An SEO technique is considered white hat if it conforms to the search engines' guidelines and involves no deception. As the search engine guidelines are not written as a series of rules or commandments, this is an important distinction to note. White hat SEO is not just about following guidelines, but is about ensuring that the content a search engine indexes and subsequently ranks is the same content a user will see. White hat advice is generally summed up as creating content for users, not for search engines, and then making that content easily accessible to the online "spider" algorithms, rather than attempting to trick the algorithm from its intended purpose. White hat SEO is in many ways similar to web development that promotes accessibility, although the two are not identical.
Clients often ask me the difference and I give them a simple answer that normally puts an end to the conversation and their questions, much like the answer shane thomas gave, but less detailed. Direct is people putting in your url in the top and organic is people searching for you. Here is an example: If I want to buy a book i type in amazon.com (direct traffic) but if i forgot where to buy a book online i search for "where to buy a book online" which directs me to amazon.com (organic traffic). When i explain it like this, a light bulb goes off and they understand. Hope that helps.
Incidentally, according to a June 2013 study by Chitika, 9 out of 10 searchers don't go beyond Google's first page of organic search results, a claim often cited by the search engine optimization (SEO) industry to justify optimizing websites for organic search. Organic SEO describes the use of certain strategies or tools to elevate a website's content in the "free" search results.
Another tip you can use is just reach out to the prior agency and say something like the following: “We realise you were using link networks for our website which has resulted in a Google penalty and loss in business. Can you please remove my website from any link network you have built?”. If the prior agency is decent, they will remove the links from the network.
What you are in fact talking about, are Google's death stars like the Shopping box, Knowledge Graph etc. It's fully understandable why many SEOs can't stand them 'cause whole categories of websites (price comparison platforms, for instance) have already fallen victim of such death stars, and there will be certainly numerous other portals, which will lose almost all of their traffic in the near future. Despite your (quite good) suggestions on how to circumvent such an issue, the situation for such an endangered portal can be hopeless when it's its whole business model, which a new Google feature makes obsolete. See geizhals.at for a very famous example.
To find the right people I downloaded a list of some of the most popular users within the community. To do this, I used Screaming Frog SEO Spider to gather a list of all the URLs on the website. I then exported this list into an Excel spreadsheet and filtered the URLs to only show those that were user profile pages. I could do this because all of the profile pages had /user/ within the URL.
BrightEdge research supports that a blended approach is best for delivering high performing content. Not only will combining organic and paid search increase website traffic, but it will offer a bigger return on the investment. Take Retail, Technology and Hospitality industries, for example — organic and paid search combined make up more than two-thirds of their total revenue.