Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the strategy of optimizing the onsite and offsite components of a website to help it rank higher in search engine searches, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. It seems simple enough, and on the surface, it is. However, many factors go into SEO that requires specialized knowledge and understanding of how the search engine algorithms work, which results in both white hat SEO techniques and black hat SEO techniques.
What’s the Difference?
White hat SEO techniques, as the name indicates, are good. Thanks to a well-planned and researched strategy, they will improve your rankings and bring in more organic traffic. Black hat SEO techniques, as you can guess, are bad. They might get you the same results for a time, but you’ll always get caught. And there will be negative consequences for your website. So, when you’re looking to work with an SEO agency, which white hat SEO techniques should you look for? And which black hat SEO techniques should you know to avoid?
White Hat SEO Techniques
- Keyword research and use: To use the best possible keywords for a piece of content, the writer must first do some research. Keywords should fit organically and make sense within the content, such as “Naperville summer festivals” as the primary keyword in a piece detailing some of the best summer festivals in Naperville. The writer or marketer will choose keywords that have a high search volume since they have the best chance of being seen by the most people.
- Relevant links: It’s essential to create an internal linking strategy on your site to keep visitors on your website for more extended periods of time. It can also be helpful to link to other relevant sites (but not competitors!). You should also be working toward getting others to link to your pages as well. But make sure they are relevant links from credible sources, so Google will see your site as having quality content and give it more authority.
- High-quality content: We know content is king, so it’s a crucial part of SEO to create content that’s not only valuable to a reader but share-worthy as well. Your content should, of course, be original, relevant, and free of errors.
- Optimized metadata: Not only do you need good content on the site, but you need a strong meta title and meta description as well. People will see these in a Google search, so make sure they’re written for people. They should contain your primary keyword, and the description should serve as an ad for the page.
Black Hat SEO Techniques
- Non-relevant keywords: Stuffing your content full of keywords and using keywords and phrases that don’t relate to the piece are a problem. Not only will your content read unnaturally, but Google and other search engines don’t like this. Search engines prefer content written for people first, so your pages won’t rank well if you do this.
- Invisible text or characters: Another black hat SEO practice is adding invisible text, characters, or links to improve search engine rankings. This can be done by turning the font the same color as the page, making the font size 0, or adding a link to a character such as a comma or a hyphen.
- Irrelevant backlinks: As we mentioned above, getting backlinks can improve your domain authority. However, if unrelated pages link to yours or poor quality sites contain your links, it has the opposite effect. One black hat technique to get backlinks is to buy them. These are spammy, though, and they won’t help you rank higher.
- Duplicate Content: Purposefully creating duplicate content is another black hat SEO trick. This happens when you copy and paste the content from one page onto another, so it’s identical or extremely similar. If you do this, multiple results with the content appear in a search, which is a clear sign to Google, Bing, or Yahoo that you’re trying to manipulate rankings.
Avoid Black Hat SEO
Not only does black hat SEO make your business look bad, but it rarely works the way you want it to. Eventually, you will get caught, you will be penalized, and your pages won’t rank well, if at all, in searches. You also run the risk of being blacklisted from Google, which means your site will never be ranked.
Choose a White Hat SEO Provider
If you’re looking to work with an SEO agency, be sure to enquire about the techniques they use before signing a contract. To learn more about white hat SEO techniques, contact us.