In the SEO world, there are two types of link building strategies: white hat and black hat. At the risk of oversimplifying, white hat tactics are good and black hat tactics are bad. Both may give your content a boost, but only white hat tactics will help you in the long term. Companies that employ black hat tactics temporarily do well, only to crash and burn in the search results later.

What exactly are black hat tactics?

Now that you know that black hat tactics are bad, you’re probably wondering why. Black hat tactics tend to be employed by those who don’t want to take the time to create high-quality engaging content. Instead of doing the work, these companies take shortcuts that annoy Google and the sites users. As a result, these sites get penalized and possibly banned.

Examples of black hat SEO are stuffing unrelated keywords into your content, content automation, cloaking, hidden content, and unrelated links. Unrelated keywords are mostly self-explanatory. However, it also includes trying to jump on a completely unrelated bandwagon. For example, you see Taylor Swift is trending, so a website says something along the lines of “Taylor Swift would love our organic cleaning products.” The makers of those organic cleaning products clearly don’t know if she would like it. It’s just an unsuccessful attempt to cash in on a trend.

As for content automation, we all know when a bot is churning out content because it doesn’t sound natural. Hidden content is when a site creates content that’s the same color as the background to hide unrelated content. The user won’t see it, but search engines will still pick up this text and use it for their rankings. That is until they catch a site using this scheme. Unrelated links can be hidden or thrown at the end of a page. Because Google and other search engines assign a value to links, some websites link back and forth to each other in an attempt to boost everyone’s ranking. This may work temporarily, but as with all black hat tactics, search engines eventually figure it out and penalize those sites.

What are white hat tactics?

Unlike black hat tactics, which are easy to do, white hat tactics require hard work. It is worth it to stay on the good side of SEO because as black hat sites drop in the rankings, your site will go up. Examples of white hat tactics are creating quality content, effectively and correctly using keywords, linking to relevant sites, and making sure a sites meta descriptions are accurate.

Whatever you do, don’t resort to black hat tactics. You may see results in the short-term, but they won’t be long-lasting and could forever damage your reputation among search engines. Once that happens, you’ll have a harder time attracting visitors to your site because your site may never make it back to the first page of search results.