Black Hat vs White Hat? What SEO Works?


There’s been a long debate dividing the SEO industry. This consists of white hat and black hat techniques, links and strategies. Some people may even call some of these techniques or strategies gray hat, meaning they’re somewhere in-between. Within this article I hope to clear up some confusion and let you know how to stay as safe as possible with your optimization efforts (now, and into the future).

There are two main truths within SEO. Number one, everything we do is meant to influence another. Put simply, we don’t control Google. We do our absolute best to understand it, develop best practices, and go off of this data efficiently and effectively, but that doesn’t mean we’re in complete control. Number two, at the end of the day everything we’re doing is “helping” Google optimize our website for search. In a sense, we’re manipulating this process, which Google (actually) doesn’t like. So it’s a bit of a double-edged sword.

Now, with that being said, Google isn’t stupid. They know most companies know about search engine optimization, and simply want to help themselves show up higher within the search engines in a helpful way. Google wants to please their searchers and accomplish user intent, so the process works out in the end. However, this is where many people, as well as companies, have developed aggressive, unsustainable strategies to push sites up the rankings, only to have them fall back down or fall out of the index after a certain period of time.

This is what we’d refer to as black hat tactics. Strategies that will get you short term results only. It’s not that the techniques don’t work, they’re just geared to work in a certain way. Now, a more traditional white hat approach isn’t exactly the most effective approach either. If Google had it its way, everything would get linked to naturally all over the web, and show within the search engines that way. However, that’s nearly impossible for most newer companies who don’t receive press, attention and/or links. So what’s the answer? Conscious naturalness.

Best practices are in place for a reason. Going by actual, sustainable ranking website data is the key. We want to appear as natural as possible with our optimization efforts over the long term. Would a regular company take this action? Yes? Then do it. Would they use an exact match keyword in a blog comment? No? Then don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. Google wants to reward brands and natural efforts. To me, this answers the black versus white questions. Do what works, and what’s going to continue working. Be natural.

We’ve accomplished great rankings for ourselves, and for many other companies in Arizona and across the nation. Looking to put together a campaign in Phoenix or Scottsdale? We’ve got you covered. Simply send us an email on our contact form or give me a call. I also rank really well within Scottsdale, so you can also find a few more of my properties there. I’m always running new tests and looking to get the most data possible. Talk soon.