Black vs. White: Determining which SEO Practices to Avoid

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a valuable marketing tool in the digital age, some would say it’s invaluable. When implemented correctly, it gives your company a competitive edge in an overly saturated online market. But a lack of understanding of SEO can lead to mistakes that have costly consequences.

The confusion that surrounds SEO often stems from its technicality. Non-marketers find it daunting because of the technical aspects. Some assume that SEO is limited to their website, while others can’t grasp the importance of it in today’s market.

This lack of knowledge leads to bad practices that will ultimately harm your online presence. Familiarising yourself with SEO helps you choose what SEO you need and improve your digital marketing campaign.

White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO

The main goal of SEO is to improve a website’s visibility online and there are many techniques one could apply to do this. All SEO is about the influencing of search engine algorithms however some practices strain the boundaries of what would be considered ethical. This is where the divide in SEO comes in.

This digital marketing strategy is divided into two factions: white hat SEO and black hat SEO. Although both boost visibility, they employ different practices to achieve this goal. Knowing more about these differences helps you avoid unethical practices that can put you in Google’s bad books.

What is White Hat SEO?

White hat SEO are strategies and techniques that play by Google and other search engines’ rules. It focuses on providing Internet users with the best results for their queries. Rather than the company or brand, white hat SEO puts the user first.

Google and other search engines support this by implementing changes that penalise websites that are inconsiderate of users. Adopting white hat SEO practices in your digital marketing campaign means developing an online presence that is user-centric.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Google and other search engines have an established set of guidelines for digital marketing. Black hat SEO employs questionable means that often go against these guidelines. It increases a site or page’s search engine rankings by gaming the system. Unlike white hat SEO, black hat SEO puts the user last.

Why Black Hat SEO is Bad

Online visibility is vital for business growth. But using black hat practices will only damage your company’s online presence and reputation.

Google and other search engines have penalties in place for those who violate their guidelines. A penalty from any of them will cause your search engine page ranking to drop significantly. The worst-case scenario would be for the search engine to remove your site or page completely from the results pages. Both of these result in significantly less traffic to your website and naturally enough,fewer customers.

Search engines are constantly updating their systems to spot black hat SEO practices. Continuing to employ these tactics only puts your business at risk of missing business opportunities.

Black Hat SEO Practices to Avoid

Being able to spot common black hat SEO practices gives you valuable insight into digital marketing.

Here are the most common black hat SEO practices you should steer clear of:

Keyword Stuffing

Including relevant keywords into your content improves its searchability. But using too many keywords, especially irrelevant ones, puts you at risk of being penalised.

Keyword stuffing, as its name suggests, manipulates page rankings by using multiple variations of a term or phrase. This practice also includes listing down multiple phone numbers and locations to lengthen the copy.

Keyword stuffing, especially with irrelevant keywords, adds zero value to your website. It will only result in bad content that undermines your authority and reputation online.

This tactic is an old one that is not commonly used anymore as search engines have become more sophisticated and are better able to discern the relevance and value of the content for the user.

Blog Spamming

Engagement plays an important role in converting leads into customers. Interacting with users gives you the opportunity to foster valuable relationships with your target audience. But bombarding them with spam will have the opposite effect and open you to penalties.

Spamming the comments section with links and irrelevant comments is a black hat tactic that aims to drive traffic towards specific pages. However, search engine crawlers mark these as unsolicited content and flag them as such.

Aside from cluttering the comments section, spam harms the user experience. It causes them to miss out on valuable information and discourages them from leaving their own comments.

Duplicating Content

Content is the so-called king in digital marketing. Businesses are encouraged to publish fresh, informative and relevant content on their websites to generate leads. Additionally, it improves online reputation as it positions the website as an authority source.

Duplicating content is a major sin in digital marketing. Plagiarism is a common black hat SEO practice because it is easier than coming up with original content. Another variation of this practice is spinning content. This entails rewriting high-ranking content in order to take advantage of the same keywords.

Google and other search engines have systems in place to detect this type of black hat SEO. Avoid penalties and a bad reputation by creating your own content.

Link Buying

Link building is where you acquire hyperlinks from other websites. This is essential in digital marketing because links help search engines discover and rank new web pages. Good link building will take time, but it results in strong relationships with third-party sites.

When digital marketers want to take the easy route, they resort to link buying. This practice entails purchasing backlinks to redirect traffic towards your website. It’s considered a black hat tactic because it gives no indication on the quality of the content it is linking back to.


An effective SEO strategy generates valuable leads for your business. This is achieved by a strong and reputable online presence. But resorting to black hat tactics, like cloaking, only muddies your name in the online community.

Cloaking is when marketers trick users into clicking on a link that is seemingly relevant to their search only to be redirected to a page that is irrelevant to their query. It attempts to influence search engines into giving pages higher rankings for better discoverability.

The prevalence of this practice in recent years has caused search engines to develop solutions to address it. Now, search engine spiders have the ability to detect this black hat practice, opening your website up to penalties.

Mastering White Hat SEO Practices

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with black hat SEO practices, you can start mastering white hat practices. As we’ve mentioned, SEO is a valuable tool in digital marketing. Implementing the right techniques and tactics for your business improves your online presence and generates leads.

Here are white hat SEO practices to consider for your digital marketing campaign:

  • Go Mobile

Accessibility is essential in enhancing discoverability. Recent technological innovations and behavioural changes have made mobile the preferred device. When your website is not mobile-friendly, you are likely to lose valuable leads.

Google and other search engines seldom rank web pages that are inaccessible on mobile. Avoid this scenario by updating your systems. Make sure your entire website is mobile-friendly to improve search engine rankings and for better user experience.

  • Localise Content

Discoverability starts where your business is located. When users look up products and services, they use phrases like ‘nearby’ and ‘near me.’ Optimising your website for local searches strengthens your online presence in the areas that count.

Boost your SEO strategy by claiming your business listings and regularly updating them. This makes it easier for search engines to index your website for hyper-local results.

  • Target the Right Audience

Personalised content is the key in converting visitors into customers. When users visit your website, they already have an idea of what they want. Understanding who your target audience is gives you the ability to create content that they want to see.

Conduct comprehensive keyword research to determine which terms and phrases are suitable for your business. Include these keywords in your content, but enhance them with insights unique to your business. This gives you a competitive edge that sets you apart from the competition.

ZipSites: Your Partner in Digital Marketing

A good digital marketing campaign starts with information and familiarisation. But a much more successful campaign often requires professional help. The two go hand-in-hand in developing a good strategy. Work closely with ZipSites in strengthening your online presence with the right SEO practices.

Having launched in 2017, we have steadily risen as one of the leading digital marketing agencies in Australia. Our team is made up of green and experienced marketers, a good blend of experience and fresh ideas. Using the latest innovations and industry insights, ZipSites offers a full range of digital marketing solutions for businesses across the country.

We offer a comprehensive SEO service that only employs white hat practices. Additionally, we provide web design and development, pay per click advertising, and conversion rate optimisation services. Choose which solutions are better suited for your company and goals. ZipSites is here to help you with our hands-on approach to digital marketing.

Get in touch with our team to find out more about SEO and our other services. We’ll collaborate with you in creating a digital marketing campaign that generates valuable leads and converts them into loyal customers. 

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