What Are the Different Types of SEO?

To most people, there’s only one kind of SEO, and it’s a magical set of tricks you can use to make your website rank higher in search engine results.

In reality, SEO doesn’t involve much magic (just strategic planning) and there are several different types. Typically, they fall under four main categories.

In this article, we will introduce you to the different types of SEO and explain what each represents.

What Are the Different Types of SEO?

All of the following types of SEO aim at helping you rank better in search results, but they differ in how long it takes to see results, the costs involved, and overall value.

Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO is about breaking the rules. Black hat will sometimes get you the results you want (and fast), but it generally goes against all of the policies published in Google Webmaster Guidelines. In fact, many black hat SEO tactics are specifically forbidden (like keyword stuffing) and these unethical tactics could quickly get your website banned from search results.

Are fast SEO results really worth that risk? We don’t think so.

White Hat SEO

The much safer, albeit slower, white hat SEO adheres to search engine regulations and, ultimately, delivers a better result. While it may take longer to get going, white hat results tend to compound over time, so the longer you use them, the better your results will be.

What’s the difference? Well, while black hat focuses on tactics used to “trick” search engines into thinking a site has quality content, white hat focuses on actually creating quality content. It’s about the audience and what they’ll respond to and, in the long run, it helps attract loyal, repeat traffic, thus positively influencing SEO.

White hat SEO can also include the process of working on your local listings if you are a local business. This simply means claiming and creating listings for your business on Google Maps, Facebook, and other big-name directories online. Making sure your information is correct and consistent online is an easy way to help boost rankings, and it’s safe!

Grey Hat SEO

If black hat is bad and white hat is good, then grey must be somewhere in the middle, right? Not exactly. According to SEO Consultant John Andrews, grey hat SEO isn’t something between black hat and white hat, but rather “the practice of tactics/techniques which remain ill-defined by published material coming out of Google, and for which reasonable people could disagree on how the tactics support or contrast with the spirit of Google’s published guidelines.”

It’s true that grey hat doesn’t necessarily break any rules, but it’s still not the best policy.

Negative SEO

Ouch. That just sounds bad, right? Why would you want to use negative SEO?

Well, actually, after you create a website, negative SEO isn’t something you do to your own site. It’s the practice of using black hat techniques to intentionally sabotage a competitor’s website. The tactics can take a lot of different forms:

  • Hacking a website
  • Copying proprietary content and freely distributing it
  • Creating fake social profiles
  • Adding spammy links to comments or reviews

It should go without saying that this is HIGHLY unethical, and also frowned upon by the people over at Google.


You now know what the four different types of SEO are. Want to learn more about SEO? Check out How to Use Your Website to Improve Search Results.

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