Did you know that there are different types of search engine optimization (SEO)? In fact, SEO can be white hat (good), gray hat (ill-advised), or black hat (bad). Once you understand the differences between these types of search engine optimization, it’s up to you to decide which one you’re going to use. Keep in mind that if you choose to dabble in black hat SEO or want to pay a company to use it for you, it can come with heavy consequences, from getting your website blacklisted on search engines to turning off potential customers.

White Hat SEO – Considered the right way to use search engine optimization, white hat SEO will help you get found on the search engines, drive traffic to your website, and increase your conversion rates. To engage in white hat, you need to stick to using a restricted number of relevant keywords in your website’s content, headlines, and descriptions. Use the saying ‘quality over quantity’ when applying white hat SEO to your marketing techniques. If you use countless keywords throughout your website and stuff them everywhere you possibly can, you’ll be heading into black hat SEO territory, a scary place you definitely don’t want to go. Remember, there is a huge difference between making your website SEO-friendly and making it SEO-heavy.

See: SEO and SEM Basics for more info on how to apply white hat SEO to your website

Gray Hat SEO – Gray hat SEO is a blend of some white and black hat techniques, making it an ill-advised way to utilize search engine optimization. Duplicate content/article spinning is a gray hat SEO technique that is frowned upon. Article spinning is the practice of tricking the search engines into thinking a keyword-heavy article is unique by using software that replaces enough words and phrases to make it seem new. Using an automated article submission tool to submit these articles to hundreds of websites is another gray hat SEO technique.

Black Hat SEO – Think of black hat as the Darth Vader of the SEO underworld. Unethical, unadvised, and a little mysterious, black hat SEO will try to lure you in with the promise of outstanding search engine results and maximized profit. However, black hat SEO can also get your website banned from search engines completely as well as repel prospective customers with a site that is filled with unreadable content and looks ‘spammy’. The practice of black hat SEO includes keyword-stuffing, which is flooding your website with keywords (some relevant, some not) and even hiding (cloaking) hundreds of keywords on your website. Link farming, which is exchanging links with other websites to boost your site’s ranking is considered black hat SEO as well. Anything that tries to trick search engines into thinking your site is more popular than it is falls into the dark side of SEO. And any company that uses black hat SEO techniques and promises you the world is really only going to deliver nothing but a bad reputation and lost profit to your business.

Resist black hat SEO – the dark side of the SEO underworld (Source)