What is the Difference Between Black Hat White Hat and Grey Hat?
The difference between the three schools of thought and practice is pretty much black and white and one of them is a gray area. In general all of these hats typically refer to hacking and methodologies of hacking. However, they can also be applying to the methodologies and strategies of traffic generation. This includes SEO, PPC, Inbound Marketing, Email marketing, social media marketing and any other method that generate traffic.
In the most classic computer geek fashion, there is a light side, and there is a dark side. What side will you choose? The force is strong with this one. Below a description of each school of thought and practice.
Black hat can mean a whole slew of different things. Black hat can be hacking, traffic generation, spam and search engine optimization. You hear this term thrown around quite a lot in the online world. In general, Black hat strategies are considered non-compliant and frowned upon. These strategies are essentially not compliant and not allowed in the online world. Some of them, like cloaking, can get you banned on ad networks and other social sites. If you abuse the system, eventually you’ll lose. Now, black hat hacking is a bit different. Black hat hacking is hacking with a malicious intent. I’m not going to go into this today.
In this capacity I am referring to Black Hat methods of Search Engine Optimization. These are considered non-compliant Google ranking strategies to get your site ranked. Google battles many of these strategies on a daily basis to help prevent manipulation of the search results They may work in the short term, but in the long term they will eventually fail as Google updates their algorithm.
Some of these strategies may include
- Forced Backlinks
- Comment Spamming
- Email Spamming
- URL Cloaking
- DNS Spoofing
- IP Spoofing
White hat strategies are exactly the opposite of black hat. White hat strategies are considered compliant strategies by most organization. Indeed, much like Black hat hacking is for malicious purposes, White hat hacking is for the greater good. The goal of this is to find security vulnerabilities and patch them. This helps keep a company’s network safe.
In regards to the Search Engine Optimization, these strategies, though not immediate, over time get you ranked on Google. Utilizing these methods will get you on the good side of Google and eventually reaping the rewards of organic ranking on the search engines.
White hat Search Engine Optimization strategies can include
- Site architecture
- Link Hierarchy
- Content Development
- Internal linking
- Relevant backlinking
- Opt-in List building
- On Page SEO
These strategies are really designated to be long term. For the most part, this is what you want to be focusing a lot of your time on. White hat techniques take a bit more patience and persistence, but over time get you the best possible foot hold in your little online space.
Grey hat is neither here nor there. Some would consider it acceptable, for example, purchasing likes on Facebook. Whereas others would consider it shady practice. For the most part, Grey Hat is a mixture of white hat and black hat techniques. If there is a question about the validity of the practice, it would probably be considered non compliant in most search engines. The reasoning for this is that if you have to question what you are doing to generate traffic, or passively trying to hack into other networks “for fun” it’s still considered malicious. If the practice is in question, it should simply be avoided.
This territory is not very clearly defined and the definitions of what the activities are vary from person to person.
White Hat Strategies Win Out
In terms of traffic generation, the best practice to implement is white hat SEO strategies. The practices are truly involved and take a longer time, but because of this they also last longer creating an asset rather than a risk for a small business. If a particular ranking strategy is working for you, and its considered “ok” by the search engines, then most likely you are fine.
Often times you know you are doing something wrong when you have to start hiding your tracks or registering with a VPN. These sorts of activities present a huge risk for you and your business. Would you risk your site rank, or rather build a business on a spammy practice? What asset are you left with in the end besides the cash? There is nothing to fall back on and considering the fact that agencies have full awareness of what happens on the internet, it will eventually turn people’s heads. You will get caught.
If you are trying to build an asset and long term future for your business, it’s important to stay within the boundaries of Google’s parameters. Since more than 80% of your search volume will come from Google, it’s wise to stay on the good side of the search engine and avoid strategies to manipulate the results. Eventually you’ll lose against them.
Everything we do with our existing site is done so with White Hat strategies. Primarily, it’s all about delivering good, informative and rich content that helps your visitors receive exactly what they are searching for. Ever search for a result and Google practically predicted it? Sometimes it’s creepy, but the search engines are getting very smart with the algorithms. Undoubtably they will change again and if you are a legitimate business, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
What other white hat techniques do you know of that help get you ranked? Please comment below 🙂