White Hat vs. Black Hat - High Risk and Low Risk Tactics

White Hat and Black Hat Tactics

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At a recent SMX Conference, Matt Cutts (head of Google Web Spam) gave great examples of Black Hat and White Hat tactics as either high risk or low risk. Here are some blackhat/whitehat tactics and their relative risk factors:


TopicHigh Risk
"Black Hat Tactics"
Low Risk
"White Hat Tactics"
CloakingShowing different content to different users based on user-agent(i.e. Googlebot)Showing the same content to all users
Doorway Pages Little or no useful content pages meant to rank well for a specific keyword set and then funnel traffic to a specific pageUseful/Unique/Benefitial content meant to rank well for a specific keyword set.
Link BaitCreating stories that are blatantly false merely to bait people into linking to your siteCreating unique, beneficial, and interesting stories that allow web masters an editorial choice (informed choice) to link to the content.
Widget BaitCreating a widget that has
  • Hidden Links
  • Links to Off-topic sites
  • Links to a site other than where the widget was downloaded
  • Stuffs keywords into the link back
  • Doesn't openly disclose what is associated with the widget (links, etc.)
  • High number of links paired with the widget
  • Provides full and open disclosure of all associated links
  • All associated links are on topic and beneficial to the user
  • Limits the number of links
  • Simple link like: This widget provided by...
Search Results in Search ResultsCompiles a list of links where the person has to click again before they get to the real content they were looking forProvides content that is what the user was looking for


Trust and credibility is a limited commodity on the Internet and is much easier to lose than gain. Higher risk items can quickly lose your credibility and cause your site to be banned from the search engines. With more and more SEOs working inhouse on their own company website, higher risk tactics are just not an option.