White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO


What makes good Search Engine Optimisation?

In early Westerns, cinema goers could tell the good guys from the bad guys by their hats; good guys wore white hats and baddies wore black.

When referring to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), you’ll often hear the same terms used to describe different methods of increasing page rankings.


Black Hat = Bad

Since the early days of search engines, people have realised the economic benefits of ranking high in page results.

In 1994, it was not uncommon to look at the code of a commercial website and find a search engine bait line like:

<META NAME=”Description” CONTENT=”XXX blonde” >

Keyword stuffing

As search engines became smarter, they would pay less attention to metatags and more to content, so savvy web developers began looking for new ways to get their attention. A favourite was “keyword stuffing”. This involved populating a page with as many keywords and phrases as possible. Often, there would be a huge list of keywords in white text on a white background hidden in the footer of the page.

Once again search engines figured out how to punish websites using this practice by changing their search algorithms to give less importance to keywords in footers and more to inbound page links. If people are linking to a page, it must be good, right?


The blackhats immediately began setting up “webrings”. These were like pyramid marketing for websites. Simply build yourself a Links page and put links to the other sites in the ring. They, in turn, link back to you. Backlinks for days.

A similar theory was behind “link exchanges”, which were like targeted webrings.

Right through this blackhat period, search engines continued to improve and optimise their algorithms. Google rose to prominence in the early noughties because the quality of its algorithms allowed it to return the page results that people actually wanted.


White Hat = Good

An SEO copywriter’s job is to craft compelling copy for a website and use best practice, white hat techniques to boost that website’s search rankings. We accept the power and complexity of search engine algorithms and so avoid doing anything the likes of Google or Bing may consider ‘devious’.

The best approach to SEO

All SEO best practices are driven by relevant, quality content to attract the right visitors to your site. That includes:

  • A page title that reflects what is actually on the page
  • Useful meta descriptions that read well in search engine results
  • A main heading that describes the most important thought on the page
  • A well-written and informative page that visitors will find useful
  • Regular updates and new content like blogs/news feeds, gallery photos and resources

If you have an interesting site that has the information people are looking for, and then promote that site, people will visit it and link to it. Your page rankings will go up.

As the shampoo ad says, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. 4

The Orion effect

Content is king

…that’s the SEO catchcry.

Take a look at your current site and try to imagine how it looks to a search engine. Your pretty gallery of products is just a bunch of <img> tags to Google. To get found, what you need is keyword-rich text.

Have a look at your pages. Are they organised with good keywords in the title and headings? Are you clearly describing all the features of your products? If you don’t know what’s the criteria for a ‘good keyword’ or where to start with your web copy, that’s ok – Orion SEO copywriters are here to help.

Keep it fresh

When was the last time this page was updated?

We often see companies who take a “set-and-forget” approach to their website. This is unfortunate because a website that just sits there is quickly dismissed by search engines as having nothing new to offer.

Your website is a vital component of your marketing strategy and you should allow money from your marketing budget to make sure that it remains up-to-date and filled with fresh, high-quality content.

Need a hand?

At Orion, we can audit your current site for ways to improve its white hat SEO appeal and then put in place a regular schedule of updates. This could be a News/Blog page where you discuss the latest advances of your company or the latest tips and trends in your industry. It could be a Portfolio/Gallery where you show off your recent projects.

Much of the time, this fresh content can be repurposed into email/print newsletters, or social media posts to drive even more customers to your site.

If you need help with your SEO, get in touch with us today for a no-obligation chat.