White hat

The term “white hat” comes from old Westerns, where the good guys wore white cowboy hats, while the bad guys wore black ones. Accordingly, the following categories were created: “white hat,” “gray hat,” and “black hat.” They are defined by motivation and legality of their actions.

But what does “white hat” mean in terms of SEO and IT? 

What is white hat SEO?

In a search engine optimization (SEO) community, white hat SEO is people-focused optimization strategies, practices, and tactics. It refers to any technique that enhances the ranking on a search engine results page (SERP) and follows the rules and policies of major search engines, such as Google. For instance, white hat SEO techniques include using relevant keywords and keyword analysis, offering high-quality services and content for users, quick website loading, and easy navigation.

Let’s take a closer look at some white hat SEO techniques and what you can do to rank without breaking the rules.

Creating high-quality content

Write articles that fully cover and explain the subject so that there’s nothing left to ask about it (2,000-2,500 words is optimal). Prioritize your targeted users over anything else and make useful and powerful content that can help solve their problems.

Using content-relevant keywords 

Choose relevant keywords while creating meta descriptions for each page on your website, but be careful not to add too many. You can use tools like Ahrefs to find keywords or even use Google itself – just start typing your main keyword in a search field, and Google will automatically offer additional suggestions. 

Guest posting 

Contact people in your industry and offer to write relevant content for them or exchange guest articles. This will provide a link back to your website. Choose authoritative websites with high traffic. Such strategy will help build long-term relationships with people in your niche. It will also secure backlinks that will help your website appear higher in the search results. 

Manual social bookmarking

Manually submit your website to top social bookmarking sites to get traffic and improve your search engine rankings. 

Blog commenting and forum posting

Manually post and comment on blogs and forums, but do not leave spam comments like “Cool post!” Make sure your comments are appropriate and valuable enough to get likes. Regular commenting on high profile blogs in your area is also an excellent way to build a relationship with people and improve future rankings.

Comfortable website navigation

Make your website easy to navigate. The more comfortable you make it for users to navigate through a well-organized website, the higher the chance that they will stay on it for some time. What is more, it will lower the bounce rate. Sites with simple navigation are more likely to perform better in organic search results too. 

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Black hat SEO and gray hat SEO

Black hat SEO is quite the opposite. To get better rankings, generate more traffic to a website, and get a higher click-through rate, black hat SEO specialists trick search engines and often break the law. Unlike white hat SEO, it includes buying links and using misleading techniques. 

Black hat SEO is focused on boosting page rankings, but not with the real audience. For instance, one of black hat SEO techniques includes posting comments and links to the website on other third-party sites. And often, such links do not correspond to the content of the page. Other black hat SEO include but are not limited to:

  • keyword stuffing
  • content scraping
  • cloaking (showing one thing to search engines and another thing to visitors)
  • hidden text and links (by changing fonts, color, etc.)

Black hat SEO strategies are risky, and search engines like Google have already developed procedures to penalize this kind of activity. That is why some black hat SEO tactics aren’t as powerful as they were before and can lead to your website being blacklisted. 

Black hat vs. white hat

Gray hat SEO is a combination of white hat SEO (around 95%) and black hat SEO (5%) practices. It’s usually used by people trying to find shortcuts in promoting their otherwise legit business.

White hat vs. black hat in IT

In cyber security, a white hat hacker (also known as an ethical hacker) is a computer security expert who is skilled in system examination, penetration testing, and many other network analysis methods. These practices guarantee the safety and integrity of a company’s information system.

White hat hackers search for vulnerabilities voluntarily or for payment to help developers make their products more secure. Many companies hire white hat experts to protect their systems. 

On the other hand, black hat hackers are computer experts who violate computer security for a harmful purpose or personal benefit. They can spread malware to steal information, especially financial details, as well as personal data, such as login credentials. A black hat expert can also modify or destroy your data.

Black hat experts use the same methods: they test security systems, assess vulnerabilities, and perform penetration testing. However, they do it legally, without the permission from the system owner.

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Gray hat hackers use a combination of white hat and black hat tactics. Generally, they search for vulnerabilities in a system without permission from the system owner. When the issue is found, they may inform the owner and ask for a small fee to resolve the issue. If the owner does not respond or disagrees, gray hats may post the discovered vulnerability online and show it to the world.

Wrapping up

Implementing white hat SEO tactics takes time and effort, but provides a long-lasting growth in rankings and remains the best way to create an ethical and successful website and business. White hat SEO techniques can help you achieve your goal slowly but steadily.

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