Types of Search Engine Optimization

What types of Search Engine Optimization are there?

Search Engine Optimization

(Image from Secure S.E.O Services).

[schema type="review" name="Types of Search Engine Optimization" description="This post provides an overview of three main types of Search Engine Optimization - White Hat S.E.O, Black Hat S.E.O, and Grey Hat S.E.O." author="Rob Attfield" pubdate="2013-01-31" ]

There are three major types of Search Engine Optimization, abbreviated as S.E.O, that are in use today. When I interviewed my client, I gave a brief explanation of what types of S.E.O exist, and how I can implement a sound strategy to enhance his business’s website on the web. Search Engine Optimization is an activity which requires constant up-skilling, as search engines regularly update their search algorithms, competing sites rise and fall in rankings, and new competitors are vying for that coveted 1st page result on Google. As you will see in this post, there are┬áSearch Engine Optimization strategies that are “ethical”, and some that are “unethical”. Here are the three main types of S.E.O:

White Hat S.E.O

White Hat S.E.O

(Image from PilotfishSEO.com)

The term White Hat S.E.O refers to using “ethical” techniques to increase your website’s ranking, for specified keywords, on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Using White Hat S.E.O techniques ensures the long-term ranking of a given website; however, S.E.O is an ongoing activity – because search engines are constantly changing their search engine ranking algorithms. Although using White Hat S.E.O techniques will take longer to gain the desired results, this patience and hard work will pay off – with benefits such as: significant increases in website traffic, increased conversion rates, increased sales, and higher S.E.R.P rankings.

Examples of “ethical” White Hat S.E.O techniques are (but not limited to):

  • Internal linking
  • Reciprocal linking
  • Creating high-quality content related to your niche (with a keyword density around 2.5%)
  • Writing quality niche-related articles, with a link or two back to your site
  • Well structured H.T.M.L and meta tags (according to W3C guidelines)

A more thorough explanation of these techniques is available here.

Black Hat S.E.O

Black Hat SEO

(Image from 10 Ways to Spot a Black Hat SEO Company).

Unlike White Hat S.E.O, the art of Blackhat S.E.O involves numerous “unethical” S.E.O techniques to increase a website’s rankings in search engines. The techniques involved are “short-cuts” – that try and get the coveted high rankings faster, yet they only work in the very short term. These techniques are highly likely able to get your website de-indexed from most search engines (namely Google, Bing, and Yahoo), and are not worth using if you want the integrity of your online presence to be positive. Having your site de-indexed from search engines isn’t the only thing to be worried about, if you use Black Hat S.E.O techniques – your name or business could gain a negative reputation online. If a search engine de-indexes your site and drops your rankings, they take a painstaking effort to recover. It is clear that Black Hat S.E.O will not gain stable long-term desired results for your website – even if the Black Hat techniques involved can achieve “good” rankings in a very short space of time.

Here are some examples of Black Hat S.E.O techniques you should avoid using (of course, this is just a small sample of many techniques):

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Hidden text
  • Cloaking
  • Doorway pages
  • Redirects (for Black Hat purposes)
  • Duplicate sites
  • Copying and pasting content
  • Interlinking
  • Buying backlinks

A comprehensive overview of these Black Hat S.E.O techniques can be found by visiting this link.

Grey Hat S.E.O

Grey Hat S.E.O

(Image from SproutSocial.com).

Grey Hat S.E.O involves the use of some Black Hat S.E.O techniques for legitimate purposes. Unless you are using these techniques for a legitimate purpose, they can be classed as Black Hat – so there is an increased risk of your website being penalized by search engines. I recommend that the use of techniques be used sparingly. As with all S.E.O campaigns, a solid strategy will be needed to help mitigate the risk that Grey Hat S.E.O techniques involve. Below is a rundown of some common Grey Hat S.E.O techniques in use today:

  • Cloaking
  • Paid links
  • Duplicate content
  • Hidden text
  • Buying old expired domains
  • Spinning/rewriting old articles

You can see more comprehensive overviews of Grey Hat S.E.O techniques by visiting the links below:


Final Words

This post is a very brief overview on the three main types of Search Engine Optimization in use today. Because S.E.O is affected by constantly updated search algorithms, and also rise and falls in ranking for competing websites, researching all types of S.E.O has to be constantly undertaken. While I strongly recommend the use of White Hat S.E.O, strongly not recommend the use of Black Hat S.E.O, and recommend caution with Grey Hat S.E.O, each one will involve elements of risk (high, medium, or low) that need to be planned carefully in your S.E.O strategy/plan. Since social media also plays an important role in S.E.O, it is important to plan this into your strategy as well.

Extra Resources

Here are some extra resources below that I recommend you have a look at:


If you have any opinions, some extra information, or would like to ask me questions about S.E.O, feel free to submit a comment – I will respond as soon as possible. Your feedback will help me in my self-learning about Search Engine Optimization :).

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