There are no two opinions about the importance of search engine optimization. Without quality SEO, your site would not be able to attract the kind of traffic you need in order to be successful. However, not everyone knows what to do when it comes to optimizing their sites for search engine results.
Broadly defined, there are two kinds of SEO practices that you can use to boost the popularity of your website.
- White Hat SEO
- Black Hat SEO
Most SEO experts agree that using black hat SEO methods and techniques, might bring you short-term results, but they are not sustainable in the long term. Conversely, using white hat techniques can set you up for a solid and successful future.
This is why it is absolutely imperative to learn the difference between white hat SEO and black hat SEO. This way, you will be able to use the former to achieve your long-term SEO goals. Yes, many SEO specialists consider black and white SEO to be the go-to choice for people from two different schools of thought but that is not correct at all. They are not equal categorizations in their own right; in fact, they are simply a right and a wrong way of doing things.
Google and White Hat SEO
Google is the world’s most popular search engine and it conducts billions of searches day in and day out. White hat SEO is concerned with conducting your search engine optimization just the way that Google wants you to do it. Sometimes, Google comes up with periodic updates for the express purpose of weeding out Black Hat SEO techniques. If you follow Google’s webmaster guidelines and create a comprehensive and long-term game plan, rest assured that your website will not be penalized for just about any Google update.
What is White Hat SEO All About?
Let us take a close look at the concept of white hat SEO. In a nutshell, this term refers to the ethical and correct way to optimize a website.
This is a bird’s eye view of the practice and in order to understand it further, you will need to gain a clear understanding of the criteria required to make it work. Some of the main strategies of white hat SEO include the following:
It Must Always Follow Search Engine Guidelines
For most experienced SEO specialists, the broadest definition of white hat SEO is that it should follow Google’s webmaster guidelines i.e. it should follow the rules that the search engine has formulated to define the correct method to optimize a website.
The main point regarding ethical SEO practice and strategy is that it can easily be summed up with one basic idea: Don’t try to be manipulative at all.
In other words, you should not attempt to manipulate the rankings or try to deceive Google’s algorithm in any other way. If you consistently follow these guidelines, you will be able to use white hat SEO for long term again.
It Should Try and Focus on the Human Audience
You have to understand what Google stands for and how to use it to your advantage. Basically, the search engine’s topmost priority is to provide their user base with the most focused and correct results. This is the part where white hat SEO comes into the picture since it is involved with making relevant changes that are of use to a website’s visitors. The more the value addition, the more correct and ethical would your SEO practices appear to both Google and your visitors. Such value addition is an absolutely essential component of white hat SEO.
Some of the important white hat techniques involve taking the requisite steps to improve the overall experience that the site will be able to provide to its visitors.
For example, you should try publishing very high-quality content and, at the same time, act to improve the web page’s load times as well. This will increase the value that users will be able to derive from your site. And if they are able to navigate the site with ease, they will keep coming back for more and Google will increase your rankings.
White Hat Takes a Really Long-Term Approach
Many strategies that follow Google’s helpful guidelines aim to create a positive user experience. However, they are more time consuming and work-intensive than their black hat SEO counterpart methods. This means that it takes a lot of time before you will be in a position to see the desired results.
But there is a flip side to it as well. After all, white hat SEO has a really long-lasting impact. Think of it this way: When you use strategies and techniques that are designed to improve your overall website experience for the visitor, you will be able to increase your Google ranking status as well.
This is because it involves investing in very high-quality content that will generate results for a long time. Once you start using the kind of tactics that don’t put you at any kind of risk from Google, you will be able to reap long-term gains. This is what a white hat SEO approach is all about.
The Creation of High-Quality Content for Your Target Market
Creating high-quality content is the single most important task that that you should focus on when it comes to white hat SEO techniques. It is very simple, really. It does not matter how aggressively you pursue your SEO targets: If you don’t have the kind of content that your visitors eagerly want to consume and share, you won’t be able to make it to the top rankings of the search engine
This basic premise is the cornerstone of the whole concept of ethical and correct SEO. In an ideal world, you will be able to create the kind of content that the reader finds absolutely amazing. Your content will easily adhere to all of the search engine’s basic guidelines. The result is that your target audience will read and consume it multiple times. This is the essence of white hat SEO.
Here, it is important to point out that if you fail to create great content, and if your work is not optimized for the search engines, you won’t be able to use white hat SEO techniques.
User experience also falls into this category. If your copy is hard to read it will have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. For example, if your website is about smartphones but it is not formatted and optimized for usage on a mobile platform, it will fail to create that amazing user experience. Moreover, if it takes a long time to download and is also hard to read, it will be considered to be very low quality content. This will, in turn, lower your chances of making it to the Holy Grail of search engine results (the top ten results on Google’s home page).
Keywords are all well and good, as long as you don’t stuff your articles with them. The best thing to do is to conduct your own research and see which keywords fit the bill. This way, your users will come to your site courtesy your keywords and stay there because of your content. Ideal keyword density can also lead to a substantial reduction in bounce rates. If the site does not offer meaningful information, it will lead to the visitor leaving your site within seconds. In SEO parlance, this is known as the bounce rate. Google hates a high bounce rate because its algorithm can detect which sites engage the user and which ones don’t make the grade.
One good way of finding the best keywords and phrases is to ask questions regarding your products. You can answer them in the form of keywords that your customers might use as queries. Furthermore, you can also use keyword generation tools and plugins for this purpose. They will give you an idea about the kind of information that people are searching for with regard to your product or topic. Using these tools together with your own research will definitely give you some great results.
Help Google to Find Your Website
Great content is the best way to keep your readers and viewers interested. Unfortunately, Google is neither one of the above. On the contrary, it uses its web crawlers to read and identify code. It is not capable of observing and reading as we do, and it cannot rank something that is invisible to it. If your SEO is not optimized for both the engine and the readers, Google will have problems identifying it.
Proper internal linking on your website can easily take care of this issue. You can do the job by ensuring that important pages are available on the index and they are also seamlessly linked from one page to another. Not only will it make life easier for your target audience, but Google will also understand just which pages really important and which ones can be safely discarded. It is also very important to periodically check your website stats to make sure that you are not facing any new issues.
Black Hat SEO: Don’t Ever Try to Trick Google
The above techniques were all about ethical and correct SEO of the kind that Google loves and appreciates. Google is also pretty clear about techniques that you should not try under any circumstances.
Basically, Google has certain rules and black hat SEO is centered on breaking all of these rules. Sure black hat SEO will appear to work at least initially, but appearances can be deceptive and using it is an extremely short-term strategy. You can fool Google once or twice, but the engine updates itself very regularly. It will eventually see what you are doing and take steps to ensure that your site pays for it. Let us take a quick look at some of the more common black hat SEO techniques that will almost certainly get you blacklisted.
The Hidden Text Trick
We all know that keywords help in increasing rankings. Someone came up with the idea that they will use the same keywords by making the text to match the background of the site. Visitors won’t be able to not see the text since it melts into the background. But Google will detect it and increase the rankings accordingly. However, now Google’s advanced algorithms can see through it and they will downgrade the ranking of the site.
Google Hates Plagiarism
You simply copy paste a top-ranking article under the assumption that yours will take its place. It doesn’t work that way. Google is smart enough to flag your site as duplicate content and remove it from its listings, which is why unique content is the only way to make it to the top.
Automatic Article Spinning
Spinning is the automatic change of words of an article to create your own content that doesn’t appear to be plagiarized. Some software programs are actually pretty good at it too. Many people took advantage of such articles to create unique content that they were able to rank in the top ten searches of the engine. However, people could see through it and realized that it did not add value. This led to very high bounce rates that Google was able to trace and took appropriate steps to downgrade the site.
Link farms are a network of circular links that all link to each other. Google believes that incoming and outgoing links make your site interesting to others and boosts the presence of such well-linked sites on its front page. But now it has become smarter and its latest algorithms can easily figure out a circular link farm and differentiate it from the real thing. Moreover, the user can become frustrated jumping from link to link to look for the right content. This is why Google won’t hesitate to downgrade the site that uses such circular links to boost its SEO activities.
In light of the above, we can easily see that white hat SEO strategy is always far superior to its black hat SEO counterpart techniques and methods. Using the former can be difficult, but it is absolutely essential for the long term growth of your site.