Marilyn Monroe starring in "Some Like It White Hat"

Jessica Milner

SEO Account Manager
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7 Deadly Sins…. and keyword stuffing…The 

In Seven Deadly Sins and Keyword Stuffing we explored the murky underworld of Black Hat SEO tactics and the ubiquitous presence of Panda and Penguin; the algorithms that Google introduced to circumvent SEO malpractice. The end result had seen many companies’ Google rankings blacklisted and Ecommerce businesses experience a serious loss of revenue.
In this blog we focus on white hat search engine optimisation. We explore the importance of choosing your shade of your hat apparel, what Google has to say on the matter….

White, Gray, Black…which hat do you wear?

White hat, black hat, and gray hat SEO

White hat SEO is considered ethical SEO, while black hat SEO is considered unethical SEO. Whilst Gray hat SEO is falls somewhere between these shades, some of these techniques could be considered the black hat strategies of tomorrow…

White hat SEO

White hat employs SEO methods that are beneficial for site visitors as well as for search engines. The goal of white hat SEO is to improve search engine result positions via methods that won’t cause search engines to penalise the site.

Successful white hat SEO is slower than black hat SEO and is an ongoing process.

Examples of white hat SEO techniques


    • Researching relevant keywords, both shortail and long tail keywords
    • Including keywords naturally in page titles, headings, link anchor text, other page content, and alt tags
    • Studying analytics reports and fine-tuning the content to further optimize it for targeted keywords and to help direct traffic to relevant pages
    • Adding fresh content regularly

Using correct HTML markup (for example, heading tags) so that search engines can identify headings and other types of content correctly

  • Making sure that all the code is valid (or at least won’t stop search engine bots)
  • Creating site maps so that every page is linked to and search engine bots can crawl every page
  • Using CSS to separate content from markup and thus increase keyword density by having less markup to crawl
  • Creating quality content that other people will want to link to
  • Asking to have directories and other relevant websites link to the site
  • Optimizing pages for social media in the hopes of attracting social media links
  • Arranging for link exchanges with relevant sites (considered by some to be gray hat SEO)



Gray hat SEO

Gray hat employs SEO techniques that take more risks than white hat SEO techniques but aren’t likely to get your site banned from search engines (although a search engine penality could result). Whilst questionable SEO techniques but not in the same category as black hat SEO techniques. However, what’s considered gray hat SEO today might be black hat SEO next year.

Examples of gray hat SEO techniques


  • Having a keyword density that’s high enough to sound unnatural but not at the level of black hat keyword stuffing
  • Publishing duplicate content at different sites

Black hat SEO

Black hat SEO uses techniques that are unacceptable to search engines to boost a page’s position in search results. These techniques aim to delude search engines into giving pages higher positions in search results, and they have no benefit to site visitors. The goal is to improve search engine result positions no matter what it takes to do it.

Black hat SEO techniques are used for two reasons:

  • They work — until search engines get wise and they don’t work.
  • Some people don’t understand that black hat SEO techniques can get their sites penalized by or banned from search engines.

Even if search engines can’t detect the black hat SEO techniques, competitors of sites that employ black hat SEO techniques can spot them and do report them to search engines.

Examples of black hat SEO techniques


  • Keyword stuffing
  • Overusing keywords in comment tags, alt tags, and meta tag
  • Placing keywords in hidden text (hidden from people, that is) by making their font color the same color as the page background
  •  Overusing keywords in visible text, to the point where their repetition is apparent to readers

Deceptive content

  • Doorway or gateway pages: pages that are stuffed with keywords but that only search engines see because people are redirected to the page with the real content
  • Cloaking: displaying different content to search engines than to people by identifying visitors via IP or via other methods
  • Link farms: pages with unrelated links solely for the purpose of creating more links to target pages
  • Spamming forums, blogs, and other social media sites with links (search engines might not penalize sites for this, but it’s considered unethical)


Google in Seattle

Seattle, USA, Matt Cutts , chief in charge of web spam at Google…speaks  

SMX Advance Conference

“SEO can be positive and constructive. Effective search engine optimisation can make a site more ‘crawlable’ and make individual pages more accessible and easier to find. “White hat” search engine optimizers often improve the usability of a site, help create great content, or make sites faster, which is good for both users and search engines. Good search engine optimization can also mean good marketing: thinking about creative ways to make a site more compelling, which can help with search engines as well as social media. As long as you engage in ethical link building strategies and focus your energy on original, well-written, highly relevant content, you will fair well in popular search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo”

As Matt Cutts identified at the SMX Advance Conference, ethical link building and carefully crafted content management impacts on your rankings in search engines.

Next Monday we go into the Lab for a special *In the Lab Feature*

  • Our *In the Lab Feature* examines using content management to improve your Google rankings and explores the use of social media for ethical link building.

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