Black Hat SEO: How Does It Compare With White Hat & Gray Hat

When we perform an expert Enterprise SEO Audit In this article we are going to share what is largely my opinion on Black Hat SEO, What Hat and Gray Hat.  

The biggest difference between this article is that I’ve actually done all there was of these types of SEO and was trained by successful professionals in all three types.  I’ll share my successes and failures with all three.

Black, What, Gray Hat SEO, What You Need to Know Before You Read This Article

You should note, we are experts in something we call “Diverse What Hat SEO” – meaning, using safer methods, we more aggressively build long traffic to your website. In fact, we have a free course you are welcome to take.

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black Hat SEOs are generally a super interesting group of people. The more successful Black Hat’s I’ve spoken to all believe that all websites will be affected by SEO updates. 

Meaning, at some point, Google or whatever search engine they focus on will update their algorithm and millions of website sites will lose their hard earned traffic, regardless if they do White Hat, gray hat or black Hat. 

This is a fact I find to be true, for example poorly trained What Hat’s might be doing something that is clearly violating Google’s policies without realizing.  It’s also something that happens in SEO in general, it happens, especially to beginners, an update comes and you lose traffic. It’s part of the game and something you should add to your mindset when considering SEO if for you or not.

「Churn & Burn」 Websites – also translate churn & burn into chinese (if you can)

「Churn & Burn」is a phrase you’ll often hear among black hat SEOs. It means you make a website that you know will get hit with a Google penalty.  

Meaning, you build a website that takes advantage of a loophole that gets fast rankings, once it gets hit with a penalty and Google figures out you are breaking the rules, you simply build another one. 

Over time, you’ll learn how long it takes for Google to penalize your website. For example, if you figure out that every 3 months Google will remove your website from their results, you’ll know that after 1 month you’ll have to start preparing a new website. 

So, by the time Google removes your website from their results, you’ll have another website that is ready to rank. 

Hence the phrase “churn and burn” – once one website is out, you have a factory that is ready to make a new one. 

Pros

  • You See Results Very Quickly – If you really know what you are doing, generally you’ll see results within a few months. 
  • It’s Really Fun  – Provided you are not doing anything illegal, it will be super fun. Every day of your life is focused around finding loopholes in Google.
  • Low Cost (kinda) – By far the most low cost of these types of SEO. You mostly use tools to generate content or backlinks.  For example, you’ll never have to hire a team of writers or editors to manage them. 

Cons:

  • Probably the Hardest Type of SEO –  All the black hats I’ve met are super smart. They can easily get a high paying job on Wall Street.   You have to be able to create your own methods and strategy, not copy other people. 
  • Low cost, but not cheap – Black Hat SEO is highly focused on tools, the tool cost can really add up, you can easily spend $500-$1,000 USD per month.   Every single successful black hat I have met uses a lot of expensive tools. 
  • The tools are hard to use – The SEO tools are often not “user friendly” and made by other black hats. You’ll have to spend weeks if not months really learning how to use them.  Meaning, you have to be pretty “techie.”
  • Your Work Is Never Done  – One day you’ll wake up and all your traffic will be gone. Then you’ll have to start from scratch. All Black Hats I know are very comfortable with this fact and are confident enough to find more loopholes in Google.
  • Courses and trainings are very hard to find and often expensive – Since you are taking advantage of loopholes, as opposed to providing real value, most black hats do not want to share their tricks. It might have taken them years to develop their strategy, if you can find them, why would they tell you for free?  If you find a course quickly and easily, it probably sucks. 
  • Some styles are illegal –  for example some people hack into other people’s websites. I have never done this and would never recommend this.  

White Hat SEO – What is it and how does it work?

White Hat’s are known for following the rules.  The main advantage here is that it is the most ‘long term’ strategy.  The general concept is that you more or less follow the rules and you are less likely to get penalized. 

Meaning, if you have a real brand that you want to stick around for at least a few years, most likely this is the way to go. 

For example, White Hats will produce quality content that will help their end user. 

A good way to look at it is if you want to sell your website or brand, white hat websites go for much higher multiples. Meaning, you can sell a SEO website that gets traffic for a lot more money. For instance, a black hat website is impossible to sell (to anyone smart), gray hat websites are very sellable, but don’t sell for as much. 

When I last checked, at least in English, they sell for 5x more. Meaning a Gray hat website might sell for 32x (3 years average profit) but a white hat might sell for 37x if not higher.

This number is always changing, so you have to figure out if the math isn’t 100% correct, but it is a known fact that they sell for much more. 

Link Building

In this case, the type of link building they do, helps them obtain legitimate links. Meaning its “more” within Google’s guidelines and more long term.

Why is following the rules bad?

Often, they never see results :-D. Usually the best White Hat SEOs are former (or current) Black Hat Or Gray Hat SEOs. For example, if you do everything Google suggests, it might take years to start seeing results with your website. 

This is because they know how to get things moving, but they do it in a way that is more likely to comply with Google rules and regulations. 

Pros:

  • Less likely to get penalized and loose traffic from search engines. 
  • Websites and brands sell for much higher multiples
  • Really the best choice for long term brands  

Cons:

  • Many white hats never see good progress – In short, since it takes so long, many just don’t know how to drive good results. 
  • Link Building isn’t always within Guidelines – Many ‘think’ they are following the rules to later find out they messed up. 
  • No one is 100% safe from Google Updates – Many think they are ‘safe’ – this isn’t true, the only safer strategy is to have a diverse SEO strategy.  

Grey Hat SEO – What you need to know

Gray Hat’s are somewhere between What & black. Meaning their on-page SEO is very similar to a White Hat and many will even produce very high quality content. 

For example, you have probably visited these websites and had no idea. 

Where they differ is their link building style. Many use 「PBN」 or 「Private Blog Network」

What is a PBN – Private Blog Network?

It is a network of websites that already have some kind of authority. 

Look at it this way, millions of websites fail every year. You can buy those websites at auction for a low cost (and sometimes very high cost.) 

Then you can rebuild those websites and link to your own domains, therefore gaming the system. 

Pros:

  • Often Good at getting results – this type of link building is very aggressive and you completely control your backlinks.
  • Somewhat long term – the content is often pretty good on these types of websites. 

Cons: 

  • PBN networks are very hard to set up – the hosting environment is actually quite complex. For example, each website requires a unique IP.  
  • Very expensive to set up – Many gray hats fail to say how much it costs. Often it costs $10,000 – $100,000 depending on the size of the network. Think about it, you have to build all the websites, put content on them, monthly hosting costs, each site has a unique theme, domain renewal fees, it really adds up. 
  • High learning curve – you really need to be trained by someone who is super up to date.  What is needed is constantly changing. 
  • Google Can Remove Them From Their Index – it’s common that they get removed from the Google index. Meaning you can pay lots of money to get them going, at some point, there is a 100% chance Google will devalue the links or remove them from the index.
  • Hard to maintain – they constantly get hacked into or have some weird problem. Very time consuming and you often have to hire someone to manage the network.

Diverse What Hat SEO – Where the other hats fail

This is our own terminology and the type of SEO we teach. The general idea is that you follow what hat concepts, but do it in an aggressive way. 

Where most SEOs fail, is that they only do “one thing” that works. Over time Google catches on and you lose all your traffic. 

With our style of SEO, you do 3-4 different things that work, this way if Google removes 1 or 2 of them, you still have a business. You might see a traffic drop, but more than likely, you’ll be able to pay your bills tomorrow.   

Pros: 

  • Lots of Free information – we give a lot of the information away in our free SEO training section.
  • Diverse Strategy – You become profentence if we use different SEO strategies, for example there are different types of Keyword research, onpage SEO, link building strategies that all work. Why not use all of them instead of focusing on one? Generally speaking, 90% of SEOs make the mistake of becoming a specialist in only 1 of these areas. 
  • High Quality Sites – Never say never, but we have not been hit with updates or Google penalties for years using these strategies. Where competitors got hit with major traffic drops, we saw improvement or minor drops in traffic. 
  • See results quickly – well quick in SEO terms, SEO takes a while to get going, we see ranking improvements within weeks or months.

Cons

  • You have to become proficient in a few different types of SEO – You have to take the time to learn how to become decent at Keyword research, onpage SEO, etc.. 
  • Not for lazy people – If you are looking to “get rich quick” probably not the best path. It’s better for people who want a legitimate business or want to provide real value.  

Final Thoughts 

What really matters is that you get going. Get started today in the type of SEO you find the most interesting. Make mistakes and learn from them.

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