White Hat SEO Basics
White hat SEO is the practice of creating website structure and content in such a way that they rank well in search engine results – and does so in a scrupulous way.
White hats are comparable to grey and black hats, yet while the latter two will create SEO with unethical and possibly illegal ways, white hat SEO is more concerned with providing a quality, beneficial site. White hat techniques are more difficult and time-consuming than the other two; however this is offset by having little to no risk that web users won’t report them for wrongdoings or that search engines won’t ban or penalize the site.
Why do it?
Basically, an internet site is invisible without a good search engine ranking. To improve this ranking, a site must fulfil a number of the requirements of a search engine’s algorithms.
The challenge with this is that keeping a good search engine ranking can be a process that needs to be continually updated. As this can take time, effort, and money, some people try to shortcut the process with less ethical ways; however this can run the risk of being reported by internet users and being banned from search engines entirely.
How do search algorithms work?
Due to the sheer number of information and websites available, humans developed ways of outsourcing the work to computers. Instead of a human looking up every website on, say anteaters and ranking all of them from most relevant to least, a system of values was created to periodically ‘crawl’ through each site to determine their relevance. This way, search engines can be flexible enough to factor in searches like ‘black anteaters’ or another variable.
As Google is the market leader in search engines, websites now ensure that not only are their sites crawler-compatible – that is, able to clearly and quickly present their information to the crawler bots – as well as providing keyword-rich content to improve their rankings.
How to do it
Search engines rank websites using a variety of measures, such as the relevancy and currency of content, as well as site hits and linkages (or, additionally, by paying for advertising space).
Search engine algorithms are a jealously-guarded secret, and it’s easy to see why. If Google’s were to become public for instance, competitors would emulate their formulas and websites would be able to place themselves at the top of the rankings by closely aligning their site with what the algorithms look for. It’s in a search engine’s best interest to rank websites that are enhancing a user’s experience, rather than websites that use cheap and unethical tactics.
White hat SEO depends on a few things:
- Product know-how
- Constant updates
Because of the knowledge, time and effort required, these are effective yet hard to achieve. This goes to show that the best approach is quality.
Here are a few other things to consider:
- First of all, SEO should be considered within the planning stages of digital marketing. Google’s dominance of search engines is so overwhelming that anyone looking for a web presence has to dance to Google’s tune, and it’s better to set up a site for SEO first rather than later.
- Not only this, SEO ideology is intended to focus on a customer’s wants. A search engine designs its algorithms based on what they think will provide value to a web user. With this in mind, you might think about developing your site around what a customer’s needs are and how they search the internet and purchase items. This may mean quality content and user experience with some modifications based upon SEO. What it doesn’t mean is a site that is designed purely to rank well and is unusable by a web browser.
- Invest some time researching what customers are looking for. This means that the keywords that people search for match up with keywords, meta-tags and titles in your sites. Search engine optimization means exactly that – ensuring that your content and structures are set up in a way to catch what people are searching for.
Therefore, the goal is quality content displayed well.
- With this in mind, studying analytics reports are a good way of finding out if you’re connecting with your audience by providing the information in the way they want.
- Site maps and internal linking are two good ways of ensuring crawler bots can search and index every page. Internal links improve the quality and content available to a reader on the site, and as such it rated favourably by bots. Check that content and scripts used on the website can be accessed by search engines – if they can’t, your site is invisible.
- Of course, joining Google+ and using Google functions is a good way of increasing visibility (within Google at least).
- Building reciprocal links with other websites is a good way of increasing optimization. Keep in mind that a ‘more is more’ approach doesn’t exactly fit here. Quality sites that are related to yours are far more important than tons of sites that have little relevance. Not only that, but linking to a ‘bad’ site (ie. one that practices grey or black hat SEO tactics) may hurt your online standings. Building links to quality sites will help your place in the ‘community’; not to mention helping create visibility for your site (if you consider guest-blogging). Community links also means things like cross-media promoting, such as another social media network, or engaging with customers/audiences. This makes for good promotion in another way as well: a good relationship with web users means that the information available on the internet about your site is positive. Internet information can be permanent, and a bad review or negative opinion can come back to haunt you.
Creating good SEO can be a time-consuming process, but it’s one essential to any site that wants visibility. A multifaceted approach, one that involves studying the audience (through analytical data), tailoring the content to their needs, and building quality links is an excellent way to create an excellent (and ethical) site.