Different Shades of SEO


There are multiple ways to escalate your website in a search dropdown menu. Some approaches are compliant with Google’s guidelines, while others push the boundaries of  universally adopted rules to engage in foul play. While it is useful to know about all the available SEO options, you should assemble your optimization toolkit very carefully. Although they promise fast gains in the short run, some tricks can eventually hold you back. Google will not turn a blind eye on suspicious activities forever, and there is a good chance you will be penalized if you color outside the lines. 

Let’s consider three key types of SEO, along with their characteristics, advantages and disadvantages.

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO

This category encompasses Google-approved techniques. The definition of white hat SEO is derived from Western movies of the mid 20th Century, where the good guys wore white hats, and the bad guys wore black. 

White hat SEO tools and methods include:

  • ongoing keyword research, selection of strong keywords, and reassembly of the semantic core;
  • creation of informative meta tags;
  • meaningful, relevant and unique content that educates and entertains users;
  • maintenance of a correct Robots.txt file and Sitemap;
  • user-friendly interface and an easily navigable content hierarchy;
  • social media sharing to get more links and better exposure;
  • handling 404 errors and tracking proper server operation;
  • ensuring high loading speeds and mobile-friendliness;
  • registration of the website in directories to attract targeted visitors.

In the case of white hat SEO, your optimization logic should revolve around officially recognized standards. Everything is pretty simple: just follow the rules and reap your well-deserved results. Thoroughly study Google’s recommendations and monitor its updates. Your major consideration should not be to gain high SEO metrics, but to cater to human users, to make their online journey smoother and more engaging. 

Advantages of white hat SEO:

  • Playing the good guy, you can expect Google to encourage your initiatives and reward your labor.
  • White SEO is the best way to create a website that will help you accomplish long-term business goals and establish niche authority. If you do not want to be perceived as a fly-by-night company but as a legitimate enterprise with serious intentions, white hat SEO is the best choice for you. 
  • Your business will appear legitimate in every respect, and you will not have to worry about its secure future. 
  • You will be able to shape an impeccable reputation for your venture and showcase your credibility to prospective clients.
  • White hat techniques will improve your website’s organic visibility and boost ROI. 

Disadvantages of white hat SEO: 

  • It takes time, so do not expect fast gains. Some campaigns take up to a year to deliver the first results.  You need to be patient and invest a great deal of effort to attain your fundamental goals. 
  • It can be costly. You will have to perform tons of SEO work and hire writers to create unique and useful content. 
  • Much depends on your industry. Some niches are overrun with shady SEO practices. It may be challenging to establish niche superiority if you do not use the same deceptive tricks as your competitors. 

The experience of companies from a variety of industries shows that, despite the above-mentioned drawbacks, white hat SEO delivers the best results in the long run, making it well worth the investment.


Gray Hat SEO

Gray Hat SEO

While white hat SEO is categorized as “good” and black SEO as “bad,” gray hat techniques fall somewhere in the middle. They stand between the things that Google encourages and those it categorically prohibits. Gray hat methods are not completely illegal or unethical, but at the same time they are unreliable for building a long-term marketing strategy. 

Gray hat SEO techniques include:

  • paid backlinks;
  • buying followers and testimonials to quickly shape a brand’s reputation;
  • cloaking, a technique to mislead users in search by providing meta descriptions that do not coincide with a website’s content;
  • rewriting texts from competitors’ websites;
  • over-optimization. 

Advantages of gray hat techniques are:

  • With a sound approach to link-building and professional optimization of the entire website, gray SEO delivers fast results, preserving a high level of security that is usually lost with black SEO. You can enjoy a splash of traffic and conversions, and watch your website move up in the search dropdown menu. 
  • Even if your website gets punished, the sanctions will not be harsh. 
  • If your customers discover that you use gray SEO techniques, it won’t significantly damage your reputation. Methods falling under this category do not overtly violate SEO ethics, they simply take advantage of the loopholes in Google’s policies. 

Disadvantages of gray SEO:

  • Excessive and unsound use of gray methods is frowned upon by Google, and some metrics may not be taken into account when ranking.
  • While gray techniques can help with short-term campaigns and deliver impressive temporary results, they are not sustainable for long-term strategic marketing. 
  • Although no one will call you a scammer, Google will add you to its list of suspicious websites, which could be enough to get you banned or lose your positions in search results if you make a single serious mistake. 

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO

Black optimization flagrantly violates the directives of search engines. Examples of SEO within this category include:

  • copying and pasting content from competitors’ websites;
  • keyword stuffing;
  • doorway pages (almost identical pages with only slight differences);
  • hidden keywords (white text on white background);
  • purchased backlinks and citations;
  • cloaking;
  • meaningless or flimsy content, where the topics addressed are poorly developed;
  • private blog networks, where a group of websites exchange backlinks to improve rankings. 

Some of these methods are also listed in the gray SEO section; they turn black when used to excess. 

The key and perhaps only advantage of black hat SEO is that you can achieve impressive results with lightning speed. Impatient entrepreneurs who are looking for fast gains often try to work around universally accepted marketing guidelines and resort to black methods. Even though unethical practices may work like a charm in their initial stages, pushing a brand to page one in search and boosting conversions, negative consequences are sure to float up sooner or later:

  • Poor user experience. Black techniques for external SEO may attract prospective clients to your website, but they will quickly leave if you do not satisfy their search intent and provide high-quality, relevant and unique content. 
  • In contrast to gray hat SEO, Google severely penalizes websites for black techniques, up to a total ban and exclusion from search results. 
  • The reputation of your brand can be significantly impaired if your use of black SEO goes public. 
  • There is no way to achieve lasting and sustainable results with black SEO. 

Summing It Up

If you have far-reaching plans for promoting your company online, the best approach is to use white SEO tactics and steer clear of shady tricks. Of course, using white SEO may take longer, but rest assured that it will lead to the achievement of your long-term goals. 

Here at Clever Solution, we build effective white hat SEO strategies for our clients. Our goals are to help clients achieve a fair advantage in the market, build an impeccable reputation and gain a stable profit margin.