White and black has always represented two sides to something—yin and yang, Spy vs. Spy, Oreo’s. As with the rest of the world, there are two distinct sides to search engine optimization (SEO), white hat and black hat. White hat tactics follow the rules put in place by the search engines to rank better, whereas black hat tactics try to fool the search engine. Where there is good there will always be evil, and this evil’s name is black hat.
Search engines put these rules in place early on to combat the number of spammers out there and create a more user-friendly experience by increasing the quality of the search result. Since search engines know it is generally in human nature to lie, cheat and steal, they started penalizing those for doing the same with SEO and “black hat” tactics.