Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, refers to a set of strategies used to drive organic (unpaid) traffic to your business website. It involves both on-page and off page techniques, that when leveraged correctly, can give your business great benefits.

Related: A Detailed Introduction to SEO for Beginners

But like with most things, there are ways that you can “cheat” the system. And like most of these things, there are certain repercussions and consequences that will occur if you are found out. In regards to SEO, this includes being de-indexed or banned from search engines.

As an ethical business owner, you want to make sure that you are driving traffic to your website the right way. This means employing ethical and accepted SEO strategies, referred to as “white hat SEO”. On the other hand, unethical practices used to take shortcuts and manipulate search engines and users are named “black hat SEO” and should be avoided at all costs.

So before you start implementing an SEO strategy, read this article first. I will tell you the white hat SEO dos and black hat SEO don’ts so that you don’t make mistakes that will affect your greatly business ranks.

Drive traffic to your website the right way, using SEO best practices

Don’t Keyword Stuff

Keywords form the foundations of your SEO strategy and they play such a critical role in how well your website performs (for more information, please read my detailed introduction to SEO for beginners here).

This is because these keywords are then used in all areas of content such as your website content, blog posts, articles, meta and title tags, alt images, etc. Not only should this keep your search engines happy but you also need to find the balance in keeping your human audience happy as well.

For example, if your keyword is “freelance copywriter”, you don’t want to use it in every sentence just to increase the number of times it appears. You still need to consider your readers and what will read best for them.

“I am a freelance copywriter from Sydney. If you are looking for a freelance copywriter who can help promote your business, then I am the freelance copywriter for you.”

See this example? In these three sentences, I have integrated the keyword three times. While I may think this is great for search engines, how did it read for you?

Not only is it repetitive but it doesn’t flow naturally and makes the content disjointed.

This is called a black hat SEO tactic called keyword stuffing and it can kill your SEO.

Don’t Hide Text

Another black hat technique regarding keywords is making the font very small and changing the colour of the keyword to the web page background. This way, when the page appears, users are unable to see the keyword as they are “invisible” but search engines still pick it up.

While this can work on a short-term basis, chances are, search engines will pick up on this unethical SEO practice and punish your website for it. It can remove you from search engines altogether and this is something that will definitely not help drive traffic to your website.

So what can you do instead?

Do Integrate Keywords Seamlessly

The key is to reach 2-3% keyword density. This percentage relates to your keyword and word length ratio – a smaller word count means a smaller keyword density and vice versa.

In fact, once you reach optimal keyword density, the extra times you have included your keyword don’t really benefit you much at all anymore so it is best to aim for 2-3%.

For example,

“I am a freelance copywriter from Sydney. If you are looking for a writer who can help promote your business, then please contact me.”

This reads so much better and still seamlessly integrates the keyword into the text. Better still, it only uses white hat SEO.

It can be difficult to write great copy that is informative, SEO compliant and easy-to-read. This is why I recommend hiring an experienced copywriter to help write your business content for you.

Don’t Use Link Farms

Another important aspect of SEO is the number of backlinks that link to your website. This can be a difficult technique to put into practice because you are relying on others to promote your website.

Subsequently, some may opt for the easy way out and use link building websites.

Have you ever come across a site that had nothing but links on it?

That site is a link farm and they serve no real purpose other than trying to cheat the SEO system and increase the number of backlinks to the website.

Don’t get involved with link farms. There are other effective ways to increase inbound links.

Do Improve Link Building By Guest Posting and Other Means

There are many other ways to increase backlinks to your website that follow white hat SEO.

One of the more popular ways is guest posting. This is writing a guest post on another relevant website, preferably one that is an authoritative site, and linking back to your website in your byline.

In these cases, the other blog owner will also write a guest post for your blog, so you help each other out.

It’s a win-win situation.

Other ways include creating share-worthy content that people want to refer back to or recommend to others, such as detailed and informative blog posts or even graphics such as infographics.

Related: 8 Proven Strategies I Learned From Neil Patel’s Advanced Customer Acquisition Webinar

These are the right ways to drive traffic to your website so don’t rely on short-term black hat SEO.

Don’t Trick Users With Irrelevant Content

Don’t you just hate it when you see a search result that uses the right keywords and indicates that it hold the answers to your query? But then when you click on it, it comes up with something completely unrelated?

Tricking your customers to visit your web page even if it is irrelevant to their search is an annoying and frustrating black hat SEO tactic. While it may get visitors there, it certainly doesn’t help to maintain them and they will click the back button as soon as they realise. Not only is this unethical but it will increase your bounce rate.’

Not only is this unethical but it will increase your bounce rate.

Do Publish Relevant Content

The traffic that you want to generate to your website should be visitors who want to be there because you are providing them with something of value. This includes making sure that the content on your website is relevant to their search query.

This goes back to keywords. Make sure that you use keywords in your title tag and meta descriptions and that the main content on the page focuses on that keyword as well.

Doing this will enhance your reputation as a knowledgeable source in your industry and one that your customers can trust.

And above all else, it will drive traffic to your website the right way.

Don’t Spin Articles

One black hat SEO involves copying or plagiarising content from other popular sites. Doing this will help the website appear higher in the ranks when people search for it.

However, some may have discovered a loophole around this called article spinning. Rather than copying and pasting the content and publishing the exact copy, they will change some words, sentences or even paragraphs to create some variation between the original and the copied version.

This also helps to prevent search engines from identifying copied content.

However, not only is this black hat SEO but this is still plagiarism.

Do Write Original Content

Gain followers that want to read your content by making sure that everything published on your website is original and helpful.

If you really do like another article or post, then you can quote or cite sources from it. Just make sure you include who commentator or author and provide a link to the original version.

But just remember, the majority of the published work should be your work.

Make sure you only use white hat SEO

Now that you know how to drive traffic to your website the right way, make sure that you only use white hat SEO strategies. Yes, black hat SEO may yield short-term outcomes and white hat SEO does take a long time to see the same results but it is well worth the effort.

You will generate organic traffic made up of people who actually want to visit your page because they see the value in it.

In saying that, it is good to be aware of black hat SEO just so you know what techniques to avoid to drive traffic to your website the right way. This way, you eliminate the risk of being penalised by search engines such as not appearing in the SERPs and being de-indexed.What other black hat or white hat SEO techniques do you know?  Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear them.

And this is something that will definitely not help your SEO strategy.

What other black hat or white hat SEO techniques do you know?  Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear them.


I am a copywriter, creative writer, blogger, and SEO specialist, here to help you grow your business, one word at a time.

  • This was a really help article. Honestly, I’ve known about the good SEO practices. But I’d never even heard of black hat. That is so tricky to put the keyword in white so the audience can’t see it. I see how that probably worked in the early days, but search engines are pretty smart. My article on The Huff Post earlier this year got moved from the Contributor platform to the front page of the Healthy Living section. That created a Huff Post backlink to my website which seems to have been really helpful in getting me higher in search results. But I’m always looking for ways to do better.

    • That’s a really great backlink to have. I like your mentality of always reaching higher. It keeps you motivated and ambitious!

  • William Rusho

    I always mention this, as a former luddite, posts like this mean a lot to me. Information about SEO is so helpful and useful.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for reading. I am glad you find it useful!

  • Rose Mary Griffith

    Well said, Emily. I try to write naturally, then go through and see if I can add keywords and still have it read naturally. I would rather have five people like my post because of good writing than lure 100 people to my site with tricks.

    • I am exactly the same Rose Mary and I think that is a really good mentality to have as a blogger.

  • Courtney Hardy

    I’ve been blogging for a couple years, and I haven’t started hearing about SEO until now, and I’m still confused about how I do the white hat SEO, I’m new to this kind of thing, so I would love to hear more from you about how it all works.

    • Hi Courtney, SEO can be confusing when you first get started, I was in your exact same position as well! Have you read this post I wrote for SEO for beginners? ( I go into detail about what SEO is so you should give it a read. I will definitely publish more posts that go into detail about white hat SEO, how to use it and what online tools can help you do this so stay tuned!

  • Phoenicia Oyeniyi

    Thank you for sharing your expertise and knowledge Emily. It is easy to focus on the technicalities to further promote your blog but content is key. The first paragraph you wrote as an example of what not to do did not flow at all. Readers like meat, genuine content which pulls them in.

    • Content is definitely key. Without great content, you lose your readers from the very start.

  • I’ve never heard of the terms “white hat” and “black hat”! I haven’t given this very much thought, but it sounds like it makes a lot of sense. I have heard about the merits of guest posts, but I haven’t thought about it in terms of SEO. V cool :3 -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  • Interesting post, Emily. SEO is such a big factor for bloggers. You can all the great content in the world, but if your audience can’t find you, or doesn’t know you exist, it is hard to connect with them. With the help of my web manager, I have put a very focused effort into improving the SEO of my site over the past couple of years and I think the results are finally beginning to pay off. Such a lot of work!

    • That’s exactly right. SEO is so critical in helping your audience find you. I am glad that your site SEO is going really well. Keep it up! 🙂

  • Fascinating Emily. I’ve heard of several of these things, like link farms and black hat SEO, but never even considered using them. I wonder sometimes when I hear people complaining about how Google’s various updates has adversely affected them and I have a feeling the very things you advise against doing are the reasons some bloggers suffer more than others. Thanks for the advice!

    • It’s good that you have never considered using them. It may get you short term results but not great for long term! I remember reading an interesting article (I can’t remember where I found it otherwise I would have linked it to you) on a guy who built his SEO business by implementing black hat SEO and when Google changed its algorithm, he panicked and had to find new black hat techniques to get his clients rankings back up. Which he managed to do until Google updated once again and he had to repeat the process. It yields short term results but if you want long lasting outcomes, white hat SEO is the only way to go. Thanks for reading Marquita

  • Rosary Natania

    This is quite informative, I’m actually not that familiar with SEO so this was really useful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Catarina Alexon

    Emily what’s original content? Have come across thousands of articles online with the same content as the article you just wrote. Besides they were written long before you wrote your article. So should what you just wrote be considered original? Think about it because it’s impossible to write about any subject someone has written about before and not, by your definition, be a black hat. If you look at my Linkedin profile you will discover that I have worked with an abundance of top publications in the world. Believe me, they are under no illusion that what they write is original unless they get a scoop. I have had people copy articles from my blog word by word and pretend they wrote it. Welcome to the online world. If people like what you write it will happen to you as well. One woman who stole an article I had written claimed to be a consultant for corporate communication in the United States. Feel sorry for anyone who hires an “expert” who has to steal what others have written in order to get clients.

    • Hi Catarina, I was going to address this in the article but figured that it was already a given. When I mentioned original, I do not mean ideas. As is the general consensus, there is no such thing as an original idea but it is how you approach it, write about it and make it your own. By original in the article, that is what I am referring to. Not copying and pasting the exact words that someone else has already written as you have mentioned has happened to you a few times (which is black hat) but putting in your own thoughts, voice and style to make it “original”. Thanks for your comment, I will be sure to try and explain myself more clearly for my future posts. 🙂

  • Hi Emily, thanks for another informative and useful article. I have never heard of black hat SEO (or white hat for that matter). I have Yoast SEO on my blog and it tells me whether my SEO is good or not. Sometimes I am not able to use the keyword often enough for the reasons you mentioned – the keyword doesn’t fit. This could be a bigger problem than it is if I was blogging for money instead of for fun. Just the same, I’m paying attention to your info. Thanks.

    • Hi Lenie. Yes, I am sure you have already used white hat SEO tactics but at least now you know the name 🙂 I like how you are blogging for fun. I am the same, especially with my personal blog – I don’t actually optimise it at all because I enjoy blogging for the joy of it. Thanks for your comment!