White-Hat SEO refers to all the optimization techniques which abides by Google’s search engine guidelines. Although one needs to be patient to see results, they are sustainable and create genuine goodwill around your brand. Besides, there is no risk of your site getting banned or bumped down in the search results if there is a new algorithm change. All in all, white-hat SEO is low-risk and high rewards if you do it right. Examples of white-hat SEO techniques include authoring useful and relevant content after doing extensive keyword research, earning links from high-authority sites based on the merit of your on-page content, etc.
Black-hat SEO is the exact opposite of white-hat SEO in that it finds and takes advantage of any loopholes or weaknesses in Google’s search algorithm to rank better on its SERPs. It does not stick to the search engine’s list of SEO dos and don’ts and resorts to spammy or paid link building methods, keyword stuffing, showing different content to bots/crawlers and humans (called cloaking), etc. to get ahead. It goes without saying that black-hat SEO can get your site blacklisted or its rankings to drop so it is best avoided. Besides, these high-risk SEO techniques give you only short-lived results.
Grey-hat SEO tactics are often used by SEO agencies due to pressure to see quick results from a client and fall in between white and black hat SEO in terms of approach. Although Google’s webmaster guidelines do not explicitly say that such methods are prohibited, they are still frowned upon and can lead to undesired search outcomes. Examples of this type of SEO include clickbait content that is sensational yet mediocre and of no value to the user, excessive and suspicious link exchange between sites, paid reviews, etc. Again, it is best to stay far away from such underhanded SEO tactics.
Negative SEO Among the different types of SEO, this is by far the most detestable and unethical. Negative SEO is done with the intention of making your competitor’s search rankings suffer so that you yourself can take their place or benefit from it. Negative SEO methods include hacking into someone’s site and building a suspiciously high number of low-quality links to it, posting negative feedback or reviews about them in various online forums, etc. Needless to say, negative SEO can even lead to legal ordeals if the one practicing it is caught.
On-Page SEO All the measures you take to make your web page rank higher on search engines falls under this umbrella. On-Page SEO includes authoring high-quality content with the sole purpose of it proving helpful to your website visitors, adding meta tags to help Google bots better understand your content, using HTML tags to highlight headings and other content elements and ensuring there are no broken links or duplicate content/pages. Cleaning up the URL structure and having an ordered naming system for various similar pages that fall under one category, choosing images that are not too big while writing descriptive file names, etc. are just a few other on-page SEO techniques.
Off-page SEO refers to everything you do outside of your site to fare better and feature higher up in Google’s SERPs. It includes working on external ranking factors like building links from trusted sites in the same domain as you, successful social media marketing, having customers give you a positive review on various online forums, etc.