White Hat vs Black Hat Marketing: What’s the Difference?

white hat vs black hat

Around the world, over 4 billion people are connected to the internet.

Billions of people use social media and the internet every week to conduct business of all kinds. Online marketing is a way to reach these people. If you’ve looked into it, you have probably heard about white hat vs black hat marketing.

You may have asked yourself, what do these terms mean? Let’s break down what kind of marketing these terms apply to and how they’re used. This should give you a better idea of the differences between them.

Online Marketing

One of the most significant areas of online marketing is search engine optimization. This marketing strategy relies on building up your site so that more viewers see it, and more viewers become customers.  This marketing strategy is essential because there are over 1.7 billion websites on the internet.

Standing out can make all the difference. Doing so requires that your site be optimized. If you have heard of white hat vs black hat marketing, you’re reading about SEO. The source of these terms goes back to when SEO marketing was in its infancy.

White Hat vs Black Hat

The concept of white hat vs black hat is not something new to marketing or the internet. It’s a stereotype derived from old western movies. In those movies, the good guy, or sheriff, always wore a white hat. The villain, criminal, or killer, always wore a black hat.

White Hat

White hat marketing is a way of describing marketing that is done in an ethical manner. If you engage in white hat SEO marketing, you’re following search engine guidelines and marketing to your human audience. You are trying to make your site experience the best you can and draw in more customers because of it.

Black Hat

Black hat marketing means engaging in unethical marketing strategies. This includes violating search engine guidelines and stuffing your website with content targeted only at drawing in visitors. Keyword stuffing and irrelevant content is a cornerstone of this approach.

The Core Difference

The primary concern of white hat marketing is to make your website better. This strategy encourages you to post quality content and expand your topical authority. You post content potential customers want to see and help make their experience on your website more enjoyable.

With black hat marketing, you’re not trying to improve your customer’s experience at all. You’re banking on the fact that the more people who see your site, the more business you’ll get. The issue is that this doesn’t provide quality or service to your customer.

The Effect of Modern Algorithms

Google dominates search engine usage at nearly 85%. This trend has continued for over a decade and shows no sign of changing. As a result, much of the online marketing you’ll engage in uses Google as a base for optimization.

To better serve those who use its service, Google updates, and changes the algorithm that scores websites. Using white hat marketing, you’ll be able to stay relevant and be scored high by Google. These algorithmic changes target the use of black hat tactics.

Those who violate the search engine guidelines of Google can no longer expect people to see their content. This doesn’t stop black hat strategies from evolving, but it limits their effectiveness. Every dollar spent on black hat marketing will have a lower return on investment.

Content Marketing

Content marketing, as a component of an SEO strategy, is indispensable. Good content marketing is considered a white hat strategy that builds value for your customers and your business. Filling your site with useless content to score higher is regarded as a black hat strategy.

A proper strategy using content will offer something to your customers. The content you publish on your site will be helpful and, hopefully, show them why they need your products or services. Improper content marketing strives to trick people into clicking on your website by ranking it artificially high.

Keywords and Searches

Much of the white hat vs black hat strategy comes down to their use of keywords. Keywords are phrases or sets of words typed in by people looking for a product or service. This means that having those keywords increases the likelihood that your site will be noticed and listed high on the results.

Using keywords is not bad; in fact, it’s a useful tool. When correctly applied to content, keywords help you connect with people who are looking for what you’re selling. Stuffing keywords refers to a strategy where you overuse use a key phrase to drive traffic without value.

SEO Marketing and Your Business

If you’re getting into online marketing and experimenting with SEO tools and strategies, you’re on the right track. A free audit of your site can help you make smart choices to improve your content and landing page experience.

Employing ethical marketing strategies is important because customers don’t like being misled. Websites that gain great initial traction using black hat tactics usually find their popularity is fleeting. Customers aren’t interested in meaningless content and will stop visiting a site that exploits them.

Another standard part of SEO marketing is anchor links. Using proper backlinks to build traffic and authority for your site will improve your SEO score. Using links that don’t have credibility in order to have a more massive backlink library is an example of black hat marketing.

Final Word on White Hat vs Black Hat Marketing

If you’re trying to improve your customer base and reach more potential customers, the white hat vs black hat marketing question is already answered for you. An ethical approach will help you not only reach more customers, but it will help you retain them.

In the early days of internet searching, black hat tactics were incredibly effective but only helped to sell advertising space. Marketing in an ethical manner and understanding the strategies you should be using is the only your business will succeed.

If you’re looking into marketing for your business, browse through our FAQ to see what questions we can answer. Once you’re done there, be sure to sift through all of our content for the best SEO tips and more!