White Hat vs Black Hat vs Grey Hat SEO Practices: What’s the Difference?

Black hat and white hats were used in western movies in the 1920s to differentiate between good and bad guys. A person wearing a black hat was shown as a person with a bad character and a person with a white hat was shown with good character. This phrasing has since been embraced and used in different businesses throughout the years, particularly with regard to security. Black hat SEO and white hat SEO have their origins generated from there. If you are new to the SEO world and thinking to kick start your career in SEO, you need to get yourself introduced to these practices also.


There are SEO practitioners who use malicious tactics to rank a website or a page ahead in a search engine. These practices were given the name of black hat SEO practices. The main focus of black hat SEO is on search engines. These people use malpractices for their interests. The interests of the audience are neglected. Their only aim is to rank a site ahead and get more traffic.

Search engines make sure that the content which is being published by using their platform is of some value to the end-user. If the search engines sense that the content is vague and is present only for getting higher rankings, then your practice would be considered a black hat.

The main examples of black hat SEO are-

Keyword stuffing

It is the practice of putting irrelevant keywords in the content or putting a single keyword again and again. It is done with the sole purpose of manipulating the search engines to show your page or website even for irrelevant queries.

Private Blog Networks (PBN)

Private Network Blogs are a way of creating a large number of links to a site to rank it higher. It is a collection of many blogs/sites created by a single person. These blogs/sites are usually inactive with outdated content. The creator of these networks edits the content as per his needs, whenever required, and then provides the link in his main blog.

Sneaky Redirects

Redirecting, here, means sending the user to another page other than he initially clicked to open. Black hat SEO uses redirects to send the search engine bot to some other page and the audience is sent to another page.

Why do you need to avoid black hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is said to be the dark side of the content writing field and is risky. The use of these strategies is not illegal but it is still against the guidelines issued by search engines. These strategies would provide short-term gains to you or your client but in the long run, the search engines will recognize your black hat SEO practices. Eventually, it will get you or your client’s website reported or blocked. If you still wish to use these practices, you must prepare yourself to get penalized heavily.


As defined earlier, the word white hat got its origin from western movies. The word white in white hat SEO itself indicates the use of right-minded practices. The practitioners of these techniques follow the guidelines issued by search engines to get their page or website ranked higher in organic ways. In these techniques, the human audience is targeted and the content is solely written for educating and informing them.

The main examples of white hat SEO are-

Relevant and quality content

The content in white hat SEO is written to inform the audience. It is rich in information and listed from reliable sources. Only relevant keywords are used in it. As a result, the audience is provided with only the content which is relevant to their search.

Use of focus keyword in meta descriptions

A meta description is a snippet containing up to 155 characters below the main heading when the search engine shows the result for a particular keyword. White hat SEO practitioners use the focus keywords here to rank higher.

Maintaining keyword frequency

Maintaining the keyword density while writing content is one of the main white hat SEO techniques. Nowadays, a density of around 1-2% is maintained in the content.

Why you should use White Hat SEO practices?

White hat SEO is a way to make your website sustainable. The clients always look for white hat SEO to create and maintain their image in the digital market. Another reason to adopt white hat SEO practices is that these prevent you from being penalized and eventually save your cost.


Grey hat SEO tactics are those which are less risky than Black Hat SEO and riskier than white. These tactics can be said to be a blurred line between black and white hat SEO. The practitioners of grey hat SEO use ill-defined published guidelines in their favor by getting around them. It cannot be said with certainty that these practices are unethical or bad. They are used to getting higher rankings. These practices can help in higher rankings of your site without having negative consequences.

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Examples of Grey Hat SEO are-


It is a practice that shows different results to the search engine and the audience. They are designed to trick the search engine bots. Cloaking also includes many pages on a single website so that the website can take advantage of keyword stuffing.

Purchase of old domains

The web is a house of old domains abandoned by owners. These are used to create backlinks to rank your site higher.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is that which is available on more than one website. If your content was published later than the other website with similar content, then your content will be identified as plagiarized.

Social media automation

There are some tools available that do the job of following- unfollow 1000s or more social media users without your efforts. These tools do not include the tools that are used to schedule posts on social media ahead of time.

Should Grey hat SEO be used or not?

As there are no fixed grey hat SEO strategies and it is a dubious way to rank your site higher, you should try to avoid using these practices. Another reason to avoid grey hat SEO is the changes in its classification every year. One strategy could be a grey hat for one year and turns black hat the very next year.

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