White Hat Vs Black Hat SEO

White hat vs black hat seo


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George Panayides

Digital Marketing Specialist

White Hat Vs Black Hat SEO

The Unspoken Truth To Know

White hat vs black hat SEO. For the majority, it’s an easy pick. But some do succumb to black hat techniques because of the speed and overnight promises of success.

Well, I will be breaking down this topic in detail to help you understand what they both are, and which one you should choose. Pretty much all the time it should be white hat, but I know some people still like to do some black hat seo techniques.

If you’re a business that is looking for long term growth and to solidify yourself as an industry leader on the web, then white hat is going to be your focus and best choice. 

If you want to test SEO and see if you can manipulate the algorithm, you can try black hat but it’s always suggested to do so on a dummy website rather than your own or your clients. 

Anyway, let’s take a deep dive into white hat seo and black hat seo and see which one is going to be best. 

PS. I’ve got a pretty cool article on whether or not SEO is worth it anymore here. Feel free to give that a read to see my 2024 forecast and predictions. 

Quick summary:

White hat SEO focuses on a user-first approach, adhering to search engine guidelines and creating content that targets user engagement metrics. It’s about long-term growth and quality results. Black hat SEO, on the other hand, aims to manipulate search engine algorithms for quick ranking improvements and often leading to penalties with inconsistent results.

White Hat SEO Is a User First Approach

White hat SEO usually comes in the form of user first content. This means that websites are providing content created around, and for their audience. They have not primarily created this content for search engine algorithms. 

This usually means that it will have good metrics like time of page, bounce rates and engagement rates. By creating SEO content with a user first approach it allows your content to become overgreen and last for a long time. 

Also, this can apply to link building in SEO as well. Backlink builders who create links with a user first approach are going to have much longer lasting results that will be permanent and quality. 

Essentially, white hat is following the guidelines given by search engines which is almost indefinitely, producing user first SEO above all else. 

creating content for users first means you target metrics like bounce rate, engagement rate and time on page

Black Hat SEO Is a Algorithm First Approach

On the other hand, black hat SEO is designed around search engines and their algorithms. Techniques are used to manipulate the search engine algorithms to rank the content and website faster. 

It’s developed to trick the algorithm into thinking your website or content is better than it is, which results in the search engine bumping up your rankings and pushing your site to the top positions. 

There are many different types of black hat SEO, but usually all of them get snuffed out and end up with a large penalty. The algorithm changes so often, so you’ll tend to find that after a core update, your rankings will drop. 

White Hat SEO Lasts For a Much Longer Time

In my experience, white hat SEO seems to last much longer than black hat. For example, I had a customer who was doing black hat SEO and his traffic would go up for 3 months, then drop down. 

When we took over and did white hat, we tripled the monthly volume of traffic and this has stayed solid for over 2 years without any work on their website. Even old, outdated articles from 2021 are still ranking in top positions. 

Because then SEO was totally white hat, the algorithm wants to keep rewarding this type of content. It was evergreen and therefore has stayed up even though there have been around 20 algorithm updates in the past few years. 

So generally, white hat SEO will last much longer for you compared to black hat. You can check out my full case study on this here.

Black Hat SEO Tends Lasts Between 3-6 Months

On average, black hat SEO will last around 3-6 months. Maybe shorter if there are algorithm changes happening a lot. This is all because of the way black hat is designed with an algorithm first approach. 

Because you are manipulating the algorithm, you may have found a small glitch or loop hole that is able to boost you up in the rankings. However, when the algorithm gets updated (which is regularly) then your loop hole might change or disappear. 

Usually this means websites tend to have a large increase in traffic, then a huge drop where all of their traffic falls out and becomes deranked. Obviously in the 3 months time you may see a large increase in sales. 

Sometimes black hat might last a little longer, but usually it seems to only last for a very short period of time. Most SEO experts will do black hat on a test or dummy site to prevent their clients losing all their traffic. 

black hat website having their traffic tanked after a few months

White Hat SEO Takes Much Longer

With that being said, white hat SEO does take so much longer. This is because you are building out the foundations of a very long lasting SEO strategy and of course creating content for your users, not the algorithm. 

For a lot of people, this is frustrating as white hat SEO can take up to 12 months before you start seeing some really good results. However, it’s worth it in the long run. The returns from white hat SEO are always very high. 

When you compare it to black hat, it’s a much longer game though. Once you get past 3-4 years of white hat SEO you will have a very sound fondation in the organic game and it would be very hard for you to be topped in high positions. 

Black Hat SEO Can Get Very Quick Short Term Results

Black hat on the other hand can get some super quick results. Some black hat methods can see you with results in less than a month. Others can take a little longer but boost your rankings in 1-3 months. 

During this time you may see a huge spike in traffic. It usually jumps up to a massive amount of around 10-100k organic monthly users on your site. However, you may find that the quality of this traffic is quite bad and nothing ends up converting. 

I can see the appeal for some businesses to choose black hat as it promises ‘overnight’ results but in the end you may be left with nothing. In my opinion, it’s better to stick with white hat. 

You’ll Have To Restart With Black Hat, But White Hat Goes Forever

As I kinda covered above, black hat never lasts. You may see a huge increase in your traffic but as soon as the next core algorithm update comes there seems to be a trend of webmasters losing all of their traffic. 

Now, sometimes your website may have actually copped a penalty as well. This means that restarting is even harder than ever. I’ve heard that websites might get a 2 year ban for some black hat seo and this means you’re out of the game for 2 years. 

That can seriously affect your business and lead generation. It’s certainly a risk to take if you ask me. 

On the other hand, white hat will last for much longer. It will keep your traffic alive for years throughout numerous core updates. 

Types Of White Hat SEO Techniques

User first content writing

Creating articles and content that provides fresh, original content and insights into a topic that your audience or customers want to know about. Here’s my guide to content writing.

HARO link building

Building links through answering queries for journalists and media outlets. By providing a unique perspective or specialist approach to a topic and getting featured on their articles. Specialist link builders will utilise this strategy.

Relevancy of the page content

The relevance of the content on the page to your website or webpage. If the content talks about the same type of thing, or provides more context around the topic you are talking about then this would signal a high quality link.

Statistical content

Create content that people are going to link to because it has a statistical study or report. If you create content that has statistical data or information, people are much more likely to link to it as it backs up their points.

Tools & free software

Provide your website users with free tools that they can come to your site and use. For example, if I am in the SEO industry, I can create a free rank tracker for people to check their rankings with.

If I am in the real estate industry, I can create a free home valuation calculator. Or a mortgage calculator that people can use for free.

Types Of Black Hat SEO Techniques

Parasite SEO

Hijacking a website's authority and publishing a post inside their domain to get it ranking. The website needs to have a user portal for people to login. Google Groups has been abused for this black hat technique.

PBN link building

This is where SEO experts create new websites or buy old existing domains and create links schemes to the websites that they want to rank. If you have a large list of websites, you can create a huge link farm or network.

Programmatic SEO

Large websites use this to create thousands of pages with 1 simple template and rank for similar keywords. For example, most people focus on location based stuff but if I had 1 template that is automatically created based on a workflow and pulls through keywords like, SEO {location}. SEO London, SEO Sydney, SEO Brisbane etc. (I've got a guide on programmatic SEO here).

Mass AI generated content

Generating a huge number of articles using AI generated content. For example creating 10,000 AI generated articles. Someone did this by putting their competitors' sitemap into AI and generating content around their sitemap. In the end Google removed all of their content from the search engine.


Well, as always I’d recommend sticking with white hat SEO but at least you can understand a little bit more about black hat and how it works. Most people are too impatient to wait for results so they try out black hat. 

What I can say is if you are patient, the results will start coming. SEO is a long term game and you will see the returns on investment for at least 6-12 months . After that, it will be flowing in without much effort. 

If you are going to try and play around with black hat, it’s recommended to do so on a dummy site so you don’t mess up any of your rankings. Then you can apply the techniques to your main sites if you feel comfortable doing so. 

Share your thoughts in the comments below! Did I miss any black hat strategies?


About The Author

George Panayides is a digital marketing specialist, focusing on SEO, Google ads, Social media marketing, website development and link building. He’s looking to help other freelancers or business owners become a master in their industry and move towards a better, more successful future.

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Hey, it's George. I'm giving away my marketing secrets (because apparently, I'm just that nice 🙄). You can thank me by linking to my content ha ha.

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