The goal of Search engines is to lead customers with as little searching as possible to the information that they want to find—the best and most relevant content, in other words. Unfortunately, this presents a huge problem for the average website owner. When you’re busy running your business, you often don’t have time to create the incredible content that people really want. As a result, three different thought camps evolved with different ideas on how to grab up those high rankings: Black Hat, Grey Hat, and White Hat.
Analogically, we’re going to talk snowballs to show the difference.
Black Hat SEO boils down to “tricking” search engines into thinking you are popular. Black Hat methods can seem as innocent as paying for links on popular websites or as nefarious as cracking or hacking other sites and search engines to outright steal their traffic. Black Hat tactics tend to have short-term gains (4 weeks to 6 months), however, there are consequences. Best case, they alienate your audience and “wear out.” Worst case, you get the “Google Axe”—they completely remove any trace of your site—or even sued.
Black Hat SEO is like throwing snowballs against a brick wall. It’s exhilarating while it lasts. They go somewhere quickly, but they shatter upon impact and never accomplish your goals. And when you start throwing snow, you should expect some to be thrown back at you.
White Hat SEO amounts to sucking it up and really making your website worth visiting, and then making sure you attract enough attention through social networks and community activity. White Hat tactics are usually estimated to take about a year before they start getting you notable attention. However, because your goals are aligning with the search engines’ goals, your success can truly be long-term…as long as you continue to generate great new content.
The White Hat snowball starts out very small, so it takes a bit of work to really get it rolling. Once you’ve gained some momentum, though, it requires minimal effort to keep it going strong, and it’ll keep getting faster and bigger as you roll it down the hill.
Grey Hat SEO, as the name implies, is somewhere in the middle. Grey Hat tactics usually involve creating mediocre content and tricking the search engines into thinking it’s phenomenal. This is accomplished by picking bits and pieces from the Black Hat bag—the tricks that don’t seem that unethical and that haven’t been specifically denounced by Google or other search engines. Recently this has manifested as the practice of getting links from a ton of other websites—even if most of them are irrelevant.
Grey Hat SEO tends to have a faster turnaround than white hat. These tactics often earn you an 8-week Google slump, but start paying back quickly thereafter. The downside, however, is that the effective “tricks” change from month to month, and Google rolls out a new set of rules almost yearly. If those rules forbid the practices you’ve been relying on, then you might just earn a visit from the “Google Axe” Fairy.
In terms of snowballs, this is the one that you are pushing cross-country and over the occasional surprise hot spring, while on the run from hair-dryer-toting Google Bots.
There you have it: SEO in a snowball. But the important question, the one you should ask us or any other SEO company, is this: which hat is your snowman wearing?
At SEOlogy, we are White Hat Specialists who focus on content. We have staff members immerse themselves in your industry and completely generate your website’s content. We then build a network around that site to slowly (but surely!) become the defacto destination in your field.