Ah, SEO – the acronym on every website holder’s lips – perhaps without necessarily understanding all of the ins and outs and ‘rules’ of the game.
Last month we discussed SEO basics and gave our top five tips for getting started with search engine optimisation. And our number one piece of advice? Become familiar with the Google SEO starter guide. This handy manual lays out general guidelines and best practices to help your site appear in a Google Search:
- If you do the right thing and follow the guidelines, you’re a member of the White Hat SEO brigade.
- If you’re thumbing your nose at the guidelines and attempting to manipulate Google’s algorithm, you’re a Black Hat SEO blackguard – and you’re likely to end up with your website omitted from Search… Not what you want!
So, what’s the difference between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO? (And what the heck is Grey Hat SEO?!)
White Hat SEO techniques
To put it simply, White Hat SEO strategies are the good guys. These are the practices that improve your search performance while staying within the bounds as defined by Google. These techniques improve the user experience by putting the user at the heart of any changes. They ask: What does a user want and need from this site? And how can we best meet and exceed these wishes and requirements?
Website-boosting techniques that play by the White Hat rules include:
- Quality content that is relevant to the user. The text should be written for the reader’s benefit, not search engine crawlers. Your site should benefit people, not bots!
- Content-relevant keywords stick to one primary keyword and two or three supporting keywords. Page titles and keyword-rich metadata descriptions are also good practice.
- Authoritative inbound links. These may take time to cultivate, but they’ll also do the world of good in the longer term. Backlinks – hyperlinks pointing from one website to another – are fantastic for SEO, but only if they’re relevant (again, that word!) and from a wide variety of high-quality sites.
- Optimised UX. Meaning: well-organised content that is easy to read; logical website navigation; mobile optimisation; and fast page-loading times. People want to be able to get in and get around quickly and seamlessly.
Black Hat SEO techniques
Whereas White Hats are the goodies, Black Hats are – you guessed it – the baddies. Black Hat SEO practices attempt to increase performance on search engine results through manipulation and are possibly a violation of Google’s terms of service. This is an aggressive form of SEO that may very well end up with your page or site banned from the major search engines altogether. Black Hat SEO tactics include (but are not limited to): keyword stuffing, meta keyword stuffing, link farming, content cloaking and (possibly worst sin of all!) publishing poor-quality content.
Black Hat SEO can produce quick-win improvements in rankings. They can, however, just as quickly lead to a loss of rankings or an outright Search blacklist.
Grey Hat SEO
Grey Hat SEO is, well, a grey area. These SEO practices aren’t really snowy white but haven’t yet made it onto Google’s blacklist. ‘Yet’ is the important word here, as Google is constantly updating its best-practice guidelines and algorithms – what is borderline okay today could easily demote you in the rankings tomorrow.
Essentially it is better to be White-Hat safe than Grey-Hat, sorry!
Viewpoint Digital Media has proven White Hat strategies to boost and maintain your site rankings
Wearing the White Hat can drive real traffic, delivering top-quality, relevant content, higher visibility and greater conversion opportunities. Essentially it can be a business-boosting boon.
At VDM, we are dedicated White Hat wearers, and we can help you not only create an evergreen SEO strategy but also set up goals and analytics, optimise your content, and engage in monthly SEO management. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: search engine optimisation is not a set-and-forget scenario. Those businesses willing to invest in a White Hat SEO strategy understand that it is a long-term commitment – navigating search engine algorithm updates and tough competitors to see your goals achieved and performance boosted year on year.
We’d love to help your business be White Hat Wonderful – give us a call and let’s chat SEO!