While it may not always be at the top of your to-do list, search engine optimization is a task that will need your attention from time to time to boost the success of your website. But what is the best way to go about doing SEO?
There are two distinct schools of thought on the matter; white hat and black hat SEO. The terminology is not necessarily tied up in strict “good and evil” methodologies, it's about how closely you adhere to a search engine’s terms of service.
And while the good and bad is up for debate, Google and its counterparts will express their disapproval of unscrupulous tactics by penalizing your website.
Black hat SEO is the shadier method, using techniques that are outside the perimeters of the conditions set by search engines.
The motivation behind black hat SEO is purely to get the highest search ranking possible by attempting to play into search engine algorithms.
To avoid being put on the naughty list, here is what not to do:
- Keyword stuffing. Just like it sounds, this is the practice of loading your meta or content with an overabundance of hype keywords.
- Blog spamming. The practice of automatically generating comments or promotions leading to blog
- Purchase links. Buying links on a multitude of pages purely to increase search ratings.
Related reading: UX and You: 4 Steps to Increase Conversions and Page Rank
White hat SEO is strongly encouraged because its optimization methods fall in line with the guidelines of search engines, thus ensuring that your page will not risk being removed from the engine altogether.
This is the “pure” way of building a link profile, because it allows for it to be built up naturally. It does require some patience on the part of the SEO, as you will not reap the benefits immediately.
However, white hat SEO creates the most positive user experience for your visitors, so bear that in mind and do:
- Create quality content. The more you saturate your page with fresh content, search engines will recognize it as having value and bolster its rankings.
- Do guest spot. Do you have a friend who needs someone to write content for their blog? Offer to do a piece for them! Creating content for other websites and linking back to your own is an excellent way to naturally boost your online presence.
- Link baiting. While the term sounds a little fishy(ha!), this process involves generating links from other pages purely on the merit of your content. Having engaging blog posts, videos, and articles will more likely elicit citations to your page on other sites. Don't’ forget to have ‘sharing’ functionality on your website to make it easy to do.
There is a middle ground between black and white hat, where some SEOs choose to use a smattering of both techniques. They toe the ethical line of search engine boundaries with strategies like buying old or expired domain names and replacing the existing links with ones to their pages.
While there is a lot of debate about good or bad SEO methods, being mindful of the guidelines set forth by search engines is encouraged. To avoid the risk of having your website removed or otherwise penalized, the safest strategy is to be 100% white hat in your optimization endeavors.