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White Hat Techniques in SEO
“White hat SEO” is using search engine optimization techniques to improve the human experience on the websites. In return, the good human experience on a website rewarded by the search engines with a good SERP(Search Engine Results Page) position.
SEO is both a science and an art. It takes time, hard work, creativity, and experience with a lot of persistence to get results. But the result of a successful SEO campaign is very rewarding. We should be aiming to use only legitimate SEO strategies to succeed in the long run.
The white hat SEO techniques are those in agreement with the search engine guidelines and policies.
The goal of a search engine is to serve the most relevant information to the users. To accomplish this goal, search engines run a set of algorithms to assign a position for each webpage in SERP.
Since the early ages of search engines, many people have been trying to cheat the algorithms. Not depending on which search engine we are talking about, these actions are strictly against the rules and guidelines. Once it is discovered, it usually results in a penalty for the website tries to cheat the algorithm.
The goal of white hat SEO is using optimization strategies and techniques to improve the overall quality of a website. Websites using white hat SEO techniques focus on optimizing for human experience rather than optimizing for the search engines.
If you have high-quality content presented with great user experience, organics rankings will come by itself naturally.
Definitely search engine algorithms are not perfect. They have their own flaws. Trying to take advantage of a search engine algorithm deficiency may only bring short term success.
Search engine companies are spending billions of dollars every year to patch the problems in their algorithms.
What are the most effective long-term white hat SEO practices?
Here are some of the most effective white hat SEO techniques that are %100 safe to use.
Offering high quality, uniquely valuable content
Create only original content that is relevant to your target audience. This is by far the most effective way to improve our overall SEO score.
At all times, we want to publish high-quality content that is uniquely valuable. Content that passes Copyscape is not unique enough. It should provide unique ideas and approaches that are not available on the web yet.
You can use my tips to improve your content marketing to the next level.
If you are not skilled in writing or simply you don’t like it, you can outsource content from Fiverr. You have to be careful though since outsourced content usually low in quality unless you don’t set your requirements in advance.
You can also work with a higher-end content solution like Content development pros to outsource your content.
By doing so, we can generate a constant flow of organic search traffic from the search engines to our site. This will also create our brand, and help us to build our name as an authority in our niche.
We want to make our website easy to navigate both for the search engines and the users. Site mapping and organization are highly important qualities we should aim to have a more functional, and user-friendly website.
Search engine bots should be able to crawl our internal pages or recently published pages by following the internal linking structure of our website.
Organizing our website to be “easy-to-navigate” is also very important to improve user experience. We want to organize our content by using headers, subheaders, bulleted lists to make it more skimmable for the reader.
It is also beneficial to use high-priority keywords in our content to make our site easier to be shown in search results.
Using Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords in our content
Including LSI keywords to our content is a wonderful way to boost our SEO rankings. These words are synonyms of the words we use in our content. Take “apple” for instance.
By typing that keyword, you’re likely to get search results and suggestions related to the mac and iPhone. LSI keywords help search engines what about our website content is.
We should be careful not to do any keyword stuffing. We want our keywords to be used in our content naturally with a context.
Improving site speed
We want to provide the smoothest user experience possible for our visitors. The bread and butter of good user experience is a fast site that loads fast both on mobile and desktop devices. Here are things to do to increase your site speed immediately.
Using multimedia to improve user experience
Using the optimum amount of engaging multimedia (photos, videos audio podcasts) increases user experience (UX). As a result, the time spent on our website prolongs. Time spent on site is a primary Google ranking factor that we should definitely strategize our SEO accordingly.
Using descriptive meta titles and URL slugs.
The meta title is a very important part of any SEO campaign. It needs to be optimized with our keywords. We should be using descriptive meta titles that are interesting for the people. In this way, we make our website like a magnet that entices people to click our website.
A slug is the component of a URL describes the content of the page. It is a good practice to include target keywords in the slug.
Get Rid Of Zombie Pages
Zombie pages are those which provide no value for the website visitors. These pages have usually low-quality or duplicate content or very old press releases.
Zombie pages can lower your overall SEO if they are too many on your website.
Publish Longer Content
If there is one white hat SEO technique that works very well is publishing a longer piece of content. Search engines like in-depth, well-researched content over shorter content.
People tend to engage more with the longer form of content if is structured properly. Needless to say, longer content includes more aspects of the subject, and more detailed in its nature.
Use Rich Snippets
Rich snippets are the direct answers Google suggests to us in SERP. Rich Snippets will generate more clicks since the number of rich snippets shown in search results is doubled in recent years. Structured Data Mark-up which lets webmasters improve their SERP status will definitely be more important in the future.
Use AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
Having AMP websites provides faster loading on all mobile devices. Google prioritizes those sites to list in search results. Accelerated Mobile Pages are fully supported in Google Search console. With the mobile-first index update, mobile device SEO optimization will grow at a much faster rate.
Google Not Only Penalizes Websites
Once a violation detected, Google usually penalizes a series of IP addresses hosted on the same server. That is why I strongly recommend having your own IP with your Webhosting.
I also believe that Google penalizes the domain owner which violates its terms of services by placing him/her on a blacklist. I don’t have a tangible proof for this claim. There are hints that Google gives us penalizing people if they are obviously against the rules.
But, what makes me think so? Let me explain what it is.
If you are using Google Adwords and violating their advertising policy your advertising account gets suspended.
Do you really think the only thing suspended is the advertising account?
Of course no! They usually send an email explaining all other accounts in a relationship this specific account is also suspended.
Ok, you can go ahead and create another Gmail account to start advertising on Adwords again.
Unfortunately, this is not possible to do. In the email they send, they warn people not to create additional Gmail accounts since they will be banned as well.
Hence, they don’t penalize accounts or websites, but rather people who are doing the things Google doesn’t like.
People used black hat techniques and left quite enough footprints for Google to find out may be in Google’s blacklist as well.
I advise everyone not risking his/her reputation with a lifetime ban by Google. There is almost no way to remove a name from Google’s blacklist, once it is labeled as a spammer or black hat guy.
Also, why to risk while there are legitimate ways of doing SEO without worrying if the next Google algorithmic update will tank your traffic.
I recommend everyone checking out Google’s Webmaster resources to educate themselves about Google white hat SEO practices.
Anytime you ask someone to link your website it is already a gray hat technique. Many people outreach other blog owners for a backlink in exchange for providing content or paying for it. These actions are against Google’s term of services.
Types Of Google Penalties May Hit Websites
- Private blog network
- Unnatural links to and from your site
- Unnatural outbound link penalty
- Algorithm link spam penalty
- Low-quality link penalty
- Manual link spam penalty
- Excessive reciprocal linking
Should You Implement White Hat SEO Methods?
Absolutely yes! Not using black hat techniques does not mean doing anything. If you are just writing good content without any optimization, it will not take you too far in SEO.
You may be thinking your site is safe because Google doesn’t know you paid for that guest post link that points to your website.
Websites that sell guest post links tend to sell everyone. If Google’s algorithm thinks there is something wrong with your website, a manual reviewer will take action on it.
Google has estimated thousands of manual reviewers around the world evaluating websites every day.
It is so easy to look at a backlink and to tell if it is organically built or paid. If you are targeting to have a website that is profitable in the long run, don’t buy links. It really doesn’t worth anything.
Link Building Outreach
Don’t outreach other blog owners and beg for links. If they report your email request to buy links to Google, you are in trouble.
Instead, let me show you how you could build white hat backlinks. Backlinks that will cause no issues with any Google algorithm update.
Here is the secret, write a piece of content that is obviously better than any other content on the topic. Your content is unique and bringing ideas that are not discussed anywhere else before. It has good use of language, high-quality multimedia, and structured very well for the best user experience.
Yes, write the type of content that deserves to sit on the first page of Google. Obviously, it requires time, good research, effort, and money to create great content. However, good content is to be here for years. But, mediocre content is to outranked by the competitor shortly.
“The best is the enemy of the good.” Voltaire
When you have good content, you will have backlinks inevitably. People like to link to authority content. This is the only long term plan I would like to honor.
What Are The White Hat SEO Tools?
The auto-suggestion feature of Google search is great to find long-tail keywords. I also like checking out what other related searches are available at the bottom of the search page.
A simple Google search can tell us how competitive a keyword it is.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is the absolute must-have without any substitute. It provides very useful information such as keyword ideas, keyword search volumes, PPC bidding estimates, and level of competition for keywords.
Google Trends is another great tool to find out seasonal trends or what is popular nowadays. It can help us target what is growing and strategizing our plans accordingly.
SimilarWeb is a great website that provides web analytics information. This information includes but not limited to the amounts and type of web traffic, competitor analysis, keyword research, and other optimization ideas you can implement to your website.
Alexa is similar to SimilarWeb that estimates traffic based on data and used by millions of internet users around the world.
It helps us optimizing On-page SEO by providing a report in categories of relevance, SERP appearance, visitor experience(UX) and the target keyword.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog is an SEO tool that helps us analyzing on-page SEO issues on a website. It crawls the entire website page by page to provide a reliable site audit for us. As a result, we can obtain the information about crawl level, internal and outbound link issues, broken pages if any exist, keywords, HTTP status codes, meta titles, meta descriptions. It is free for if you have a website that has less than 500 pages.
Ubersuggest is a great free tool purchased by Neil Patel in 2017. It provides free keyword ideas, monthly search volumes, and PPC bidding estimations. It is a very valuable instrument that provides great insight into keyword research.
Kwfinder is a great keyword research tool that should be in the arsenal of every blogger. It is a cheaper alternative for Ahrefs and SEMRush. It makes keyword research very easy. Every feature of this tool is very newbie-friendly without being very technical. It will definitely help you finding those long-tail keywords with a high search volume.
You can also benefit from SEO Rank trackers to spot where exactly your website is ranking for your target keywords.
Remember, SEO takes time and patience. Unfortunately, there are not many shortcuts or cookie-cutter strategies that can help you to achieve sustainable success quickly. If you use black hat strategies and techniques you risk your website to get penalized by Google. A lot of times the consequences of these actions are not reversible.
I would recommend everyone reading Google-approved SEO strategies at Webmaster Guidelines.
Finally, if you have long-term plans with your website utilizing white hat SEO techniques is your best choice. Although it may not provide quickly visible results, you will reap the rewards in the long run.