In the world of SEO, the techniques you use to improve your search engine ranking can usually be classed as either Black Hat or White Hat. Here, we will list the techniques that you should stop using and the White Hat techniques that you should be using instead.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat is everything that seems slightly dodgy, spammy or makes you think twice about the authenticity and whether or not it is worth the risk.
Keyword stuffing – Although Google will penalise keyword-stuffed content, it is still common practice to use as many keywords as possible in your content. For example, ‘Intrafusion web designers in Kirkcaldy are the best web designers in Kirkcaldy when it comes to sourcing the best web designers in the Kirkcaldy area.’ This doesn’t make for very good reading and sounds very unprofessional. Re-evaluate your content and make it more reader friendly.
Invisible Text – Using white text against white pages in order to boost your SEO is never a good idea. Don’t attempt to trick the crawling spiders!
Doorway Pages – ‘Cloaking’ or creating a page that your users will never actually see in order to trick and attract the spiders is a form of the doorway technique. Try not to get caught up in the web of bad practices.
Title Tags – Stuffing the title tags with keywords like ‘best web designers in Kirkcaldy etc. is also seen as bad practice. Your title tag is one of the most important aspects of on-page optimisation therefore, it should content relevant and descriptive content of what the page is about, not just keywords to boost your ranking.
Link Farms – Listing your website on another site which lists several other websites is black hat. It does not provide any real value in the eyes of Google and could also see you being banned completely.
Fake Reviews – You should never buy or create any of your reviews/testimonials etc. If you provide a fantastic service, you should gain excellent reviews anyway, and fake reviews can be easily sussed out.
Duplicate Sites – Having a duplicate site runs the serious risk of you being penalised and banned from search engines.
Cloaking – Cloaking is when you attempt to get indexed and ranked for specific content, but when your users click the search engine result and come across something completely different to what they actually queried. Google will not tolerate this bad practice and neither will users.
Paid links – The majority of the time, if something sounds too good to be true, then it usually is. Google states that buying or selling links that pass PageRank is a violation of its Webmaster Guidelines. Getting caught doing so, could result in your site being penalised so don’t do it.
Unrelated Keywords – While it is tempting to piggyback from on highly-searched brand name terms or those of your competitors, don’t. It results in a bad user experience. Stick to relevant keywords where possible.
Spam Blogs – This is when you use software that creates garbled content and text with keyword phrases in an attempt to get users to click on an ad. It provides absolutely no value to the reader and while, you may get a few hits, if you are caught, your site will be banned.
Blog Spam or Comment Spam – Adding comments with garbled text and passing it off as comments on blogs to increase your number of inbound links is spam and is classed as bad practice or a black hat technique.
Pingback Spam – The is when you use software in order to regularly ping a variety of servers to alert them with ‘new’ content. When these servers are being pinged several times a minute, they are under the impression that the content is new when it is not.
Social Network Spamming – Sending out messages like ‘OMG, check out the crazy pictures we found on wxyz.com!!’ is a classic example of black hat spamming. It enables you to target a large group of people and have them click the links. This is definitely a technique to avoid.
White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO is everything which is set out in the rules and guidelines by search engine providers; creating fresh and valuable content, easily accessible to everyone and relevant to your service or product.
Create useful and unique content – This covers everything from actual website content to blog posts. Google loves fresh, new, relevant content and so do your users. Ensure to create content and information that your users will want to read.
Title, Meta and H1 Tags – Relevancy is key. Don’t stuff your site full of keywords, create a unique, relevant and informative description that clearly tells users what your site is about. Try to keep title tags to a minimum of 65 characters placing important keywords at the beginning and Meta tags under 150 characters. Make sure to have only one h1 tag and utilise the other header tags.
Site Speed – Having good site speed is absolutely vital for it to succeed. Ideally, you should have a score above 85/100. Google allows you to test your site speed for free and alerts you to any problems that may be causing a decrease in speed for both desktop and mobile view. Check your own here: http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Use No-Follow for Press releases – Most digital press release sites should do this automatically, but make sure that links are no-follow.
URLs – You should always use descriptive keywords in your URLs that are relevant to your page and its content.
Robot TXT – This is a text file that webmasters create to instruct robots (typically search engine robots) how to crawl and index pages on their website. You should include this in your website to ensure that spiders crawl and follow what you want them to.
Google Authorship & Google Publisher – You should make sure that you have these set up as Google is becoming very strict when it comes to quality, original content. If you connect your content to your Google+ profile and add it to the contributor section, this shows Google who wrote it, who wrote it first and it helps you get a boost in search engine ranking.
Mobile Web Development & Responsive Website Design – With the rise in mobile usage, and users accessing the web from phones and tablets, it is absolutely essential to have a mobile-friendly site. It is important to have pages which load fast and without a hitch on any platform.
Social Signals – Establish yourself as an influencer in your industry. Build social networks and regularly contribute valuable content and information that people will search for and actually want to read. Always keep your content relevant and current.
Guest Blogging – If you are an expert in your industry, being as guest blogger can be a huge bonus. People want to hear from those who know what they are talking about and by providing them with valuable, relevant information on a specific topic, you can also earn link backs to your website.
Google Webmaster Tools & Sitemaps – Google Webmaster Tools is a fantastic resource to achieve white hat SEO. You simply add your website, upload the code, and it will help you identify any potential problems and show how they can be rectified. Sitemaps help you to understand the structure of your site and Google’s coverage.
User Experience – The main goal of SEO is to ensure that users are visiting a site that is useful and relevant to them by scoring high in the rankings. You want the users to either read, buy or download what is available on your site. Implementing great content which caters to what search engine users are looking for and you have a well-designed, responsive website, then users will enjoy their experience, share your site and return, which Google will notice.