These tactics are known as "black hat SEO," and they're the number one way for a website to experience quick popularity and an eventual ban from major search engines. The approved way to rise through the rankings is through something known as "white hat SEO," which involves adhering to set practices and working with the algorithms developed by the search engines. This is the way that websites organically drive more traffic to their pages over time, guiding users toward useful and authoritative content that leverages the power of keywords and creates a nearly self-perpetuating record of success and high page rankings.
To understand more about each type of SEO, as well as the best ways to compete with other companies in a given niche, website owners should keep reading. Understanding these tactics and guidelines will produce better websites, more useful content, and better site authority that bodes well for the long-term.
Black Hat SEO: A Primer on the Internet's "Cheating" Websites
The term "black hat" has long been used to classify nefarious people, occupations, and business strategies, and that certainly applies to search engine optimization. So-called black hat SEO consists mostly of cheating to obtain high search engine rankings at places like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, through a series of practices that are either exploitative, outdated, or otherwise not approved by the algorithms that these companies use. Some of the most popular practices associated with black hat SEO tactics are:
- Content spinning or automation
- Keyword stuffing
- Hidden content and keywords
- Exploitative redirects
- Reporting the competition for de-listing
- Link farms or link exploits
- Duplicate content across multiple domains or subdomains
Some of these practices were once considered acceptable in the eyes of major search engine websites, but they quickly became associated with scam websites, keyword spam, and useless content that actually deducted value from the typical search. That's why, over the course of the past several years, search engine companies have slowly classified all of these practices as unacceptable. While they will still lead to a quick increase in a page's search engine rank, the use of these tactics can now easily be detected by search engines. They are grounds for an immediate, and permanent, ban from the search engine's results. That's really bad news: When a company cannot be found it cannot be expected to succeed at all, even if it amends its ways.
For this reason, the emphasis in today's traffic-building world of SEO is on white hat tactics. These tactics are more organic, add value to search results, and position companies as an authoritative source of information within their chosen niche. Instead of relying on nefarious keyword stuffing, article spinning, or hidden content, these tactics are transparent and beneficial to all sides of the equation.
White Hat SEO: A Look at the Most Common Methods of Long-Lasting Optimization
While black hat SEO offers quick jumps in page rankings based on excessive keywords, duplicate content, or automated articles, white hat SEO focuses first and foremost on driving up the value of a given website to its readers. This value is then communicated to search engines like Google, where it is valued and rewarded with increasingly high rankings that are more durable, more permissible, and designed to stand the test of time even in a crowded marketplace. For those who aren't familiar with white hat SEO, or those looking to learn more about how it's implemented, there are a few key pillars of this approach that all of the best websites use consistently.
High Quality Articles that Add Value and Draw Users
Google and other major search engines are looking to guide customers not necessarily toward the most relevant keyword, but toward the search result that adds the most value to that keyword. To that end, all of the major search providers have developed complex algorithms that can sense things like quality content, innovative products, and value-added services that improve the way visitors conduct their daily lives.
To that end, websites looking to increase traffic need to focus on articles, products, and services that provide real value to their customers. Articles can be helpful how-to pieces, opinion pieces, news summaries, or any number of other genuine pieces of unique content. Keywords are permitted within this content, though they are often more powerful at low densities instead of being "stuffed" into the article excessively.
Optimized Pages with Great Navigation and Fast Load Times
No one likes to wait around for a website to load, and that's also true of search engine spiders. Fast websites are considered more reliable, since they're likely to be hosted at a major company, maintained more frequently, and be free of malicious scripts or slow-loading exploits. Furthermore, search engines are smart enough to see whether or not the site has a consistent, usable navigation scheme on the website that promotes easy clicks to other informative sections of the site's content, products, or services.
Long Tail Keywords that Narrow Down a Niche
White hat SEO practices are designed to attract customers to a site that adds real value to their lives and promotes them to make a meaningful engagement with the content. One of the best ways to ensure this happens is to use so-called "long tail" keywords instead of broader terms. Long tail keywords earn their name simply by being quite long, and more specific, than the typical keyword used by the majority of websites. A good example would be a bakery that sells a variety of different pies. Instead of using a keyword like "pie" or "key lime pie," the company would use a keyword like "key lime pie independent bakery" or "pies for sale in south Philadelphia."
Lots of people are looking for pie, of course, but very few people are looking for an independent bakery's key lime pie. Even fewer are looking for pie specifically in South Philadelphia. These keywords are designed to be used by interested customers more likely to take action. Because they're used by fewer websites, they also eliminate a great deal of the competition that a company simply targeting "pie" would have to face. This white hat tactic ensures better rankings, narrower customer targets, and both higher customer conversions and more repeat customers than a broader term would allow.
Keyword-Rich Meta Tags for Easy Search Engine Identification
Finally, a great deal of focus is placed on meta tags when adhering to the white hat practices of search engine optimization. While meta tags no longer carry the significant amount of weight with major search providers that they did even a half-decade ago, they're still a great way to slightly raise the website's profile and give search engine spiders a preview of the site's content. Meta tags of most use to website owners include things like website keywords, the website's description, its author, language, location, and more.
Each of these meta tags ensures that search engines know right away how to classify a site, where it lies geographically, and how that information helps it guide users toward the content that lies beyond the brief website summary of a search result. While a meta tag can't single-handedly get a website listed on Google's first page of search results, it can certainly be the difference between ranking fourth or a fifth, and ranking first or second for the same keyword-targeted search result.
Tools of the Trade: Embracing White Hat SEO with a Little Help
Want to know exactly how a website is performing before making adjustments? SEO Site Checkup will look at any current website and investigate its use of white hat SEO best practices. After a few minutes of in-depth analysis, this tool reports the server technology, page size and compression recommendations, page caching, backlinks, meta tags, keywords, and more. If any of these metrics is subpar, the tool will recommend actions that can optimize the site further and place it higher in major search engine results.
The great thing about SEO Unity is that it isn't just a single site optimization tool. Instead, SEO Unity has more than 100 site-checking tools for better keyword use, meta tag implementation, page design, compression use, and more. Perhaps best of all, the more than 100 SEO optimization tools found at SEO Unity are entirely free for general use. It's a great way to get a jumpstart on higher page rankings and white hat SEO Best practices.
WooRank is one of the most popular site checkup and optimization tools, offering a way to see how the site's keywords are performing, how it ranks at major search engines, and how social media is either helping or hurting the site's overall performance. Used by both individuals and business owners, WooRank is a great place to start with serious search engine optimization and a firm embrace of white hat techniques.
Increasing Website Traffic is Easy with a White Hat Blueprint for Success
White hat SEO is easily the best way to get a website not only on Google's first page, but also in its top spot among all competing websites. With quality content, long tail keyword, optimized meta tags, a fast website, and a consistent navigation, these efforts prove durable and effective for both short-term gains and long-term ranking consistency.