No matter what it is you do, being at the top of Google is extremely valuable. If you own a dental clinic and you want more patients, being at the top of Google means that you’ll be exposed to thousands of people who are looking for your services. If you run a blog and make money off of traffic, having your website show up at the top of Google will get you the traffic you need to pay your bills.
The question that comes up on this topic is “How does one get to the top of Google?” There are so many strategies to accomplish this, that a person can literally make hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, selling SEO courses. The first very basic thing to know regarding SEO is that there are 2 (and some might say 3) types of SEO that exist. You have “white hat SEO” and “black hat SEO”. Some people will claim that they are “gray hat”, but this is really black hat (which will be explained momentarily).
Google has guidelines that they have published for anybody who wants to build a website. If you own a website you may or may not know this, but Google expects you to follow their guidelines if you want to show up at all in their index (and thus having your website show up in the Google search engine results). When you’re following these guidelines, it is said that you are “white hat”. It means that everything you’re doing follows what Google wants you to do. It also means that Google won’t be giving you any kind of penalty for breaking their rules, and thus you’re safe.
The difficulty that some might say exists with white hat SEO is that it takes time and hard work. Brian Dean of backlinko.com offers a course where he teaches people several different white hat tactics to get to the top of Google. He gives a lot of training on building the type of content on your website that will go viral, or at very least it will get you attention from other websites and help grow your brand.
Some of the white hat strategies that exist include:
- Creating great unique content.
- Getting PR and press for your brand.
- Gaining attention and traffic via social media.
- Providing accurate and valuable information.
- Blogging as a guest on another’s website.
- Getting positive reviews across the web.
- Placing your company information across online directories.
For a dentist or plumber or photographer, these things might take some time. However there are many people who love to do the things that help them boom their business. Sally Matsukawa of Toy Elephant Photography in Franklin, TN is a great example of using white hat SEO for her brand. She loves to post blogs, she enters herself into photography competitions, she’s constantly shooting pictures of friends and family (some of which have websites that link back to hers), and she really just likes to be online talking about what she does. Because of what she does, Google has her ranking well for phrases like “headshot photographer Franklin TN” as well as some of her other services that she’s offering.
Now, on the other side of things we have black hat SEO and gray hat SEO. People who do gray hat SEO are still not following Google’s guidelines, they just claim that what they’re doing isn’t extremely spammy. Regardless, if it isn’t white hat, it’s black hat.
Black hat SEO is of course the SEO done that violates Google’s guidelines. The benefit that some see in this is that it’s “quick money” and “fast rankings”. It’s an effort to manipulate Google to make your website appear high in the search engine results with minimal effort. Google works hard to find people who use black hat SEO and knock them out of the Google index altogether.
Some of the black hat SEO tactics that exist include:
- Buying backlinks.
- Using your own network of websites to link to the website you want to rank.
- Keyword stuffing.
- Attempting to manipulate Google in any way to increase your rankings.
So how does this work? Well, when we look back at our example of Toy Elephant Photography, we see that Sally might take a week to prepare for a photography competition and that ends up with getting her a single link to her website. Two weeks later she decides to write a blog about her wedding photography. Meanwhile, someone who does black hat SEO is going to spend some money to buy similar links, and in much greater quantity (perhaps 10 or even more). The person who is doing black hat SEO now finds himself accomplishing the same amount of work that Sally did in a matter of minutes.
With that being said, someone who does black hat SEO can charge a roofer $4,000 every month to get him at the top of Google for a phrase like “roof repair in Nashville”, knowing that the roofer is going to make $3,000 or so profit with every new roof he builds. The guy using black hat SEO is going to get him to the top of Google within 3 months and the roofer (whether he’s good at his job or not) is going to be seen by hundreds of people. There are even people who do black hat SEO who are making hundreds of thousands every month on affiliate marketing.
There’s somewhat of a moral dilemma that exists in this though. What happens if someone doing black hat SEO decides he’s going to work for someone who produces poor results? Unfortunately this happens from time to time. When the motivation is simply money, moral integrity seems to go out the window.
For someone who does what hat SEO, this can be discouraging. However the good news is that Google works hard to get rid of spammers and people who are manipulating their search engine. They frequently update their algorithms and take manual action to penalize those who are producing poor black hat results.
In the end we all root for the guys who are making it big with good quality hard work. Google is doing the same.
Please leave a comment if you have any input on your experience with white hat SEO, black hat SEO or anything in between. Please also be sure to subscribe and share!