The Different Colored Hats of SEO

There’s an old expression about wearing more than one hat. It can apply to varied aspects of life, including home, work, and school. However, you might be surprised to learn that there are also different “hats” in search engine optimization (SEO).

The term “white hat” became commonly used in SEO. A white hat doesn’t try to beat the system to improve its listing. They’re referred to as “ethical hackers.” They monitor hacks of other types of hackers. They look for security weaknesses in various computer systems and networks, but they don’t try to exploit the system in a malicious way. Instead, they help inform the systems owners so they can fix the security issue before the vulnerability is exploited through malware, scamware, ransomware, etc. The weaknesses can be reported through a telephone call, email, or “e-calling card” that lets the webmaster know that the security has been compromised. This depends on whether the white hat hacker is pursuing this as a hobby or working for a security firm. White hats follow search engine rules in order to boost a website’s search ranking.


There are also black hats in SEO. They use underhanded techniques to get their results. Ironically, many techniques that are used for black hat SEO were once considered to be 100% legitimate. However, they caused problems for the online community, which caused the SEO community to frown upon the practices. Sometimes black hat hackers later became white hat hackers and work for organizations such the U.S.’s National Security Agency.

One of the main problems with black hat SEO methods is that while they are effective, they typically just have short-term gains. Today’s search engines are complex, and can determine when people are trying to cheat, or use certain methods in order to achieve particular results. The result is often a ranking penalty, and can even result in the search engine being removed from the website.

Finally, there are grey hat hackers in the SEO community. They manipulate the search engine rankings of web sites by using unethical methods. This results in the grey hat method being converted into a black hat method. The main issue about grey hat SEO techniques is that they’re technically legal. However, they’re not quite considered white hat SEO. It’s important to note that the idea of SEO is a very controversial issue. Some people argue it’s a less blatant type of black hat SEO, while others argue it’s not. Basically they say it’s about people getting away with certain methods until the techniques become black hat SEO.

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