Organic vs “Black Hat” Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This article is not meant to be a comprehensive guide. The goal is to present the reader with an overview of Organic SEO, what it is, what it does, and the difference between organic and “black hat” SEO.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

It is pretty simple to define what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is and what it does. SEO is the process of optimizing a website for search engine friendliness. The proper utilization of SEO will cause a website to climb up the search engine results pages (SERPs) and keep it at the top. This is important because sites that rank the highest on SERPs are the ones that get the most targeted traffic. More targeted traffic means more sales, shares, inquiries, etc. for the site. Simple, right? However, the mechanics behind it are quite a bit more complicated.

Why Organic?

Not all SEO is created equal. I always feel it’s necessary to distinguish between Organic SEO and “black hat” SEO. “Black hat” SEO is the practice of using unethical or aggressive tactics that are against the search engine’s terms of service (ToS) to make a website rise rapidly in search engine rankings. 

Some of the most common “black hat” tricks include, but are not limited to: cloaking (showing different content to search crawlers than the users see), blog spamming (commenting on blog posts with links to the website using automation), link buying (purchasing links to your site from irrelevant websites), domain squatting (purchasing a valuable domain to advertise an irrelevant website), etc. In general, these methods can cause a website to skyrocket up the SERPs very quickly and are used typically by those who only need their website to rank for a short time. Using “black hat” methods will eventually, probably rapidly, get a website banned or blacklisted by search engines, so it just doesn’t pay in the long run.

In contrast, Organic SEO uses only tried-and-true methods to ensure a steady climb in search engine rankings that will last over time. It is in the best interest of legitimate businesses to choose the ethical, organic techniques that bring lasting results. It might take a little more time to see these results, but there will never be a concern about being penalized, or even banned, by any search engines.

What are the aspects of Organic SEO?

There are many components to successful Organic SEO. It is an art and a science, which includes both on-page and off-page elements, as well as a lot of time and effort. There are no shortcuts in Organic SEO. Examples of on-page SEO are content building using relevant keywords, title and META tag optimization. Off-page elements include legitimate link building (high number of valuable links that point to your webpages) and social-bookmarking. In conjunction, these and other ethical methods are powerful tools in promoting your web content.

Some of the current best practices include:

  • Create content for users first and search engines second;
  • Abide by all search engine rules and guidelines;
  • Keyword research;
  • Content and META tag optimization;
  • Image optimization;
  • Legitimate, organic, manual (non-automated) link building;
  • Search engine friendly page URLs;
  • Sitemaps.

Again, this is not meant to be an all-inclusive list. Please do your own research for more complete and detailed information on how to develop your SEO strategy.

SEO is like so many other things in that it can be used in a positive or negative way. It all truly depends upon the practitioner. If the goal is a long-lasting campaign that will continually garner increased traffic and sales, Organic SEO is the way to go. Slow and steady will definitely win the race. The moral is, always create content with people in mind first to practice ethical, organic SEO.

Have your own suggestions? Feel free to leave them in the comments!  🙂

By: Danielle Dandridge