August 26, 2013
Choosing to play by the rules when less honest tactics can often produce better results is never an easy decision to stick to. In no arena is that more prevalent than the game of white hat versus black hat SEO.
White hat, or non-automated methodologies, embrace the criteria that giants like Google have set forth to attain high rankings. These involve link building with integrity, sites that should be very user-friendly and informative, and other quality content choices that, theoretically, should make the search engines take notice.
Black hat SEO, on the other hand, involves sneaky practices that aim to trick search engines into thinking the rules are followed. It’s endlessly frustrating for businesses working their tails off at creating quality content within the rule set to find competitors who break the rules ranking higher on selected keywords.
We all know the story about the turtle winning the race. Consider white hat practices the choice to play the role of the turtle. You may not reach the top as fast as your black hat counterparts, but you will, ultimately, win the race. And here are some current top tips that let you play fair and get that much closer to the finish line.
The Big List of Don’ts
Before delving into professional guidance on what to do with your white hat SEO strategies, let’s cover some critical no-no’s in this space. These don’t list the obvious, like keyword stuffing or fake link building; they go deeper into some fundamental mistakes that even advanced SEO practitioners frequently make.
1) Adhering to quantity over quality – This is talked about extensively, so it should be obvious, but since the web is still inundated with horrendously mundane material, it’s clear marketers still aren’t getting it. If you produce 10 short and barely valuable pieces of content each week, shave that in half. Create 5 pieces with more depth and information. This will help your efforts far more than endless fluff.
2) Keeping content generic – Many brands continue to be fearful of infusing personality and spirit into their sites and content. Branch out – be brave enough to have a voice, to create a persona, and you’ll likely see your traffic and rankings respond. Look at sites like ‘Upworthy’ (http://www.upworthy.com) – the single fastest growing media site on today’s web. They ooze personality and pizzazz, and the masses are responding. Don’t try to be all things to all people – be who you really are.
3) Failing to provide value – A lot of content marketing these days continues to be blatant attempts at companies to sell their goods and services. While this is obviously the goal of any marketing campaign, the more overt you are about this mission in your materials, the more you are likely to lose rankings and traffic. Readers want information and value first and foremost. If you teach them about something they didn’t already know, then tie it very subtly into your business, you could very well gain a loyal customer. Begging, pleading, and using hard sell – likely not.
4) Attempting to trick search engines – Never ever treat your SEO strategies as a way to trump the intelligence of the algorithms. Your SEO efforts should be focused on providing quality content and services to readers who are looking for good content and companies with integrity. Sound obvious? It is, but again, look at the volume of companies attempting just the opposite. Don’t give in to temptation!
The White Hat SEO Test
Every time you publish a piece of marketing content, ask yourself the following questions to ensure you’re on a bright white path to SEO greatness:
1) Is this content unique? Am I saying something original, or providing insight on a topic in a way that hasn’t been said before?
2) Would I be proud to put my personal name on this piece, and not just that of the company I represent? Would I show this to friends and family with pride?
3) Will this content incite conversation in those who read it? Will they be motivated to comment and share?
4) Have I cared enough about this piece to proofread it and perfect grammar, spelling, and sentence structure?
If you answer no to any of these questions, your content is not ready for primetime. The internet doesn’t need another poorly written, under-researched, overtly sell-happy piece of content. To stand out, you truly have to be dedicated to quality.
Other Current White Hat Professional SEO Tips
Beyond the tricks of the content trade, there are other advanced white hat practices that you could certainly benefit from.
1) Spread out your SEO campaigns across multiple domain names and IPs – Using C-Class IP hosting, you can boost your SEO efforts significantly. Hosting for the purpose of SEO is actually vastly different than the traditional hosting model, since a C-Class IP gives you the ability to diversify your marketing campaigns across multiple IPs. This is also the ideal hosting solution if you’re looking to create links between your multiple websites, and enjoy higher rankings as a result. Research SEO Web Hosting tactics and see if these might be ideal for your business.
2) Focus on conversions first and foremost – Many SEO campaigns focus too heavily on generating traffic, and not enough on how to convert those customers once they land in droves. Make your first priority your website. Obviously it needs to be full of quality content, but just as crucial, study the pathways to conversion your customers are taking, and be meticulous about ensuring your conversion rates are as high as they can possibly be. Otherwise, your SEO tactics are completely in vain.
3) Be selective about link building – Just like content, link building is not a “more is more” area. Building high quality back links is essential to any SEO strategy, but don’t let just anyone link to you. Their reputation with the search engines is just as important as yours. Plus, you’ll want to diversify your categories and ensure you’ve amassed plenty of top PR and media site links. Give special prominence to those in your industry that have a high author rank as well.
What white hat SEO tips have you found to be the most useful? Likewise, what hasn’t worked in the past for you?
Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.