Black hat SEO is a terminology used by the search engine optimisation industry referring to the use of unconventional techniques and ranking strategies which do not conform to SEO standards and web policies. In a more simple term, black hat SEO are various methods used to increase a websites ranking using techniques which are not allowed by Google, Yahoo or Bing.
On the other hand, White hat SEO are clean verified techniques which do not break any guidelines set by the search engines. All white hat techniques are SEO friendly which are fine to be implemented on websites in order to rank it higher in the search engines. White hat SEO methods tend to focus more on user experience and delivering long term search engine rankings for a website.
Two Different Schools of SEO Thought:
As the names suggests, both SEO methods are polar opposites of each other. They do however have a common objective – bringing more visitors to the website or webpage. You may ask if black hat SEO is not allowed by search engines, then why do marketers use black hat SEO?
In the world of optimisation, most ranking strategies are common and can be found by doing simple searches online. Just like a good food recipe, big SEO companies guard the latest SEO recipes in secrecy so that they have the advantage until it gets found by another SEO company. Finding new SEO methods involves searching for new opportunities in the crowded search engine optimisation field and requires experienced digital marketers to spot a gap in the system. It can also be expensive testing out new black hat SEO plans to see which one works and which plans have failed to deliver higher rankings.
It is often stated that most white hat techniques were initially seen as black hat before being widely used by the SEO community. You would assume most online businesses would want to keep their website in the search engines for as long as possible, then again we have seen many cases of “churn and burn” websites. A churn and burn campaign is a website which gets ranked in the search results incredibly quickly by using black hat techniques to gain traffic, leads or sales.
A common example of a churn and burn site we often see popup every now and then are debt management websites in the UK. These websites rely on gaining financial information from visitors in order to provide them with a monthly debt care plan service. Now, these companies are not illegal to run as long as they are regulated and conform to the laws set for their business, however the methods used to rank their website are questionable the very least and in most cases are shut down by Google within 4-7 months.
What the advantage of using a black hat churn and burn campaign? In this case, if the debt company were to setup a PPC AdWords campaign, each click could have cost the company £60. That is £60 per click and even then it does not assure a conversion. This is an exceptionally expensive industry; therefore it can be cheaper to setup new websites every 6 months collecting as many leads before it gets shut down for using black hat techniques.
Let’s do the math! From my experience, setting up a solid black hat SEO plan would cost £1500 per month. This includes using some Private Blog Networks posts (PBNs), Sape Links, Click jacking and other forms of black hat approaches which I will discuss below. In the past, we have monitored many websites just to understand how these churn and burn campaigns are run. To our surprise, we have seen websites in the financial industry which is known to be the hardest to rank, be on the first page of Google UK within 5 months. With our investigation, we had a clear understanding of how this was being accomplished. This one particular website we analysed lasted on the first page of results for 7 months for many highly competitive keywords before being de-indexed forever (removed and banned by Google).
The average profit of selling debt leads in the UK is £50 per information to other debt companies. Since their website was ranking for keywords which have over 100,000 searches per month, let’s assume that out of the 100k visitors, only 1% actually converted and filled out their online form. That is 1000 leads per month x £50 = £50,000 profit per month. This example is based on only 1% of visitors converting but we would assume if they are in the top 3 positions in Google, it is more likely to be in the 30% mark.
Just to finalise the numbers, spending £1,500 per month for a later profit of £50,000 is not a bad short term investment from a financial point of view. From my SEO outlook, I would highly discourage anyone looking to follow this path, it is extremely risky, the pay-out is not guaranteed until you are on the first page and Google might de-index or push a new algorithm at any moment which would destroy all churn and burn campaigns running. In our opinion, having a white hat SEO plan which ranks a website forever without the stress or worry of de-indexing is a greater benefit and investment.
Why is White Hat Techniques better than Black Hat Techniques?
In general, white hat techniques are practises which will naturally rank your website. Having unique in-depth content with the right amount of keyword variation, LSI keywords (long tail keywords), correct keyword density and heading titles will over time organically rank your website. If you are aware of on-page SEO, this is exactly it but more finely tuned and can be external to your website such as social media and social networking pages.
Not all white hat SEO involves making changes to your website, having a MailChimp call to action button on your website to gain new email subscribers for your monthly newsletter is another example of clean white hat which can generate conversions simply by sending out a newsletter. This will not increase your ranking directly but it is a clean white hat technique. On that note, sign up to our monthly newsletter below. We will be sending a guide on how to white hat SEO.
Here are some commonly used Black Hat SEO Techniques:
Private Blog Networks (Paid Links)
Comment Spamming (Another form of spamming the internet)
Cloaking (Hiding your links)
Referral Spam (Yet another spam method)
Link Farms (Similar to a PBN)
Sape Links (Highly risky and illegal)
We have provided a complete ebook guide on what is a PBN and how to create one (1.9 mb PDF).
Please DO NOT use black hat techniques. White hat SEO will always be the best option. Using black hat techniques has risks involved and will often get your websites banned forever. We do not use any forms of black hat SEO or techniques. It is just not worth it to risk any online business using these illegal SEO methods.
If you wish to try some black hat SEO for fun, we advise you to purchase a brand new domain and hosting just for testing.