White Hat SEO: What It Is And Why It Is Important
White Hat SEO is a term that marketing people use a lot. But what does it actually mean? Search engines often have many rules that they expect companies to play by. Basically, White Hat SEO means following the rules and not using spammy techniques.
What Is White Hat SEO?
White Hat SEO is about following search engine rules while putting your audience first. Most search engines want to see a variety of things, such as:
- High-quality content that answers searches in a helpful way
- Links from outside sources, as they validate your authority
- Easy-to-navigate websites
- Mobile-first websites
Check up on Google’s rules, regularly as algorithm changes happen often. As long as you are following White Hat SEO practices, the changes will have little or no effect on your ranking.
Why is White Hat SEO Important?
If you don’t play by the rules, you get banned from the playground. It might be tempting to use Black Hat SEO to get to the top of results faster, but you run the risk of bans and blacklisting.
White Hat SEO is vital as Google wants to see helpful, good quality websites at the top of its search results. After all, Google has a reputation to uphold, as do all other search engines. If a user continually sees spammy results, they will stop using that search engine.
Another benefit for White Hat SEO is it puts humans first. Humans are the ones who will be giving you money so you should always build for them. Optimising with humans in mind also helps your conversion rates.
What Are Examples of White Hat SEO?
Now you know what White Hat SEO is, you need to know how to implement the techniques. You can implement more of these strategies today. Others will take time, patience and a lot of work to pull off. However, every hour of work will reap the benefits along the line.
1. Making your site easy to navigate.
Make it easy for your audience to get around. A clear navigation bar on the top of the page is the first check. Are is your wording easy to read? Does a new visitor know where to go?
Check your internal links too. If a page references something that needs further explaining, you could link it to a blog post which goes into more depth.
Keep your website page designs consistent. Use the same navigation bar throughout the website. Use the same button shapes throughout your website, so audience members know where to click. Adhere to UX design rules – They will make your life easier.
2. Speed up your website by optimising your images
Images are a common cause of a slow website. If you’re using WordPress, use an image compression plugin like Resmush.it or Imagify. If you’re not, use an online image compressor to resize the images. Make sure you upload images that are the correct width and height for the page. While you can resize the pictures through code or your CMS, you’re uploading unnecessary data which a browser needs to load.
3. Make your content shareable
Adding infographics, downloadable content and other factors will help make your content shareable. Shareable content helps to gain links naturally.
Make your content something people want to share with their users. It could be a funny ways people use your products or a helpful tutorial that will blow people’s minds. Useful content gets shared to other websites by users, meaning natural backlinks.
4. Utilise social media to it’s fullest
Google doesn’t use social media as a ranking factor. But it can still boost SEO.
Add Social share buttons to your content that count the number of shares. It makes it easy for audience members to share your posts. More social shares mean more traffic. Traffic helps SEO.
Also, social media pages can rank well in their own right. Individual Pinterest boards often rank well in search results, especially for more visual industries (stationery, art, fashion, design). Some Instagram, Twitter and Reddit results rank in Google occasionally as well. Using these resources will help your SEO.
5. Link out to (helpful) authority sites
Many years ago, Google released a small update called Hilltop. The update aims to boost sites which linked out to useful resources. By linking out, it shows Google that you value your customers enough to inform them further.
Try to link to at least two outbound sites in every blog article you publish, but only if it works in context. Linking out to a random page with no relevance isn’t going to help, and can be seen as spammy.
6. Create longer content
Search engines want you to be helpful. To do that, they want content that covers as much as possible. Creating content with between 1800 and 2100 words seems to be the sweet spot for high ranking content pieces.
Creating Ultimate guides to a subject or complete tutorials for your products will help you create extended content.
Does that mean every piece you write needs to be around those wordcounts? No. The worst thing you can do in a content piece is ramble. If you find yourself rambling to hit the word count, it’s time to stop.
However, research shows that content between 500 and 800 words seem to rank the worst. Google deems these too short to go into detail, but too long for a quick read.
7. Make sure your website works perfectly on mobile
Mobile web browsing is on the rise. Google knows this and is starting to clamp down on companies with poorly performing mobile websites. Luckily the Google Search console has a great “Mobile Usability Report” that covers some of the problems.
The problems you will need to resolve are:
- Usability – big buttons, easy to click links, etc
- Loading speed
- Get rid of intrusive ads or popups
- Ensure website is responsive and folds down neatly
8. Disavowing dodgy links
If you’ve been in business for a long time, there is a chance you may have bought links from link farms of varying quality.
About 15 years ago, it was common for websites to have “link pages” where you could charge money in exchange for a link. It was also common to pay for link farms to boost your SEO. Google got wise to these techniques and began to penalise these tactics – moving them firmly into Black Hat territory.
However, if you’ve got a few dodgy links (or perhaps a competitor is launching a negative SEO campaign against you), then you can disavow them.
Now a word of warning – Only disavow links you know for a fact are causing you problems. If you disavow a helpful link, it’s tough to get that link back again. If you aren’t sure, we recommend contacting the site owner and asking for a “nofollow” link.
9. “Nofollow” any paid promotions or partnerships
Outreaching to bloggers to get links? Perhaps you’re paying to put content on someone else’s website? While these are fantastic for building brand awareness, Google doesn’t like them for SEO tactics.
Search Engines use links to build authority. If a website links to another, it shows trust from that website. Search engines use these links as signals that a website provides great content that users should be following. If you’re paying for the links, there’s no real trust there, except an exchange of money or goods.
You need to ask the blogger to add rel=”nofollow” into your link code. This stops the link from acting as a “credit”” for search. Google’s crawlers will look at the disclaimer (which you need to have by law) to determine whether the content is paid or not. If it is, and there’s no “nofollow” tag, they will see it as link buying.
It also counts for giving away free products in exchange for a review. However, if a blogger loves your product and writes about it anyway, you’re safe.
10. Lots of content
Creating lots of content that targets long-tail keywords will ultimately help your SEO. Aim for keywords that fix a specific problem related to your audience, but has low competition.
Strong keyword research strategies will help you create content that is valuable. Valuable content pleases the Search Engine gods, so it’s worth the working hours involved.
You want to be posting at least once a week but aim for more if you have the resources. Remember, a blog post doesn’t only help your SEO. The more content a lead read, the more likely they are to convert to a sale. Content also helps your social media pages grow too.
White Hat SEO is essential for your website as it helps you gain ranks without breaking any rules. While Black Hat SEO is tempting, Search engines can penalise you at any moment. It’s much better to stick to White hat techniques. SEO has always been a slow gain for significant results, but patience is a virtue. Keep working at it, and you will reap the rewards eventually.
If you need help, Your Marketing Guy is a strict believer in White Hat SEO techniques. We would be happy to help in any way we can.