Lots of vocabulary gets thrown around when discussing SEO, and the term “white hat SEO” is no different.
You may have heard the term before, and even done a little bit of research into why it’s so important to a successful SEO strategy.
Nevertheless, you still may have a few questions, including:
- What is white hat SEO?
- What is the value of using white hat SEO techniques?
- Should you be employing a white hat SEO strategy for your business or client?
We’ll take a deep dive into all aspects of white hat SEO, so you understand the importance and value of these strategies.
What Is White Hat SEO?
When it comes to SEO, “white hat” strategies are those that align with the terms and conditions of the major search engines.
Major search engines include:
- Microsoft Bing
Think of white hat SEO as the way to organically rank by the rules determined by search engines.
White hat SEO strategies may include:
- Offering quality content and services.
- Fast site loading times and mobile-friendliness.
- Using descriptive, keyword-rich meta tags and headers.
- Ensuring your site is easy for consumers to navigate.
White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO
The core difference between black hat SEO and white hat SEO has to do with the techniques and strategies that are used to boost SEO performance.
White hat SEO strategies are often designed with the reader in mind and are aimed at providing value and a quality user experience, while black hat SEO targets the search engine.
Black hat SEO techniques are those that violate search engine guidelines and may include:
- Link purchasing
- Keyword stuffing
- Strategies considered to not be in the consumer’s best interest
While some black hat SEO techniques are successful, they are also very risky and unlikely to continue to work as search engine algorithms continue to evolve and update.
Those who attempt to straddle the line between black/grey/white hat SEO, or worse, employ only black hat strategies, risk being banned from ranking on search engines at all.
The Importance of Implementing Evergreen White Hat SEO Techniques
Most business owners think of white hat SEO strategies in today’s terms — meaning what is considered “white hat” today.
The big mistake often seen today is made by those who are trying to straddle the line between white hat, black hat, and grey hat SEO strategies.
The mentality being, “We can get away with it because Google’s terms of service don’t explicitly state that it’s bad.”
Now, think about 5-10 years down the road — those who are willing to invest in a white hat SEO strategy understand that it is a long-term commitment, meaning they want to be consistently ranking a few years in the future.
The importance of implementing white hat SEO strategies that will likely still be considered white hat years from now comes into play as search engine updates roll out.
When the next update debuts, chances are, those who tried to cut corners will be penalized because they tried to straddle that line between white hat and black hat SEO.
Those who have built their website using white hat SEO techniques, however, will be unaffected and are likely to continue to rank well.
4 White Hat SEO Tips to Help You Optimize Your Site Now and Keep it Optimized for the Future
Understanding the importance of white hat SEO strategies is the tip of the iceberg — creating a clear-cut SEO strategy and working to implement it is another story.
We’ll outline a number of white hat SEO tips and why they’re essential to a successful organic strategy, including:
- Creating content that will be of value to your readers
- Providing an optimal user experience
- Ensuring your on-page SEO is optimized
- Not resorting to black hat link building
White Hat SEO Tip #1: Create Quality Content Over SEO-Focused Content
SEO would not exist without content — but in order for content to be organically successful, it needs to be both useful and relevant to searches.
This means creating content that is:
- Useful and informative
- More valuable than other sites
By focusing on adding value to your readers, you set your content up for SEO success.
On the flip side, by focusing only on SEO strategies and tactics, your content will likely have very little value in the eyes of search engines.
While black hat SEO strategies may still garner some success today, that won’t always be the case.
As search engine algorithms evolve and get smarter and more human-like, quality content will become even more essential to a successful SEO strategy than it is today.
Meaning that if you’re writing content strictly for SEO, you won’t continue to see the results you’re seeing today 5+ years down the line.
Write for People — Not Search Engines
Writing with the reader in mind means that your ultimate goal is to add as much value to them as possible.
Aiming to …
- Answer the reader’s questions
- Provide in-depth content
- Cover an entire topic in one article
… are a few ways that content will help meet the reader’s search intent.
To a search engine, quality content shows that it is worthy of being featured on the SERP for a query.
Content that satisfies the user’s intent of a search has a much higher likelihood of ranking compared to web pages that are loaded with keywords and backlinks but don’t comprehensively answer the query.
Organize Your Content and Make it Easy to Read
Making content skimmable and easy to read is essential to a positive user experience.
To be successful in the eyes of the SERP, a website must offer content that meets the demands of users and be optimized for search engines.
Make content easy to read with formatting to include:
- Shorter, skimmable paragraphs
- Bullet point lists
- Images and screenshots to break up the text
- Mixed length sentences
To truly create quality content that optimizes your posts for readability, you’ll want to make sure:
- The webpage adds value to your readers.
- Your reader is able to quickly and easily digest the information.
Concentrate on Value (Useful Content)
While page experience is important, Google still seeks to rank pages with the best information overall, even if the page experience is subpar.
A great page experience doesn’t override having great content.
This means that the useful, relevant information to the search or target keyword should be the main focus of the web page.
No Keyword Stuffing
Avoiding keyword stuffing is essential — however, keyword research is a vital part of a successful white hat SEO strategy.
Keyword research can provide valuable insight into:
- Where a website currently ranks for keywords.
- Which keywords are easy to rank for.
- Which keywords competitors are ranking for.
It can also shine a light on what people are actually searching for, so new content can be created to more accurately meet their needs.
Including these keywords naturally in …
- Link anchor texts
- Title tags; and
… is crucial.
However, if a webpage attempts to keyword stuff, all that valuable time and effort into keyword research goes out the window.
“Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a webpage’s search engine rank.
“Stuffed” keywords may often appear repeatedly in a list or be inserted out of context and read unnaturally.
An SEO specialist knows how to identify the exact keywords that should be utilized as a part of any SEO strategy and how to utilize them using white hat techniques.
Whether you’re a small business owner or an agency looking to take on bigger clients, SEO Reseller can take your SEO strategy to the next level.
White Hat SEO Tip #2: Provide an Optimal User Experience
In an effort to more accurately determine site quality, and provide searchers with more relevant results, search engines are consistently making updates to their algorithms.
Recently, Google announced that a new update will be released in 2021 that will be focused on “Page Experience,” and their bots will favor web pages that are optimized for user experience.
According to Google,
“The page experience signal measures aspects of how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page.
Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile.”
This means that Google will be looking for how usable a website is.
Because Google wants to deliver only the best possible results to its users, sites with strong user experience and engagement will be rewarded with higher SERP rankings.
However, in cases where there are many pages that may be similar in relevance, page experience can be much more important for visibility on the SERP.
Maintain Optimized Website Speed and Performance
In short, poor-quality sites are less likely to rank.
If a website…
- Is not secure
- Looks outdated
- Is slow to load
… searchers are likely to revert back to the SERPs and click on another website.
If a website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, studies show that nearly half of visitors will move on.
Additionally, a one-second delay in page load times yields:
- 11% fewer page views
- 16% decrease in customer satisfaction
- 7% loss in conversions
Consumers today are impatient.
If searchers are leaving your site because of its load times, you’re missing out on that potential lead and business.
This means that slow load times directly relate to lost revenue.
Keep Your Website Secure
You could optimize your entire website with white hat SEO strategies, but without technical SEO best practices in place, you may still struggle to rank.
One aspect of technical SEO includes maintaining a secured website.
Search engines view unsecured websites as a risk to users’ online safety.
In order to secure your website, you’ll need to switch to the HTTPS domain distinction, which requires an SSL certificate.
At SEOReseller, our SEO specialists are able to analyze your site’s technical SEO performance, ensure its pages are user-friendly, and provide a positive user experience.
Make Sure Your Website Is Compatible With All Browsers
Browser compatibility ensures that your website will appear as close to the same as possible and be both viewable and usable in all of the major web browsers.
- Microsoft Edge
The most important goal is that your website…
- Can be viewed; and
- Can be used
… by a reader regardless of which web browser they are using.
White Hat SEO Tip #3: Optimize Your On-Page SEO
On-page SEO refers to the technical back end of a website’s pages.
In order to determine which piece of content will add the most value to the person searching, Google’s bots analyze a site’s:
- URL structure
- Title tag
- Meta description
- Header tags (H1, H2, etc)
- Internal links
- External links
- And more
Without optimizing on-page SEO, your website won’t even have the opportunity to rank.
Luckily, our SEOReseller team members are experts at SEO.
We specialize in a number of strategies designed to boost your organic SEO results, including:
- SEO campaign management
- Keyword research and link building
- SEO-friendly, user-targeted content creation
- Website audits
- And more
If you’re looking to implement white hat marketing techniques for WordPress, Squarespace, or Shopify, our experts are ready to get working on the right SEO strategy for you or your client.
Compared to optimizing title tags and meta descriptions, URL structure may seem less important, but it still can be considered a powerful tool for achieving successful SEO results.
In order to optimize the structure of your website’s URLs, you’ll want to ensure:
- URLs are uniform and all lowercase
- Hyphens are used between words
- Underscores aren’t used
- Relevant keywords are used as the “category” name
- Extraneous words are avoided
Correctly optimizing URL structure can:
- Give a potential site visitor a glimpse into what the content is about.
- Help improve click-through rates wherever links are shared.
Additionally, keeping URLs shorter makes them more user-friendly and easier to share.
Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
A meta description is an HTML element that describes and summarizes the contents of a page for both users and search engines.
Another HTML element that gives the reader insight into a page’s content is the title tag — aka the title of a web page.
With both title tags and meta descriptions, one of the white hat strategies to follow is to include keywords to help search engines and users discover and understand the intent of your content.
While Google has not specifically stated that title tags should be between 50-60 characters in length, you risk the chance of the title tag becoming cut off in the middle if you exceed that length.
Title tags are displayed on SERPS as the clickable headline for a given search result and are important for:
- Social sharing
Meta descriptions don’t hold as much weight in the eyes of search engines but still play an important role in terms of on-page SEO.
Header tags are used to differentiate between headings and subheadings on a webpage.
- Are ranked in order of importance
- Help give a search engine context
- Determine the value added for a reader
Header tags are used to improve the readability and on-page SEO of a webpage.
Google, and other search engines, follow links to discover content on websites and to determine its relevance for search queries.
If a post or page gets a lot of links this is a signal to Google that it’s an important or high-value article. This counts for both internal and external links. On your own website, internal linking is something you have complete control over. You can use internal links to guide your visitors and Google to your most important and high-quality pages.
In a way, internal links are the easiest way to gain links and control the anchor text pointing to your cornerstone pages. We can’t stress enough how a good internal link strategy can make it or break it for a good SEO campaign.
White Hat SEO Tip #4: Don’t Resort to Black Hat Link-Building
Black hat link-building techniques aim to drive traffic to a website by exploiting website loopholes, enabling a site to rank higher than it should through “organic” search means.
Building a reputable backlink portfolio is essential to a successful organic SEO strategy.
But it’s important to recognize that black hat link-building strategies are, in effect, cheating, since they are not designed to boost the user experience.
Their only goal is simply to boost page rankings. Thankfully, search engines have developed updates designed to penalize this kind of activity, deeming many of these link-building activities ineffective.
Build Links Naturally
here are a number of strategies you can experiment with to achieve the backlink profile you are aiming for without stooping to black hat link-building.
For example, you may choose to start a podcast and interview industry experts in your field.
Once the podcast goes live, you can have your guests share the link. Or, better yet, get featured on industry-related podcasts, which can link to your website.
Or, you might look into leveraging resources like Help A Reporter Out.
Another option? Plain and simply, create extremely high-value content that readers love enough to share.
White Hat Search Engine Optimization FAQs
The ins and outs of white hat SEO can be confusing, so we’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions.
Why Are White Hat SEO Strategies Considered More Ethical Than Black Hat?
The reason why white hat SEO strategies are considered to be more ethical than black hat is that they strictly abide by the terms of service set forth by search engines.
Black hat strategies, meanwhile, attempt to get desired rankings while skirting the lines.
What Is an Example of White Hat Optimization?
An example of a white hat search engine optimization technique would be creating quality content as opposed to content strictly designed to rank for a certain query.
Another strategy would be optimizing the on-page experience.
What Is a White Hat Backlink?
A white hat backlink is simply a link from another website (the referrer) to that web resource (the referent) that was earned ethically
What Is Gray Hat SEO?
Grey hat SEO is a combination of white hat techniques and black hat strategies.
An example would be creating high-quality content targeted to a specific keyword (white-hat strategy) and then hiding keywords on the webpage by making them the same color as the background (black hat strategy).
Should You Only Use White Hat SEO Techniques?
Yes — By implementing white hat SEO practices, you are ensuring the best chance you have for ranking now and in the future.
White hat SEO techniques are the best way to create a website that is:
- Sustainably successful
Just think of the flip side — if you try to straddle the line between black/grey/white hat SEO, you risk getting banned entirely from ranking on search engines. Google is a dominant source of organic traffic for websites, so being banned can result in a drastic drop in both website traffic and business.
SEOReseller Has Proven White Hat Strategies to Help Your Site Rank Long-Term
- A business owner who understands the importance of a white hat SEO strategy, but is overwhelmed with where to begin
- An agency with clients of your own and need help scaling your business and managing additional bandwidth
… SEOReseller is prepared to help you reach your SEO goals.
Our managed SEO services supply you with the essentials to organically rank and drive real traffic, using white hat SEO strategies, including:
- A website audit
- Keyword research
- On-page optimization
- Analytics tracking
- Link building
- Content creation
- And more
You can leave all things “white hat SEO” to our capable specialists and our SEO management services.