Search Engine Optimizers (SEO) can wear many different “hats”. The color of the single hat is determined by the SEO philosophy and the methods, that is used to optimize websites. We usually speak of:

Black Hat SEO
White Hat SEO
Gray Hat SEO
As an affiliate it is important to understand the difference and the risks between the single SEO Hats.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO is also known as SEO spamming, and is when someone creates websites that have little or no value, that are intended to trick the search engines into offering irrelevant or low-quality search results.

Black Hat SEO will heavily leverage technology and automation in order to create tons of poor quality sites, and gain inbound links from other websites (link spam). Once the visitor has arrived to the website, the owner of the website will often use some kind of cloaking or redirect to show the visitor a sales page of the products, that is the really goal of the Black Hat SEO technique.

Black Hat SEO are all about getting fast results. The method they use to optimize their websites will often get the website to the top of the search engines very rapidly, but when the search engines catch-on, the website will very often crash or get banned.

I do not condone Black Hat SEO for affiliates, because it is very risky SEO business, and it can especially damaging, when it is used on a website, that you have invested heavily resources in.

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO focus on building quality content first and SEO second. White Hat SEO may use technology and automation to build their websites too, but they use it to accomplish different goals. They write content for people, not search engines. White Hat SEO tend to rely more on their content and marketing skills to achieve a top ranking, rather than automated programs.

White Hat SEO understand that good search engine rankings takes time and don’t try to rush results. White Hat SEO are able to get more inbound links from other websites, because their content is considered valuable. They go by the philosophy CONTENT IS KING.

When you use White Hat SEO tactics you run absolutely no risk of being banned by the search engines and visitors who come to your website will also be more likely to convert.

Gray Hat SEO

A lot of SEO fall into the Gray Hat category, and there are many shades of gray. Some Gray Hat SEO tend to use more questionable tactics and take greater risks. Gray Hat SEO is all about risk versus reward. Some Gray Hat techniques may be frowned by the search engines, but are not necessarily against their rules, while other techniques may be more risky and should be used only after careful consideration.

What SEO hat should you wear ?

The hat that you decide to wear should be determined by your goals and objectives. I would never recommend anybody to use any black hat SEO strategies, because these strategies are short-lived and will almost always get you banned in the search engines.

Everybody should strive to be a white hat SEO and focus on writing quality content. However it may make sense for you in some instances to use Gray Hat SEO tactics to gain a competitive advantage. But when using Gray Hat SEO tactics it is very important, that you measure the risk and reward of each strategy, and determine for yourself, if some of these Gray Hat SEO strategies makes sense for your websites.

But it is important that you never take too big a risk with your most valuable websites, and here it is much more valuable, that you make a more safe and long term SEO strategy for these websites.