Types of SEO
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 and black hat search engine optimization. Though both 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 SEODefinition
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.Wholesomeness Level
Some white hat SEO techniques include: high quality content development, website HTML optimization and restructuring, link acquisition campaigns supported by high quality content and manual research and outreach.What to Expect
Steady, gradual, but lasting growth in rankings.
Gray Hat SEODefinition
Gray hat SEO utilizes techniques and methods to improve the search engine rankings of a website which bend the rules of search engine (mainly Google) guidelines.Wholesomeness Level
Some gray hat SEO techniques include: creation of a lot of content targeting a large variety of keywords, link campaigns which may utilize some paid (but still relevant) links, and autogenerating pages such as directories to increase chance of rankings for long-tail keywords.What to Expect
Results may be achieved more quickly than using white hat SEO, but have potential to drop out of search engines once assigned low quality values by search engines.
Black Hat SEODefinition
Black Hat SEO exploits weaknesses in the search engine algorithms to obtain high rankings for a website. Such techniques and methods are in direct conflict with search engine guidelines.Wholesomeness Level
Some black hat SEO techniques include: link spam, keyword stuffing, cloaking, hidden text, and hidden links.What to Expect
Quick, unpredictable, and short-lasting growth in rankings.
The work of most search engine optimization companies, however, operate in a gray area, aptly named Gray Hat search engine optimization. Whether by design or 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.
Gray hat search engine optimization is recognizable by 'affordable' pricing, since the search engine optimization company has to reduce cost by resorting to questionable techniques in order to deliver results, instead of highly involved campaign activities.
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 taking on.