... just dug up an old article from a while back. Thought it was still helpful...
What is white hat and black hat SEO and where do we draw the line between them? In short, white hat is used to describe techniques that are with in the guidelines of search engines and black hat (also known as spamdexing) those that use all the unethical ways to achieve top ranks (usually short-lived).
Matt’s description: “White hat SEOs adhere to the letter of the search engine guidelines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) and black hat SEOs will use any method they can to promote their site while trying to avoid getting banned. Gray hats are somewhere in between these two extremes.” – Matt Cutts
Well, Matt has actually answered both questions. There are a couple of gray areas between these two forms of SEO and therefore there isn’t a definite border between the two.
It is easy to describe what white hat SEO, but I thought that it would be of help for some of you if I listed black hat activities. Not that I want you to adopt them for yourself, of course, but that you should consider steering clear from them. Such actions could possibly get your site banded from some search engines. I am not going to explain all the tricks in the black book as there are too many.
- Keyword Stuffing - well this is basically what the name says. Inserting or hiding keywords in a page to increase the density of that keyword. Search engines are wising up to this trick and can tell when keywords are being injected into the page.
- Meta Tag Stuffing - repeating unrelated keywords in the meta tags.
- Scraper Sites - also known as “made for Adsense” sites. They basically scrape results/information of search engine or news sites for example. This automatically updated data provides fresh content for the site. These sites are always full of adverts; that is where this type of site got its name from.
- Hidden Links - hiding links where they can’t be seen in order to increase traffic either by search engines or unexpected clicks.
- Mirror Sites - multiple sites all containing the same content hoping that search engines may rank some of the keywords in the URL higher in more than one of the URLs.
Some others that I have not explained are URL redirects, cloaking, blog spamming, spam blogs (splogs), referrer log spamming, doorway pages, link farms and many more…
WOW, there seems to be more black hat tactics than ethical SEO methods. My advice to you is this: stick to the search engine’s guidelines, don’t tarnish you name with shifty SEO tricks and you will do just fine. What you should be aiming to accomplish is a site with quality content or something helpful that people will enjoy and recommend to friends. Keep it real!