Back when Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster graced the silver screen, cowboys in white hats were often linked to the good guys, while cowboys in black hats were considered the bad guys. Fast forward way too many years and that representation still rings true for SEO strategies. The difference between white hat and black hat refers to the types of websites linked back to a brand’s domain.

Want to know how to use white hat SEO strategies?

Saving the day with white hat SEO techniques goes hand in hand with all SEO best practices, using quality content with relevant keywords — and keeping within search engine guidelines. White hat strategies include linking (and receiving inbound links!) from relevant, industry related websites or business listings. This also includes content-specific keywords, keyword-rich page titles, metadata and simple website navigation.

When do you use black hat SEO strategies?

Well, basically you don’t. Black hat strategies violate search engine guidelines but that doesn’t mean that a brand’s website isn’t unknowingly using them. Black hat strategies include links from Private Blog Networks (PBN), adult and gaming websites or spam link directories. Toxic backlinks can also negatively impact rankings because Google, for instance, will impose a penalty on a website deemed to be engaging in black hat strategies.

Before riding off into the sunset, it’s important to remember to continually monitor the backlink profile of a website. As a marketing professional, especially if you inherited a website from your predecessor, you will need to scan and clean the site of hidden link farming, keyword stuffing and bad published content. Removing black hat SEO techniques will ensure a brand’s website ranks higher than others.

If you would like to learn more about how to scan your website for black hat strategies, or how YPM can help leverage your existing content strategy, sign up for updates HERE.