Google favours useful, user friendly websites. Here, we explain what white hat SEO is and how it will sustainably boost your rankings more than black hat SEO methods ever will.
What is White Hat SEO?
The opposite of black hat SEO, white hat SEO is the use of optimisation methods that improve your search ranking whilst following search engine guidelines. White hat SEO is also called ethical SEO as it maintains a site’s integrity, producing valuable content and improving human user experience. White hat methods are used by webmasters making a long-term investment in their site, with these techniques taking a while to hone but leading to maintained, sustainable success within search engine rankings.
Common examples of white hat SEO
Here we’ll go through the most frequently used methods of white hat SEO which are guaranteed to improve the value of any site.
Quality content and services
This might seem obvious, but sites that provide users with valuable content will attract more visitors. Consider the needs of your users and meet them, provide unique and useful content that has your own tone, assess and evaluate ways you could improve your site for users through individually reviewing pages and comparing against competitor sites. Establish how other sites are stronger and where you can improve. No website will climb to the top of the ranks with content that is not engaging or useful to anyone. After all, your visitors are humans, not bots. Google’s algorithms favour original and informative content, serving up the sites it believes to be the most relevant and helpful for a particular search a user makes.
Descriptive, keyword rich titles and meta data
Giving pages relevant titles and meta data is vital, with these two elements indicating what a page is all about. Google looks at titles and meta data to get an idea of a page’s content, so it’s important that they describe this as accurately and clearly as possible.
Effective keyword research and use
Carry out in depth research of keywords and phrases that people might be searching for and which are relevant to your site. Try and target long-tail keywords instead of single words. Long-tail keywords are less competitive and more specific to your pages, meaning that you’ll be targeting users that are more likely to be looking for your exact content. Be sure to integrate keywords naturally into text instead of clunkily inserting them over and over where you can. This will result in lower quality content which users won’t want to read. Aim to assign a page 2 or 3 keywords and try to use these words throughout the most important elements of the page: title, meta tags, headers, text and links. Titles and meta tags are top of the list, so try and use your keywords here where possible.
A good site considers the needs of its users, and navigation is an essential part of this. Aside from your actual site design, creating a site map can help users find what they need efficiently. A site map offers a more succinct view of a site, listing important pages within it to allow visitors to find specific pages faster. A decent site map should have text only links and doesn’t always need to refer to every page on your site.
Quality link building
Links are a key aspect of how Google ranks pages, with links back to your site acting as a vote of confidence for your site’s content. These links need come from credible and relevant sources, so the black hat SEO practise of paid links is not an effective way of link building. Instead, try and get deservedly earned links that are actually relevant to your site and paint an accurate picture of what your site is about. One of the best ways of earning links is to build a resource page which offers valuable content that sites will want to link to. In addition to gaining you links, a resource page will boost your site’s authority.
Mobile friendly pages
With mobile use on the rise, ensuring your site is mobile friendly for your users is increasingly important. Google announced that after January 10, 2017 “pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly”. Therefore, if you don’t optimise your pages for mobile use, you could see a drop in your rankings. To ensure your site is mobile friendly, log in to the Google Search Console to view your Mobile Usability Report and make revisions accordingly.
Should I use white hat SEO?
The obvious answer is yes. But why should you choose white hat over black hat? Whilst black hat SEO and grey hat SEO may see you enjoy short term success, content that is produced in line with white hat SEO is enduring, will boost your site’s ranking in the long term and means you don’t have to worry about Google banning you.
It’s fine to optimise content for search engines. This is ultimately the basis and purpose of SEO. However, it’s essential that you don’t lose sight of the human visitors coming to your site. A search engine won’t rank you well if you aren’t producing valuable content for human visitors, and it’s vital that you remember this when implementing SEO tactics on your site.