Black Hat, Grey Hat, White Hat, Which Hat?

Anyone that is starting their own website will have undoubtedly heard the term SEO thrown around. If they dig a little deeper into the subject they will also start to hear terms such as Black Hat, Grey Hat and White Hat. These 3 terms are used to describe how ‘above board’ the type of SEO method being used is. The 3 different types can be defined as the following.

Black Hat

These are techniques that are basically viewed as cheating and underhanded. These techniques are typically used by people looking to game the search engines and get their websites listed in the top spots as quickly as possible with as little work as possible. These techniques are frowned upon by the search engines and when people are caught using them they often find their websites blocked in search results.

Grey Hat

These are techniques that are not strictly black hat but are a little questionable in the terms of the search engines. While these techniques might not be entirely breaking the rules laid out by the search engines, they are most likely questionable implementations of good techniques. While webmasters might be able to get away with these techniques in the short term, they are at risk of losing rankings in a dramatic way if the search engines make major algorithm updates (as they did with Panda and Penguin).

White Hat

These are techniques that are fine to use. They are less of an SEO technique and more of a good practice items you should already be doing on your website. While these things may take more time to get good rankings in the search results they are the most resistant to algorithm changes. Websites that rank well and have only used white hat techniques find that they can keep these rankings for years.

Personally I suggest you only ever use White Hat SEO techniques for obvious reasons. I have been building websites for over 15 years and have only used white hat techniques. My biggest sites have grown nicely over time and have not taken any hits from major algorithm update. It may take time to build your rankings but doing things the right way and being patient pays off in the long run.

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