White hat SEO refers to the use of optimisation strategies that are in line with a search engine’s terms and guidelines. Unlike black hat SEO, white hat methods improve your ranking in SERPs whilst maintaining integrity and producing valuable, useful content for users.
Here, we’ll explain what white hat SEO is in more depth and go through our top 3 tips for using it to boost your site’s ranking.
What is white hat SEO?
White hat SEO is the use of optimisation methods that focus on improving a website to cater for a human audience. Instead of simply trying to cheat search engines and climb the SERP, white hat tactics adhere to search engine rules and focus on producing useful content for users.
White hat SEO is the very opposite of black hat SEO. Black hat SEO methods do not abide by search engine guidelines and offer a poor user experience. These methods prioritise increasing site ranking over creating valuable content for users. Whilst this might yield short-term results, use of black hat SEO can see your rankings drop more than before and in some cases result in you being banned from Google altogether.
For those invested in the long-term success of their website, white hat SEO methods are the way to go. Whilst these techniques take some time to perfect, they lead to valuable results that can actually be maintained.
White hat SEO and good user experience go hand in hand, with both sharing the same end goal of creating the best possible website for users. Here at Digital Uncut, we’re big supporters of white hat SEO. So much so, that we’ve compiled a list of our top 3 white hat SEO tips – take a look.
1. Keyword research
In-depth keyword research is the basis for a strong SEO strategy, and Google’s Keyword Planner Tool will prove invaluable for this. It’s as simple as entering your URL and letting Google scan your site for relevant keywords. You’ll then be presented with a list of numerous keywords which Google considers applicable and useful for your site. From here, you can build out site content ideas and establish the phrases that you should be using to help users find your website. As a starting point, aim to use 2-3 of your identified keywords on each site page and through its title, meta description, links, alt tags and headers. However, always take care to ensure that this isn’t overdone in a spammy way – only use keywords where they offer relevant descriptive value .
Single words aren’t typically the most effective keywords to target as competition is high. Instead, focus your efforts on long-tail keywords. Though these keywords tend to have lower search volumes, competition is also usually lower and often these multi-word phrases are much more specific and relevant to your site and its services. In doing so, you’ll end up targeting end users who are much more likely to convert.
2. High-quality content
In white hat SEO, quality tops quantity. Instead of creating dense, keyword stuffed copy and meta tags, always focus your efforts on producing clear and useful content for your users. After all, content is for users, not search engines.
Search engine algorithms are in place to ensure that users are met with websites that are helpful and relevant to their search query. In SEO, it can be easy to get caught up with optimising to please search engine bots. However, as Google algorithms can weed out this type of content, there really is no benefit to this, with it instead being integral that content is valuable for users. Consider your site visitors’ needs and how you can improve this through your content and services.
You should also always ensure that your site has no duplicate content. Search engine algorithms reward original and valuable content, so you won’t do well if your page has the same content as multiple other sites. This is particularly relevant for eCommerce sites selling a range of products that many other websites will stock. A strong place to begin in preventing duplicate content is with product titles and descriptions. Make sure that these are different from the vast majority and you’re already more likely to rank in search engines. Whilst it won’t guarantee ranking, it’s a good first step.
3. Clear site navigation and architecture
Navigation is one of the first things to look at when evaluating the quality of UX a site offers. A good navigation helps a user find what they’re looking for as efficiently as possible. In addition to its SEO benefits, a simple tool bar will help guide users to conversion pages faster. Ensure that none of your site pages are more than 2 or 3 clicks away from the home page as these will end up in Google’s supplemental index. In helping your users with a simpler navigation, you’re therefore also helping your SEO.
When considering SEO, it’s also well worth structuring your site using targeted keywords. Create dedicated pages for each keyword you intend to target. So if you wanted to target the term ‘white hat SEO’, you would create a page like: ‘www.website.com/white-hat-seo’. However, ensure that your pages are actually relevant to your targeted terms so that users finding these pages will find them valuable. Consider site visitors’ needs and optimise accordingly.
Finally, a site map is always a strong addition to any website. A site map offers a simplified view of a website, listing main pages within its structure to help users find specific pages faster. A simple site map should have text only links and doesn’t have to include all of your site’s pages, just the most important and useful.