way around. All SEO professionals should take

into heart every rule set out by Google. These rules govern the proper way to rank against search engine algorithms. The rules are Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Google is very particular in which practices are acceptable to help SEO professionals avoid landing penalties for rule-breaking. Google considers practices such as cloaking, keyword stuffing, or using doorway pages as black hat techniques. All website owners, SEO agencies, and individuals should avoid applying the list of avoidable methods to avoid being in hot water with Google.

What is Gray Hat SEO?

People are often used to having that gray area in legality and all considerations for right and wrong. The gray hat SEO is a mixture of white and black hat practices. It is a fine line between what people can accept regarding legal SEO campaigns.

The practices and guidelines of Google often change regularly. All people who want their websites to rank accordingly should keep track of these changes to ensure that the websites are still within white hat SEO tactics.

Gray hat SEO campaigns are neither good nor bad. It is an unnecessarily thin line to cross, especially if owners want to stay within what Google calls high-quality SEO practices. Gray hat SEO practices can be technically correct or wrong; nevertheless, as Google changes its algorithms over time, these programs slowly detect the effect of gray area practices. Google will most likely rule out Gray hat SEO techniques as black hat methods in the long run.


Applying the proper techniques to land among Google’s top searches is tricky. Applying the guidelines by Google is only one step to competing correctly in search engines. Website owners must fully understand and study methods that work for their website niche.

White hat Techniques

  • Create highly optimised content that is suitable for online users
  • Perform keyword research and integrate keywords into text and headings naturally
  • Continuously update content to match current data and information
  • Use original images to fit the unique content quality
  • Apply a clear website structure that aids users in navigating the website
  • Make websites mobile friendly and adaptable

Black Hat Techniques

  • Making different content for visitors and search engine robots (cloaking)
  • Creating text on web pages that are invisible to users but are visible to the search engines
  • Using titles that are clickbait to influence users to click the website
  • Avoid using scraped content or reposting content from more reputable sites online
  • Stuffing irrelevant keywords to increase word count but do not make content more valuable to visitors
  • Promoting malicious websites that contain phishing links, viruses or other forms of malware
  • Integrating pages as doorways for similar query searches
  • Increasing the amount of keyword density for target keywords, which often outweighs the content value

Gray Hat Techniques

  • Creating content with enough keywords to rank in the search engines
  • Adding backlinks only intended to rank content higher
  • Making patterns and practices centred on SEO brand building only
  • Implementing enough clickbait content to entice users to visit a website
  • Building links that do not improve the overall purpose and value of the website but links intended for ranking SERP only
  • Applying a mix of any black hat SEO campaigns and white hat SEO campaigns

How do these 3 Differ?

The difference between the three types of SEO practice spans more than the colour they represent. There are many implications and impacts of certain coloured SEO approach that change the way online users and visitors behave. The reality is that the internet is a very effective way of performing various cyber crime behaviour.

Something as simple as putting input in unsafe web forms can result in identity theft. Hacking and gaining privileged access are becoming the pastime of younger demographics. Keeping the internet safe is everybody’s responsibility, and it can start with website owners who strictly apply white hat SEO practices.


The first difference between black, white, and gray hat SEO is the risks of each colour type. Let us differentiate the risks for each colour of SEO practice.

  • Black hat SEO practices are risky for potential penalties from Google. Once Google flags the black hat SEO practices of the website, Google will remove all indexed content from the search engines.
  • White hat SEO practices are risky because these practices work, but they will take a longer time to rank your website in the search engine. Legal and straightforward may mean ethical tactics and righteousness, but they do not always improve rankings.
  • Gray hat SEO practices are risky because they potentially become black hat SEO practices in the future. As Google and other companies create more guidelines and standards for what their search engines deem as “valuable and acceptable content”, the more likely that these working gray hat SEO tactics will become desolate and ineffective in the future.


The second difference between black, white and gray hat SEO is the longevity of each practice. For all new website owners who want to grow organically and build a reputation online, no matter the slowness or duration, investing in ethical SEO practices is the way. All good things take time, including building a highly reputable, valuable, ethical website.

Note these points to gauge how long each practice or method can last online.

  • Black hat SEO practices are for the short-term only. Spending time and money can result in total waste when Google discovers unethical SEO methods on any website.
  • White hat SEO practices are for long-term strategies. The vision of every individual who wants to put up a profitable and valuable website should be to invest in strategies that stand the test of time. The white hat SEO technique is the best choice for this vision.
  • Gray hat SEO practices are on the fence between short-term and long-term. When search engines slowly uncover these practices, gray hat SEO techniques are more likely to lose their effectiveness in the long run. In worst-case scenarios, gray hat SEO will become the cause of penalties from Google.


Every effort to rank your website matters. According to Dragilev’s article, “more than 90% of respondents said they are likely to only look at page one of a search result. If they don’t find what they’re looking for on page one, many people prefer to start a new search rather than move to page two.” Instead of coursing websites and ranking them the proper way, many underground businesses apply to sway practices to extort the weakness of Google.

Bad practice of SEO can only get websites and site owners so far. Never forget that investing in white hat SEO techniques is one way to gain long-term organic growth of your website. The persistence of black hat SEO methods may work in the short term. As Google continues to refine and innovate its search engines, each black hat SEO method may lose effectiveness and endanger websites soon.

terrorist holding bags of money asking ransom money through a phone call

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