What Is White Hat SEO?
If you work in marketing or technology, you may hear terms like “white hat SEO” and “black hat SEO” tossed around, without fully understanding what they mean. It’s fairly simple to understand on a basic level. White hat SEO refers to using SEO (search engine optimization) tactics that are acceptable under the terms and conditions of major search engines like Google. In contrast, black hat SEO includes techniques that are generally considered deceptive, like purchasing links. Search engine algorithms are improving to the point that black hat techniques are becoming less and less effective, so if you’re looking to grow your brand and invest in SEO for your business or brand, you’ll likely be looking to use white hat SEO.
Understand White Hat SEO Techniques
When you’re looking to improve your search engine optimization using white hat SEO, there are a lot of techniques that are commonly used to boost your rankings on the search engine results page (SERP). Staying within the ethical bounds of common search engines like Google is the best way to promote your business without sacrificing integrity or harming consumer trust. Engaging in tactics that are or appear to be deceitful may offer short-term results, but the long term damage to your brand is most often not worth it.
When starting out learning about white hat SEO, the first thing to do is understand common strategies so you can implement them. You can start with the structure of your website itself. Fast loading times, simple navigation, and being mobile-friendly are three simple things you can do to improve your SEO. You’ll also want to make sure you’re using meta tags that have plenty of relevant keywords. Be smart, as websites like Google are improving their technology. Don’t just spam every variation of a word or phrase, put effort into researching keywords. Linkbuilding remains of high importance, but you want to ensure they’re the right kind of links that are relevant to your site.
SEO Tools and Tips
If you aren’t experienced in SEO, there are a myriad of resources available online to help you learn about best practices. Not only that, but there are digital marketing firms dedicated to providing expert guidance if you find yourself unable to do the work yourself. If you’re not an expert in white hat SEO, you may want to consider enlisting outside help to get the best results. You can start with resources like SERPTheory.com, which offers an informational podcast, strategy sessions for both individuals and businesses, forums, blogs, and advanced SEO expertise. If you’re going to invest time and money into search engine optimization for your website, and you should, you want to make sure you’re receiving the highest-quality results in return.
Ultimately, the success or failure of your endeavor rests on your content, which is one of the top Google ranking factors. The Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 study indicated that only about a third of businesses feel they are “effective” at content marketing. The best content combines usefulness with innovation and once you have content, it’s all about having it reach your intended audience. Google’s increased use of rich answers, or a result for a search that appears on top of the results and doesn’t require a click-through, is something to consider. The churn rate for rich answers is over 55%, so it’s not a reliable method for staying on top of the results page.
White hat SEO isn’t only essential for growing your traffic, it’s also the best way to maintain your place in the rankings of top search engines. Black hat, deceptive, and unethical shortcuts can actually get you banned from search engines like Google, and you may never be given the opportunity to be relisted. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines outline some of the basics for staying compliant with the rules. If you’re struggling to understand SEO and what type of strategy would best suit your website, don’t hesitate to enlist an expert to help or take advantage of the resources available online to help. When it comes to increasing traffic and expanding an audience, there’s no replacement for good white hat SEO practices.