White Hat vs Black Hat SEO


Let’s be real. SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, can sometimes feel like a dirty word. It can seem like a dark art, full of secrets and tricks, used to bamboozle algorithms and hoodwink real people. But it doesn’t have to be this way. SEO can also be a force for good – it’s the driving force of quality content, genuine relationships, and real value. The difference depends on the hat you choose to wear. 

So what’s the difference between white hat and black hat SEO? Simply put, white hat SEO refers to the strategies that align with the rules of search engines, aiming to offer good content to users. On the flip side, black hat SEO employs methods that exploit loopholes in algorithms to attain quick, yet potentially harmful results.

What Is White Hat and Black Hat SEO?

White hat is essentially the “good guy” of SEO practices. It adheres strictly to the guidelines provided by search engines such as Google. The main objective here is to improve your website’s visibility through ethical means. This involves improving your site’s performance, creating quality content, and enhancing user experience. 

However, the payoff with white hat SEO is often slow and gradual. You’re playing the long game with this approach, focusing on reaping sustainable benefits.

On the other side of the spectrum, think of black hat as the “bad guy.” It refers to the use of unethical practices that try to trick search engines. This includes practices such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, and the use of private link networks. 

While these practices might get you quick results, they’re risky. If search engines discover your site engaging in black hat practices, they might delist your website or lower your ranking. While shortcuts might seem attractive, trust me – they’re not worth the risk in the long run.

White Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO


Ethical practices that abide by search engine guidelines

Unethical practices aimed at tricking search engines


Keyword analysis, backlinking, improving site performance, high-quality content

Keyword stuffing, cloaking, use of private link networks


Slow and gradual, but long-lasting

Quick but short-lived, risk of penalties


Low risk of penalties

High risk of penalties


User experience

Search engine rankings

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Why You Should Never Use Black Hat SEO Techniques

Black hat SEO techniques might seem like the ticket to getting ahead of the competition. The appeal is understandable, but the use of these techniques carries significant risks that can seriously harm your website and business:

  • Unsustainable growth: Black hat SEO techniques might help you achieve a sudden surge in your ranking, but it’s not sustainable. Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving to filter out these manipulative tactics and penalise websites.
  • Severe penalties: These range from a drop in ranking to getting your website completely blacklisted by search engines. Being removed from search engine results can spell disaster for your business. It might take months, or even years, to recover from such penalties.
  • Lower value: Instead of offering valuable content and a great user experience, these techniques turn your website into a deceptive tool designed to trick both users and search engines. This can harm your reputation and deter potential customers.

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At Manifest Website Design, We Only Wear the White Hat

The path of SEO can feel like a precarious tightrope walk, with the promise of quick success on one side and the threat of devastating penalties on the other. Here at Manifest Website Design, we don’t care about outsmarting search engines – short-term success that leads to disastrous long-term effects just isn’t worth it.

We respect the rules of the land (read: search engines) and value our audience’s trust above all. We also believe that the journey matters as much as the destination. So while we strive for top-notch results, we ensure the path we tread is one of integrity, respecting both the rules laid out by search engines and the intelligence of our users. Learn what white hat SEO techniques can do for your website today.



About the Author

Ana is a Content Manager at Manifest Website Design specialising in digital marketing, SEO, and meaningful stories. Her byline is often found 3,000 feet above sea level.

After hours, she enjoys psych thrillers, reading, dying in video games, and having good conversations. You can reach out to her on LinkedIn.