White hat is the term used to describe any person in the field of information technology who uses practices that abide strictly by the rules.
In search engine optimization, this means to avoid taking shortcuts and to work the hard road that leads to long-term success.
The term originates from slang that was found common on Internet bulletin boards in the early days of the Internet. It was originally a term meant to refer to hackers who worked purely to improve the security of a system without damaging, stealing or causing any harm to the person who owned the computer system.
In some cases, white hat hackers may have even published and written patches to vulnerable software for users and brought issues thought to be of no consequence like the string termination vulnerability in modern programs to light.
Many white hat hackers were what was referred to as ‘hacktivists.’, meaning that they worked to found the hacker culture.
The term “white hat” can be applied to computer security, information technology and search engine optimization. When it comes to SEO, the term means to specifically follow the guidelines put in place by search engines.
This can include highly optimizing on-page SEO factors and avoiding practices considered “black hat” or “gray hat”, such as blog comment spam or even empty forum profiles.
The guiding principle, besides to follow the rules, that white hat SEO experts take is that they wish to create content that will ultimately benefit other people. This allows everyone, not just customers, to take something away from what is created during the SEO process.