New Message Notification

Which Do You Prefer? White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO – The Great Debate

Profile photo of Jeff Miller Submitted by Jeff Miller December 13, 2016

What Are They

If you’re starting to get your feet wet in the world of SEO you might come across the terms white hat SEO, and black hat SEO. Though simple terminology, they carry a lot of meaning behind them.

White hat SEO includes strategy and techniques that follow the rules and guidelines of search engines like Google. Black hat SEO is the exact opposite. Those who practice black hat SEO break the rules and try to “cheat the system.”

Their names are a reference to the old cowboy movies. The good guys used to wear white hats. The bad guys wore black hats.

But why do some people choose one or the other? And which method should you stick to?

Black Hat SEO

First, we will look at black hat SEO. Those who practice it believe they can get around the guidelines of the search engines. They think they can trick them into ranking their website and products higher.

Black top-hat on white background - isolated

And a lot of times, they are correct. There are many internet marketers who are successful with black hat SEO. In fact, there are scores of forums, information products, and online communities dedicated strictly to black hat SEO.

Black hat SEO methods include methods like private blog networks, keyword stuffing, spam blogs, bait and switch pages, cloaking, and duplicate content to name a few. The list is much larger.

Sometimes, black hat SEO allows for much quicker rankings. It can also be cheaper.

So if black hat SEO has all of these advantages, why doesn’t everyone do it?

The answer: because it is very risky. Search engines get smarter every day, and they catch on to black hat SEO little by little.

Your website could be at the top of the rankings using black hat techniques. But a new Google update meant to eliminate your tactics can penalize you and wipe out your business overnight.

It has happened before. Google updates like ‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’ have destroyed multi-million dollar businesses in the blink of an eye.

In black hat SEO, what works today may not work tomorrow.

As a result, black hat SEO is almost always focused on the short term. It has a limited shelf life.

White Hat SEO

On the other hand, white hat SEO is a much longer term strategy.

With white hat SEO, you are focusing on great content. Content that is useful, and that readers get real value out of.

That means content that helps readers solve their problems. Content that informs them on what they need to know.

Another tenet of white hat SEO is strong, non-spammy backlinks. Backlinks generated through guest posts and social shares. These indicate to search engines that your content, and your website, is valuable.

There are many other factors that contribute to white hat SEO. Too many to list here. But there are some down sides.

White hat SEO requires time. Good rankings don’t come overnight. They are the result of consistency and quality in your content. It may take months for your website, or even individual pages on your website to rank.

Time is money, so white hat SEO can also be more expensive. It requires more content writers for your blog, more server time before you get any results.

It can also be frustrating to put in a lot of work without seeing any results for a while.

Which is Best

So which should you choose, white hat or black hat SEO?

You are free to make up your own mind, but I would highly recommend sticking to white hat SEO.


Because it is what professionals do. It is what works long term.

If you are consistent, create strong value, and don’t break the rules you are almost guaranteed good rankings and consistent traffic.

In fact, white hat SEO is one of the biggest trends in the industry.

Not just today, but tomorrow. By sticking with white hat SEO you can build an online business that can last for years!

You don’t have to worry about penalties or Google updates. You know your content is good, and that you provide value. It is in the best interest of the search engines to give you good rankings.

It’s a win-win relationship.

If you utilize black hat methods, you might have some short term success. But your business will always be in peril.

After all, Google is one of the largest and most innovative companies in the world. Their search engine gets smarter and smarter by the month!

Thinking that you can outsmart them forever is a poor gamble. It could result in you losing your entire business.

Learning and implementing white hat SEO methods is the best way to ensure success online. It might take time and effort, but anything worth doing takes time and effort. And the rewards far outweigh the costs.

Which do you prefer, white hat or black hat SEO?

This post was originally published in by Jeff Miller

Facebook(0) Share and earn points.
Share on Google+

The following two tabs change content below.
Profile photo of Jeff Miller
I'm a professional working int the SEO industry for 5+ years. I recently started my own blog on the subject. However, I'm always learning something new. Check out my site

You Might Also Like

Most Valuable and Active Kinggers

Profile photo of Sherman SmithProfile photo of Amit SharanProfile photo of James LingProfile photo of darrellantonioProfile photo of Winford MooreProfile photo of Janice WaldProfile photo of CarlProfile photo of PaulProfile photo of DaveProfile photo of Judith ChangProfile photo of stevenProfile photo of Gavin McDonaldProfile photo of David KilburnProfile photo of Ivana DeeProfile photo of Bruce P.


48 Responses to “ Which Do You Prefer? White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO – The Great Debate” Leave a reply ›

  • Profile photo of Gavin McDonald Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for sharing this important discussion post.

    Anyone who has ever done or thought of doing SEO has to ask and answer this question.

    In my opinion, white hat SEO is safer but doesn’t give as fast results as black hat SEO.

    I have read of many people who have made a lot of money with black hat SEO. Some even use a technique called churn and burn to rank as many pages as they can quickly and make money from them before they get de-ranked or even de-indexed by Google.

    You are right that white hat SEO gives longer term results but the cost of doing everything right might discourage people.

    To answer your question, I prefer white hat SEO, but if it’s not too expensive to get good results.

  • Profile photo of Shamsudeen Adeshokan Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    Yesterday I published an article on my blog which targets a fairly new emerging local keyword.

    For some reasons, I know the article will hit Google first page.

    Today, I Google the keyword to see if the page is on SERP and what position it occupy.

    To my greatest surprise, scrapers have scraped the entire content including my name as the author visible on the scrapers blog.

    You know what?

    This scrap blog rank #1 for the target keyword while my page (the original content source) nowhere near #10 SERP.

    This scrapers blog is getting all the traffic for the target keyword at least for the moment.

    Maybe blackhat SEO is the way to go or not I think is a thing of personal choice and whether you’re here to build a long-term business or looking for quick cash.

    Thanks for sharing, Jeff.
    Shamsudeen Adeshokan recently posted…How to Transfer Hosting From Whogohost to NameCheapMy Profile

    • Profile photo of Jeff Miller Profile

      Hi Shamsudeen,

      I’m sorry that happened to your blog. Hopefully, Google takes note that they copied your content and fixes it.

      However, there is a bright side. The fact that they copied your content is a sign that it is valuable.

      Keep producing great content and working on that SEO. There is a lot of potential in this industry.

      And I agree, choosing white hat or black hat in the end is a personal choice. People are succesful with both.
      Jeff Miller recently posted…7 SEO Trends for 2017My Profile

  • Profile photo of Jerry Chong Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    You are right, it’s the great debate whether to go white hat or black hat.

    But I think most people go both ways, for different sites and for different reasons and at different times.

    I have done both white hat and black hat back in the day.

    Remember back in the days of everyone and their brothers trying to get rich with adsense sites? Black hat was the norm then, with a bit of white hat in between, lol.

    Right now, I’d say to go solely white hat on authority sites. It’s not worth getting into trouble with Google doing black hat on authority sites.

  • Profile photo of Black Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    For what its worth, White Hat SEO should be the obvious choice. Real online marketing needs to embrace sustaining actions and benefits.

    Black Hat SEO promises results for the now but White Hat is for the future.

    Your comparison of the two SEO types is clear and the best choice is White Hat SEO!

  • Profile photo of Celine Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    If an SEO wants quick fix then black SEO tactics would be the obvious choice. However, if the objective is long-term rankings and results then white hat SEO would be adopted.

    Choosing black hat SEO may seem right and cheap for now but with time and updates in search engine algorithms it would prove highly costly and result in frustration.

    Thank you for explaining what black and white SEO entails, and also for recommending White SEO for very good reason!

  • Profile photo of Carl Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    With all the warning signs and red flags about black hat SEO I wonder why many people would still go for it! The cost of Black hat SEO in long run could be overwhelming.

    In the past, many do get results from it but the search engine spiders are wiser and smarter!

    So, it is NO for black hat SEO and YES for white hat SEO!

    • Profile photo of Jeff Miller Profile

      Hi Carl,

      You’d be surprised at the number of marketers still doing black hat SEO.

      And as I mentioned in the article, a good number of them are successful.

      However, they are taking a risky gamble. Google updates their algorithm regularly.

      Like you, I prefer to invest in a long-term method. I’d rather see lower returns over a long time than high returns that can vanish immediately.
      Jeff Miller recently posted…5 Common SEO MistakesMy Profile

      • Profile photo of Carl Profile

        The risky gamble many black hat seo are taking are overwhelming. It is important to stick with actions that would give peace of mind and the needed results.
        I guess, some will only learn when they are burn!

  • Profile photo of Amit Sharan Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    After reading this article, it becomes clear that online success is guaranteed with effective White Hat SEO.

    Your concluding paragraph says it all:

    Learning and implementing white hat SEO methods is the best way to ensure success online. It might take time and effort, but anything worth doing takes time and effort. And the rewards far outweigh the costs.

    • Profile photo of Jeff Miller Profile

      Hello Amit,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

      You are absolutely correct. If you stick to white hat SEO, and do it well, you are pretty much guaranteed success online.

      It requires some time and patience, but it is worth it.

      I’m glad you like my concluding paragraph. It is so true. Anything worth doing takes time and effort. Nothing is free in this life, but through hard work you can achieve great results.
      Jeff Miller recently posted…White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO – The Great DebateMy Profile

      • Profile photo of Amit Sharan Profile

        Hey Jeff,

        Yes, I enjoyed your article and all the points you have shared. One can always achieve just about anything if he takes the time to invest in the success.

        Patience is one of those virtues that white hat SEO have. This always leads to success for them!

  • Profile photo of James Ling Profile

    All that you said about black hat SEO is true. I have been using this tactics for many years until Google’s Panda and Penguin were introduced to sanitize the web.

    I was highly affected because of the high number of bad links my sites were built on. Also, the use of PBN meant a disappointing experience. Since then I have learned my lesson , and White SEO is on for me today!

  • Profile photo of Paul Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    I want to quickly align my preference with those who support white hat SEO. This is the tactic whereby I pitch my tent!

    White hat SEO for me means integrity, trust, patience and reward! Why must I consider black hat SEO when I know it is a license to death?

  • Profile photo of Sarah John Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    Unless someone is not living in the present, we can excuse him of choosing black hat SEO over white hat SEO!

    It would be a big mistake sticking with black hat SEO when it is obvious that the disadvantages far out weigh the benefits.

    Everyone proactive online marketer must embrace and implement white hat SEO for good!

  • Profile photo of Winford Moore Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    It is either one is doing White hat SEO or black hat SEO. There is also the in-between tactic knows as ‘grey hat SEO’ but this is still a black hat tactic.

    Thanks for explaining these concepts. It is wise to follow White hat SEO because therein lies peace of mind and reward!

    • Profile photo of Jeff Miller Profile

      Hi Winford,

      I have heard of gray hat SEO. To be honest with you, I pretty much consider gray hat SEO to be synonymous with black hat SEO.

      However, if you can find success with it, then power to you.

      There are certainly a lot of people who have success with these methods. It just isn’t for me.
      Jeff Miller recently posted…7 SEO Tools for Bloggers and Website Owners in 2016My Profile

      • Profile photo of Winford Moore Profile

        Ha ha ha! Sure it isn’t for you! This is a speedy denial 😀 and I don;t blame you for the quick dissociation. Nobody want to soil their reputation with black hat SEO!

        Like you stated, there are some people who will consider gray hat as white hat while others will consider it as black hat.

        Personally, SEO is either black or white, nothing in-between 😉

    • Profile photo of Norma Profile

      Hi Winford,

      Jeff just mentioned in his reply to my comment that you talked about grey hat.

      Those who do grey hat say their grey hat SEO tactics might be “frowned upon” but not breaking any Google guidelines to get them in trouble.

      But I still prefer white hat. It’s safer, on the long run.

  • Profile photo of steven Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    Of course I would prefer white hat seo to black hat seo. The risks associated with the latter are very high! What white hat seo will cost me is only time, but I am willing to do the right thing and reap the reward of my effort peacefully.

    Long term success for content marketers yields the best of rewards, and implementing white hat seo is the beginning of this success!

    • Profile photo of Jeff Miller Profile

      Hi Steven,

      You are correct. Unfortunately, white hat SEO does take time. But that’s okay, it really is worth it.

      Alternately, if you don’t want to spend time, you can spend money to accelerate the process. Unfortunately, that has its own costs.

      To your success!
      Jeff Miller recently posted…7 SEO Trends for 2017My Profile

      • Profile photo of steven Profile

        Thanks for agreeing with me Jeff!

        White hat SEO is very rewarding even though it takes time. The practitioner of this tactic must look beyond the ‘costs’ and embrace the highly rewarding benefits in the long term!

  • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    In the early days of the Internet, the search engines were not effective in detecting the best practices of SEO. Black Hat and Grey Hat SEO were almost ‘legal’ but quality suffered.

    For many who implemented White Hat SEO, it was almost like they don’t know what they are doing.

    Thankfully, the dynamic and ingenious introduction of Google’s ‘animals’- Panda and Penguin, in the last couple of years, has weeded out fluff from substance.

    White SEO is best even though the result would not be immediate!

    • Profile photo of Jeff Miller Profile

      Hi Sunday,

      Google has gotten smarter. A lot smarter.

      Back in the day black hat SEO used to be easy. And everyone and their grandmother was doing it.

      Today, not so much.

      It’s become a lot more difficutl, and risky.

      I applaud you for sticking to white hat SEO.
      Jeff Miller recently posted…7 SEO Trends for 2017My Profile

      • Profile photo of Sunday William Profile

        Hmm! Indeed, back in the days, it was easy for just about anyone to do Black hat. Thanks to innovative technology, we have come to discover ‘short cut’ doesn’t pay and that quality must be promoted in lieu of quality!

  • Profile photo of Norma Profile

    Hi Jeff,

    I am with you on this, black hat is too risky and short term. I prefer white hat SEO.

    But there’s also grey hat SEO. Those who do it say it’s staying in the middle, not white, and not black hat.

    Do you have any thoughts on whether you recommend grey hat or not?

    • Profile photo of Jeff Miller Profile

      Hi Norma,

      I’m sure you would benefit from speaking with Winford above.

      At the end of the day, it is up to you to figure out what kind of SEO you want to implement.

      To be fair, gray hat SEO is A LOT safer than black hat.

      But it’s always a blurred line. What is gray, and what is black hat?

      It’s up to you to decide.

      Although I don’t personally practice it, I would recommend gray hat over SEO.

      This is just a result of the risk associated with the techniques. Gray hat is inherently safer.

      If you have a method you think has potential, by all means pursue it.
      Jeff Miller recently posted…5 Common SEO MistakesMy Profile

      • Profile photo of Norma Profile

        Thanks for replying.

        Those who do grey hat say their grey hat SEO tactics might be “frowned upon” but not breaking any Google guidelines to get them in trouble.

        But who knows, the tactics might not get them in trouble today but might tomorrow when another algo update happens.

        That’s why you are right, grey hat is a lot safer than black hat, but the safest is white hat, in the long run.

  • Profile photo of Kelly Matthews Profile

    I had a site once which got penalized even with using only white hat seo. I didn’t do any black hat or anything illegal, so not sure if you are completely right that whitehat is safe.

    Sometimes it seems google just goes crazy and penalize at random.

    I read that sometimes google may be doing and randomly penalizing sites to scare everyone from doing seo at all.

  • Profile photo of Sherman Smith Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    You are very right about this.

    Black hat is definitely for the short term. I have used it when I first started blogging, and it was definitely a waste of time.

    Slowly but surely I started using more white hat strategies and tools. It takes longer and it can get expensive, but knowing that I won’t be penalize as much as if I was using black hat strategies is a relief.

    Google suppose to be doing another update for the coming new year, so we all must prepared for that.

    Thanks for sharing Jeff! Have a great week ahead!
    Sherman Smith recently posted…9 Tips For Introverted Solopreneur Bloggers To Create Productive GoalsMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Hussain Omar Profile

    Hey Jeff,

    Wonderful post, love it!

    White hat vs Black hat used to be endless debate. I see If you couldn’t afford losing everything overnight, black hat SEO shouldn’t be your choice.

    Most of these black hat techniques are useless now, and they don’t push the SERPs unless the competition is very low.

    People go for the black hat techniques mostly for the affordability.

    They look for shortcuts, and see it hard and time consuming to look for guest post opportunities, or even to outreach reputable experts to write roundup posts that proved success in gaining valuable links.

    Thanks for sharing the great post, Jeff!

    Keep posting!

    Hussain Omar recently posted…How to Write Outreach Emails That Don’t SuckMy Profile

  • Profile photo of Enzo James Profile

    From the start, black hat worked for me pretty well but as time goes by some of my blog accounts were banned, that’s why I’m shifting on white hat.

  • Profile photo of Abigail Chow Profile

    I prefer the one with long lasting results, which happens to be white hat. It sounds silly to spend a lot of money on blackhat strategies when they could all stop working instantly, without warning. Whitehat all the way for me.

  • Profile photo of Howard D. Bray Profile

    I prefer white hat too, like others here have said, but black hat still works for many people and is cheaper, thanks to services like Fiverr, 😉

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment

CommentLuv badge

FINALLY... after 3 years of starting this site, KINGGED.COM'S SUPER PROMOTION To Reach MILLIONS MORE PEOPLE Is now available. Click To See.