Differences Between Black Hat, Gray Hat & White Hat SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a hot topic nowadays, especially as businesses redirect attention to reaching customers through organic search. Here's what you need to know.

The truth of the matter is that not all SEO practitioners follow the same rules. This being said, it’s extremely important to understand the differences between the three major philosophies when exploring service providers.

Here are the differences between Black Hat, Gray Hat and White Hat SEO methods:


Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO is an aggressive, volatile and Google-discouraged method of approaching the SEO ranking process. Specific tactics are aimed primarily at quick–often non-stable–ranking results.
These tactics are designed for search engines and not human users and include: 

Although you may experience a spurt of financial gain, Black Hat SEO is risky.

Beware: Black Hat SEO runs a high risk of getting your website banned by search engines.

Gray Hat SEOGray Hat SEO
The middle-ground philosophy between Black Hat and White Hat SEO techniques.

Gray Hat SEO pushes more than White Hat SEO, but not to the point where your website will get banned (in most cases) like you often find with Black Hat SEO. Regardless, you still need to be cautious of the employed tactics because they may still venture into Black Hat SEO territory and result in search engine penalties.

These tactics include:

  • Unnaturally high keyword density
  • Duplicated content across several websites (Google sees this as spam and punishes accordingly)
  • Irrelevant link building
  • Three-way linking

white hat sepWhite Hat SEO
White Hat SEO is the most accepted and ethical route. It puts equal consideration on search engines and human users without risking penalties.

Although it’s considerably slower than Black Hat and Gray Hat SEO, it creates long-lasting marketing assets and results.

These are probably tactics you’ve heard of including:

  • Keyword research
  • Natural keyword inclusion in page titles, headings, anchor text, content and alt tags
  • Monitoring and adapting to analytics
  • Creating regular content
  • Search engine optimized coding structures
  • Site maps


It’s Important to Ask Where People Stand
When inquiring with an SEO company or professional, be sure to figure out exactly where they stand.

At the end of the day, you’re putting your brand on the line. Never forget that.

New project? Question? Compliment? Let’s chat. New project? Question? Compliment? Let’s chat.