Understanding the different types of SEO

The world of SEO is huge and complex. Because you are trying to game one of the biggest companies and the most visited website on the planet, it’s no surprise that there are so many different approaches.

Broadly speaking, there are four main types of SEO that people agree on. All of them aim at getting you to rank as high up the search results as possible, but not all of them are good for your business.

The four main types of SEO are:

  • White hat SEO
  • Black hat SEO
  • Grey hat SEO
  • Negative SEO

The main thing that differentiates each type of SEO is the kind of tactics they use, the longevity of the tactics and how quickly it takes to see improvements.


Blackhat SEO

This type of SEO is used by people to get the fastest results possible. It’s also one of the cheapest forms of SEO, too. This is because people who practice blackhat SEO are taking shortcuts and hacks to get to the very top of Google as fast as possible. They aren’t concerned with creating quality results, they are just concerned with getting that number one ranking. To do so, they will use tactics that specifically go against Google’s guidelines such as creating spammy links. That means that while these tactics might get you to the top of Google sharpish, there is a strong likelihood that you will get banned from the search engine when you are caught. And because Google updates the algorithm hundreds of times each year, your rankings may only last for a few days.


White hat SEO

White hat SEO is the type of SEO that most agencies, including our own, will practice. This is the practice of optimizing your website for Google according to the search giant’s guidelines. There are things Google does allow when it comes to SEO, as well as things that it bans. Of course, doing things by the book takes longer to see results. On the plus side, however, those results should last for ages. When you reach the top of Google using white hat SEO, it is usually very hard for another website to push you off. All of the main SEO authorities will only promote white hat SEO tactics and, in truth, it’s the only type of SEO that you should be investing in.


Grey hat SEO

Greyhat SEO comes somewhere between blackhat SEO and white hat SEO (hence the name). Grey hat SEOs use tactics that are considered spammy but are not necessarily ruled out in Google’s guidelines. While technically allowed, there’s a danger that these tactics might be ruled out tomorrow. As such, anyone using grey hat SEO techniques is taking a risk. There’s nothing stopping Google ruling out these tactics and tanking your rankings. Google even explicitly says it will go after people looking to exploit their algorithm using grey hat tactics. While these can see results quicker than white hat SEO, they aren’t worth the risk. You have been warned.


Negative SEO

This is the practice of using black hat tactics on someone else’s website. This is commonly done by creating lots of spammy links and pointing them at a competitor. Unsurprisingly, this is also against Google’s guidelines.