SEO Hats? What’s Going On Here?
‘White Hat SEO’ refers to those Search Engine Optimisation strategies and techniques that follow the policies and recommendations of major search engines, such as Google.
Bing & Google search engines develop their algorithms to reward ‘white hat’ SEO with higher rankings and therefore more traffic. White hat SEO concentrates on optimising a website for humans to increasing organic traffic through site quality and sharing.
Then there is ‘Black Hat SEO’ which are tactics that focus on exploiting search engine algorithms in ways that don’t take the audience and users into consideration. They are spammy, annoying for users, irrelevant, and unattractive. They are tactics that if noticed by search engines to be ‘black hat,’ will get your site penalised, meaning lower rankings.
Here’s the Good News…
In 2018, it is easier than ever to choose between white hat and black hat SEO, and I don’t mean based on principle.
Search engine algorithms have become more and more advanced and refined that they have reached a peak point, where black hat SEO just doesn’t work that well anymore and white hat SEO does. Then because Google’s algorithms are constantly being changed and improved, SEO will continue to move in this direction.
We understand that you are busy, so if you don’t have the time or attention to read another 1000 words we have created a brief version below just for you.
WHITE HAT Search Engine Optimisation
- Clean, organised, appealing, instructional, user-friendly web
- High-authority, relevant backlinks.
- Great, bespoke, content which readers enjoy with external and internal links.
- Accurate information about your location and company.
- Keyword optimisation with relevant keywords.
BLACK HAT Search Engine Optimisation
- Poorly organised websites designed to deceive search engines.
- Poorly written content stuffed with irrelevant keywords
- Stolen Content
- Low-authority backlinks from sites with nothing to do with the business.
- Inaccurate business information
For those of you which still want to know more, we have put together more detailed comparisons of specific SEO techniques below.
We will take a look at some ‘black hat’ tactics to avoid like the plague in your SEO campaigns, and also provide information on some ‘white hat’ techniques you can implement today.
WHITE-HAT Search Engine Optimisation – Content KEYWORDS
Keywords have been abused by the black hats for a long long time, a few years back people would look to stuff as many keywords into a page as possible and so they lost some effect, however they are still an important factor of on-page SEO, but only if used correctly.
Adding your keywords to meta descriptions and meta titles is a strong and incredibly important SEO technique that is encouraged by search engines,
It can also help to add your keywords to image titles and alt tags on the backend of the website that users never see.
Furthermore, your keywords should be relevant to the content on the site and should only be optimised for one, maybe two words for each page. Don’t try to rank your homepage for 10 different keywords.
If you want to rank more than one page for the same keyword, don’t use the exact match keyword in the same order for all of them. Google won’t penalise the page, but it will split the authority of that keyword between those pages. Rather than having of one page ranking well for its keyword, you would get two / three ranking worse for that keyword.
It is also important to put your keywords somewhere in the h-tags so that when search engines crawl your website, they see those keywords as being important information about your site.
It is good practice to make sure that your pages are properly organised with H1, H2, and H3 tags in the correct ordered and that keywords are included.
WHITE-HAT Search Engine Optimisation – CONTENT
Key Point – Great, Relevant Content
In today’s online world and blogs, Google encourages and rewards longer, more relevant copy that is specific to the proper audience for your industry.
Blog posts should 100% not be filled with spammy links or keywords—they should be correctly pointed, well-written, and maybe most importantly original.
Bing & Google want to see great content. It’s really quite simple. It doesn’t have to be something new each day or even every week. It just has to be original and good quality. When writing it you should just think what your audience would want to learn.
You might ask “How would search engines know what good content is?”
There is one simple answer to this. Your visitors tell them. Part of Google/ Bing’s ranking benchmarks is partly based on ‘bounce rate’ .
So when a visitor goes to your page and then immediately leaves because they don’t like what they see or don’t find it helpful, it is called a ‘bounce’. High bounce rates are not good for your rankings as they mean that many of your users are leaving your pages quickly.
Google therefore will reward a website with lower bounce rates as it shows that the content on the site is clear, informative and that users want to read it.
We have said this a few times so far but making sure that your content is original is really important. Visitors want useful information that they haven’t already read on 4 other websites and on that point it also has to be relevant. That’s just the way it is.
If you have 2 web pages with similar copy then make sure that the content is worded differently and that it is both user friendly and necessary.
WHITE-HAT Search Engine Optimisation – BACKLINKS
In 2018, search algorithms are created to ignore irrelevant links and reward pages for high-authority, relevant backlinks.
One way to get these links back to your website is to write fantastic content that others in your industry will want to share on their websites, and offer them the content for free.
They will then publish the blog with a backlink to your website. The best part is that not only will you get a relevant backlink which could help to enhance your authority with Google, but readers who enjoy the content will follow the link to your site and possibly look at your services. Another place where you can get backlinks is from business listings on good directories, where any backlinks will enhance your trust with search engin.es.
WHITE-HAT Search Engine Optimisation – LOCAL SEO
One of the foundations for your ‘white hat’ SEO campaign is for local Search Engine Optimisation, starting with creating a Google Location. It’s super important for your websites rankings that Google knows your business has a legitimate location and then also has business hours, reviews, images, website, etc. Main reasoning for this again comes back to credibility.
Linking your website to Google’s tools such as analytics, Google business, analytics and Google Webmaster Tools is one of the simplest and also most important ranking factors available.
BLACK-HAT Search Engine Optimisation – KEYWORDS
Filling your website’s copy and meta descriptions with keywords in order try to get higher search rankings is possibly the most common spam technique online. It is called ‘keyword stuffing’ and falls under the ‘black-hat’ for 2 reasons.
1) Unfriendly and uninformative.
2) Trying to trick Google by using high keyword density.
Thankfully as this is also one of the oldest tactics, all major search engines such as Bing & Google have removed high keyword density and meta keywords as main ranking factors when improving search rankings. Instead this will actually penalise those pages for keyword stuffing and reduce your rankings.
BLACK-HAT Search Engine Optimisation – CONTENT
A good few years ago it was quite common for business owners to share multiple blogs each day with short content, normally pretty irrelevant, they was doing this just to add more text, pages and keywords to their sites. This was strangely rewarded then with improved rankings.
Now however, it is a different story completely, creating a load of short articles, is more likely to reduce your rankings and be seen as ‘black hat’ because it will look like spam and done just to increase rankings.
Updating content on a regular basis is still a practice worth following, it no longer makes any difference to Google if you create a post once a fortnight or 100 times each day. It comes down to quality, bounce rate and many other factors.
Duplicate copy is a black-hat SEO strategy, duplicate content is having 2 pages on your website with the exact (or most of) same text. Do not look to duplicate a blog or a normal page and then optimise them for different keywords.
This is another black hat tactic related to your sites content. This is taking content from other (normally competitor) sites and then republishing it as your own.
The reason that this is ‘black hat,’ should be obvious, firstly, it is a copyright infringement. Then because if the content is already readily available then you are adding no value to your visitors, who want content that is reflective of your business.
BLACK-HAT Search Engine Optimisation – BACKLINKS
With backlinks today being one of the most important factors for organic search engine results ranking. It should come as little surprise that backlink building is now one of the most abused SEO tactics today.
Black hats abuse the link system by taking part in what search engines refer to as ‘link schemes.’ This involves buying & selling links which pass the ‘Page Rank’ algorithm, this is considered by Google and other search engines to be ‘black hat.’
Another ‘black-hat’ tactic around backlinks is the excessive exchanging of links between sites. Some people will even create whole websites and networks of sites just for cross-linking between them all. SEO experts refer to this as PBNs or ‘Private Blog Networks.’
This link-building tactic has so far been difficult for search engine algorithms to detect, it is an area that is on their radar, so expect that they will be working towards correcting this in their next algorithm update.
BLACK-HAT Search Engine Optimisation – LOCAL SEO
Local SEO is a fantastic tool when done right for the business area that you operate in. However if you try to rank for more than 2 or 3 locations it can get you penalised and decrease from your rankings.
One example of this is when some sites duplicate their service pages that are exactly the same, except for the locations. For example:
– Web Design Liverpool
– Website Design Manchester
– Web Design Chester
– Website Design London
Some companies may create 10 – 50 service pages with the location name changed. This is not helping your SEO rankings if the content is the same on all of them.
This also goes for adding a list of locations and keywords in your webpage footer, though this doesn’t massively make any difference to your rankings.
If you are in business for the long haul and are hoping to have a sustainable, long term business. Then you should be using white hat SEO to continually grow your company online. When it comes to Google they will always be more clever than you and therefore not worth trying to deceive.
SEO is a long term process anyway which will take 4-6 months to really kick into effect, so be patient and you will see the results.