Color-coded SEO Techniques

As the colors of the types of search engine optimization suggest, there are stark differences in the approach and long-term results of white hat, grey hat and black hat search engine optimization. Though all types of SEO have their proponents, most companies/websites with long-term, stable, and sustainable goals will tend to stay away from the dark-colored variety. Here is a quick overview:


White Hat SEO Black Hat SEO
Definition White hat SEO utilizes techniques and methods to improve the search engine rankings of a website which don't run afoul of search engine (mainly Google) guidelines. Black Hat SEO exploits weaknesses in the search engine algorithms to obtain high rankings for a website. Such techniques and methods are generally in direct conflict with search engine guidelines. Plus, search engine algorithms are modified frequently by the search engines to avoid just this methodology.
Wholesomeness Level High Very Low (not wholesome at all if you ask search engine engineers).
Techniques Some white hat SEO techniques include: high quality content development, website HTML optimization and restructuring, link acquisition campaigns supported by high quality content, manual research and outreach. Some black hat SEO techniques include: link spam, keyword stuffing, cloaking, hidden text, and hidden links. Taken to the extreme, these measures could actually result in search engine blacklisting.
What to Expect Steady, gradual, but lasting growth in rankings. Quick, unpredictable, and short-lasting growth in rankings.

Most search engine optimization companies, however, operate in a gray area, aptly named Gray Hat Search Engine Optimization. Whether by design or under pressure from clients to deliver results, many search engine optimization companies try to deliver solutions and results for customers by utilizing techniques which don't quite cross the line into black hat SEO, but are well outside of what would be considered white hat search engine optimization.

White Hat search engine optimization may take longer and more effort, but the lasting results are well worth the effort.

In the end there is really no 'right' or 'wrong' way to do search engine optimization, but those shopping for SEO services should be aware of the different types and approaches so that they know the level of risk they are assuming.