Exploring White Hat SEO
Websites that wish to increase their number of visitors need to make sure that they use White Hat search engine optimization (SEO). By doing this, you are not only improving your visibility to a broader audience but also playing by the rules. To learn more about what White Hat SEO is and the different techniques to use, continue reading below.
What is White Hat SEO?
First, let’s define White Hat SEO. White Hat SEO refers to the strategies and tactics that aim to provide users with the best search engine results and to increase one’s ranking in the SERPs in an ethical manner. This method uses organic techniques, which means that the website itself has to be of excellent quality.
Website managers need to optimize everything on their site to ensure that they do well in the search engine ranking. These search engines will focus on judging the quality of content that can be found on your site. There are numerous factors that you have to consider and ensure that they are presented in the best way, such as:
- Written content
- Meta information
- Site performance and speed
- Site design, architecture, and navigation
- Visual content (images and videos)
As long as you try to operate your website without outsmarting or tricking the ranking algorithm, then you are practicing White Hat SEO.
Why is it Important?
White Hat SEO is essential since search standards and transparency have elevated throughout the years. It has become increasingly difficult for websites to find loopholes in the system. If you try to cheat your way into the ranks, search engines like Google can identify the action that has violated its terms.
Today, people who spend a lot of time surfing the net are a lot more discerning when it comes to browsing through a website. If you are not providing engaging and high-quality content, they will most likely exit and go to another site. Instead of stuffing a bunch of keywords into your written content, it is better to create original content.
Go Deeper: More Resources on SEO:
- What is SEO
- What does SEO Stand For
- The Ultimate Guide To Organic SEO
- The Top Local Search Ranking Factors
- Technical SEO and How it Affects Your Website’s Rank
- How Does SEO Work for Your Business?
- SEM vs. SEO: Tapping Your Business Potential
- White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO: Are You Doing SEO Right?
- Easy Guide to Getting Local SEO to Work for Your Small Businesses
- The On-page SEO Checklist
- Keyword Research Mastery: The Beginners Guide
- The Ultimate Google Algorithmic Penalty Recovery Guide
- Questions you SHOULD Ask Before Hiring an SEO Expert
- The 5 Step Beginner Guide to SEO Writing That Ranks
White Hat SEO Techniques
There are several White Hat Tactics that you can apply to your website, including:
Keyword Research and Analysis
It is crucial to make sure that you are adding keywords that many online users search for daily. Although people frown upon ensuring keyword incorporation to the content, it is still vital since you can ensure that people are looking for such topics on the internet.
There are many keyword tools and methods that you can use. One way is to visit the “Performance Report” found in the Google Search Console. Once you open this, you can see various keywords that are arranged in descending order according to the number of clicks. However, it is better to check the “Impressions” category to know which ones could bring your website more traffic.
Another way for you to come up with keywords is by visiting online communities, such as Reddit or Quora. You can go through the related posts to see what words they use the most.
There are also free tools you can use online that can analyze the web for questions that are related to your topic.
Looking at your competitor’s website is also very helpful. Try to visit sites that are doing well in the search engine ranking and hunt down keywords that are repeated over and over again. If it works for them, it definitely will work with your site too.
The simplest way to find famous keywords is by typing in what you want on the Google search bar. Google will then provide you with suggestions. It is vital to take note of these because if Google suggests it, it means that people search those words regularly.
Publish exciting and engaging quality content
This is the most crucial element in SEO. Not only do you have to write excellent content, but you also have to ensure that you are consistently providing your audience with content that is helpful and meaningful. One excellent post cannot guarantee constant traffic on your website.
You’ve got to make sure that you are not making general lists that many of your competitors have already covered. If you can discuss everything there is to know about the topic in the article, your page can quickly climb up the ranks. Also, it would be best if you can satisfy the reader’s intent when they finish reading through your post.
Before even writing your article, you have to research and try to understand what your audience will want to get from it. Of course, when writing anything for the public, you have to make sure that it is readable and easily understood.
The first thing that visitors will read is the introduction, so make it concise and straight to the point. If you do this, you can grab the attention of the readers and make them continue reading the entire article.
According to statistics, the length of the top ten pages is made up of more or less 2,400 words. If you wish to achieve the same results, you must follow the trend accordingly.
To improve your audience reach, you will need to promote your content and website through various methods. You can share your posts through different social media sites or publish them directly on other well-known websites.
The key to this is determining the right audience to target. As long as you have excellent content, you can encourage other people to promote it to the audience they already have.
You must partner up and try to maintain a long term relationship with them. This way, they can help you when you are in need, and you can do the same for them.
Natural Link Building
Top ranking pages usually have several backlinks that are directly related to their website and content. When selecting links, you need to make sure that it is relevant and high quality,
The selection process is a pretty long one. You have to contact your potential partners and pitch them your idea before you can use their links.
You can assign a group of people to focus on the email outreach in promoting your content so that you won’t have to carry all the burden yourself.
Claim your GMB
These days, when people search for a specific service, they take a look at the establishments near them. If you claim your GMB, your physical location can easily be viewed when people search for a specific business.
You can quickly claim your GMB by applying for it and completing all the necessary forms and steps.
For your site to rise in the ranks, you have to make sure that all the technical aspects are neatly setup. Your page loading time should be short, pages well organized, and errors quickly addressed and fixed.
Remember to setup your site in Google Search Console. This has several benefits, such as monitoring errors in your site, faster chances of indexing via submission of a sitemap, and manually submitting new blog posts.
Other than that, you have to make sure that your site is mobile friendly. Most of the people in the world today use their phones to surf the internet, so this is a must. In a way, ensuring these can improve user experience, and thus elevate your standing in the ranks.
Make sure that you are using the best UX practices depending on the interest of your target audience.
Schema.org has several sets of HTML tags that you can add to a page for readers to have a more detailed description of what your website is about when they are looking for it in the search engine. By doing this, you are not only improving user experience but also making your website stand out from the rest.
In a way, it also helps the search engines since it can quickly determine what your web page is about.
Take a look at the screenshot above. You can see the rating the recipe has, the number of reviews there are, the time it takes to bake, and how many calories it contains. From this information, you already know what to expect when you click on the site.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEO is an “illegal” way for you to improve your ranks in the search engine. However, it is through methods that cheat and trick the system. In short, Black Hat SEO is the opposite of White Hat SEO.
Instead of focusing on the readers and trying to impress them with content, black hatters aim to impress machines. They do this because it helps them climb up the ranks a lot faster.
Black Hat SEO techniques do not follow Google guidelines and try to find loopholes in the Google algorithms for them to attain their goals.
Difference between White Hat and Black Hat SEO
The two SEO types are similar in the sense that their goal is to rise in the ranks and attract more visitors to their website. However, there are several differences between the two.
The most significant difference between the two is the manner in which the end objective to reach the goal is achieved.
While White Hat SEO focuses on providing unique, quality content that naturally earns backlinks, blackhat SEO uses tactics that are illegal in the eyes of search engines, especially Google, in an attempt for “faster” ranking.
A disadvantage of using Black Hat SEO is that there are several risks involved. If you are caught using such techniques, you will face different penalties and drop in rankings, if not totally deindexed.
Why Avoid Black Hat SEO Techniques at All Costs
Although there are functional implications of using Black Hat SEO strategies, it is still undoubtedly unethical. Other than it being a dishonest act, there are other reasons why you should avoid this practice, such as:
- It is costly. Black hatters end up paying more for immoral ways. In the past, Google was not as strict, which allowed the practice of Black Hat SEO to be much cheaper. However, because Google has increased security and has gotten smarter, old-school black hat tactics do not work anymore.
One example is the creation of a PBN. You will have to pay a large amount of money to buy expired domains and get a hosting server.
- It is very risky. Again, Google has upped its patrol and can now easily spot Black Hat techniques. They have implemented penalties and punishments for those who try to cheat the system.
If you ever get caught, you won’t be able to get out of it, and you will have to face the consequences. It is better to improve your ranking through honest ways.
- It is a complicated procedure. To pull off Black Hat SEO techniques, you need to be computer savvy since you need to search for loopholes in the system. There are instances wherein you may have to hack certain websites, and you can only do this if you understand how the web works.
Common Black Hat SEO Techniques
1. Private Blog Networks (PBN)
This is the practice of buying expired blogs, particularly one with a good number of backlinks and/or good Domain Authority, rebuild these sites, add content, then eventually add links to their main website.
2. Link Farms/Link Buying
There are sites offering to place links in their sites to your site. Usually, this is on a subscription basis, though some may offer a one-time price.
3. Keyword stuffing
When this is done, your content becomes unreadable and full of nonsense. In the past, keyword stuffing was a way for websites to generate more traffic and achieve a higher rank. Shoving several unrelated keywords into a post downgrades the quality of your content.
4. Comment spam
Those who create blog posts are aware of comment spams. These are automated comments that would show specific keywords and unrelated backlinks. Everyone who runs a site should make sure that the comment section has the no-follow tag. Having this notifies Google that you do not allow passing search ranking to the other sites.
5. Web scraping
This refers to stealing content from other websites and posting it on your page as if it were yours. This is illegal since you did not get the consent of the owner or author. Google can easily spot such action and penalizes the website accordingly.
It is the act of showing different content to users and Google bot. Readers may be looking at a particular visual content, which may have hidden links and text in the HTML. Since search engines look at the latter, black hatters can include keywords in it, thus increasing their search engine ranks.
Watch this youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHtnfOgp65Q&vl=en to learn more about this matter.
7. Hidden text
Although nobody uses this tactic anymore, this was a popular illegal way many years ago. What unscrupulous website owners to is, on the web page itself, people may add invisible texts, links, or keywords by making the font color the same as the background.
8. Irrelevant Redirects
Although redirection is an excellent way of making navigation much easier for the user, black hatters can misuse it. There are times wherein sneaky redirects can fool the search engines and the users.
9. Link Schemes
There are many instances wherein websites buy and sell links. Yes, having backlinks on your page is helpful, but link wheels are a complete no-no. Google reprimands sites that make use of programs or apps that automatically creates links.
10. Malicious Site Behavior
You should never manipulate your readers by redirecting them to a different site or page from where they intended to go. Some sites even go too far by changing their visitor’s search preferences without their permission.
There are also instances wherein you end up installing unwanted software just by visiting their website. To avoid getting penalized by Google, you should always ensure proper online practice and White Hat SEO.
11. Spammy links
This is negative SEO in the sense that, for competitors to bring you down, they will send bad, spammy links to your site. Google will think that you are employing tactics to ramp up your backlink count suddenly.
So as a website owner, how do you prevent or solve this?
It takes constant monitoring of your site to make sure you do not have spammy links. If and when you suddenly see a rise in your backlinks and you suspect that something is performing negative SEO on your site to bring you down, you need to report this to Google via Google Webmaster Tools to disavow links.
Consequences of Black Hat SEO
In recent years, Google has done its best to identify websites that are utilizing Black Hat SEO techniques. They have improved their system to make it even more difficult for black hatters to attempt cheating.
Google punishes specific websites by preventing traffic into the website and excluding some of your web pages from search results.
Another consequence is getting your rank reduced. Even if you have continuously appeared on the first page of the search, you could still get excluded once they notice any malpractice.
The worst penalty would have to be the exclusion of your site from search results. This immediately kills the organic search of your business. When this happens, sales could drop instantly.
On Google Search Console, you may see a notification of a manual action against your site. If such a message appears, it means that they have detected some sort of issue, and they are giving you a chance to make the necessary changes.
Once you have addressed their concern, you can then send a reconsideration request. When Google receives this, they will revisit your site and check if everything has been settled. If they confirm the changes, they will restore your ranking.
White Hat SEO is a way for you to maintain your strong online presence in search engines. The bottom line for Google is producing unique, high-quality content that will eventually generate leads and traffic. Offer useful information and high-quality content, and Google “rewards” your site with good ranking.
If you invest in Black Hat tactics, you may end up tarnishing your status. These two Hat SEO practices wish to achieve the same results. Blackhat SEO, however, attempts to trick ranking illegally, and Google eventually finds out.
You need to remember that the end never justifies the means. It is best to always stick to the rules even if it takes longer for you to climb to the top. Only then can you build trust with your audience and search engines to earn and maintain long-term improvement in ranking.