What is White Hat SEO?
In the early days of search engines, people had a number of ways to exploit the underlying algorithms that search engines used to rank websites. Keyword stuffing, link farming, duplicating existing content, and a variety of other strategies provided a viable means for a website to improve its visibility on any given search engine. But over the years, as search engine algorithms have continued to evolve, they’ve found ways to eliminate these “black hat” practices so as to improve the experience for users. As such, white hat SEO is nowadays the recommended route when it comes to growing website traffic and improving search engine rankings, but many website owners still ask “what is white hat SEO?”
This guide intends to answer this question and help website owners use these practices to build a better website. With StatCounter, you are able to track how these white hat SEO tactics have helped garner your website more traffic and how users are interacting once on your site. But we also aim to provide our loyal members with information to help develop a strong, and actionable, SEO strategy. Let us explain what white hat SEO is and how it can benefit your site.
White Hat SEO Practices
White hat SEO starts with user experience in mind. While your aim might ultimately be to improve your search engine rankings and draw in more organic traffic, it’s done by improving the content and usability of a website so that more users come to your website, and they stay longer. The aforementioned black hat SEO strategies might help to drive in more organic traffic, but those users will not be likely to enjoy their experience, and thus will be less likely to stay or come back to the website. Plus, black hat tactics can result in a penalty from search engines, which ultimately harms your rankings.
In other words, the strategies within local SEO focus solely on acquiring traffic from users in your region. So, as you might imagine, local SEO is best suited for local businesses that have a physical store front. Considering this, this discipline of SEO brings in not only online traffic to your website, but foot traffic to your storefront as well.
Luckily, white hat SEO practices are relatively easy to implement and, in some cases, can actually be easier than black hat SEO practices. Some of the best white hat SEO strategies to improve user experience, and ultimately improve your visibility and viability on search engines are as follow:
- Quality Content: To bring in authentic traffic with users who will spend ample time on your website, you’ll need to write quality content. Quality content means your writing will satisfy the intent of your chosen headlines and keywords. In other words, not only should your content be based on your keyword research, but the content should closely match the user’s search intent. Consider what you would like to find in search results for a specific keyword, and give users the same. Otherwise, users will quickly bounce from the site, rather than sticking around—which only hurts your rankings.
- Use Relevant Keywords: The content on your website should be based around extensive keyword research, using terms that are closely related to your business and industry. This helps drive more organic traffic to your website, and will subsequently present more authentic engagement throughout the site.
- Make your Site Easy to Navigate: Of course, to get better engagement across the entire website, you’ll want to focus on the layout of your website. Assume that users don’t want to waste any time navigating through a tricky website layout. A simple, navigable website will improve user engagement. For instance, if you’re a service provider, you should have each of your services listed and linked from a single “Services” page located in the navigation bar of your site.
- Quality, Authentic Backlinks: To give more authority to your website, finding authentic backlinking opportunities is a good bet. In fact, a website’s backlink portfolio is a major ranking factor for Google. Strong backlinks will not only boost a domain’s authority, but also has the potential to drive traffic—both of which will help improve your search result rankings.
White Hat vs Black Hat SEO
As mentioned before, while white hat SEO is the best practice to get your website ranked without risking a penalty, the early days of search engines worked a bit differently. For example, when Google was just getting started, the number of backlinks that directed back to your site was the main, if not only, search result indicator. PageRank, as it was known, was built using these backlinks, and the more backlinks your website had, the higher the PageRank your site had.
This was easy to manipulate, however, and many website owners began buying domains just to link back to their main website. As you can imagine, these sites often did not take the user experience or user intent into account, causing search users to grow frustrated with the results they were being served. In the time since, search engines have slowly added to their ranking algorithms to make black hat SEO techniques obsolete.
In fact, many black hat SEO practices can get your website penalized by search engines, causing a major drop in search result rankings or a complete blacklisting of the website in question from search result pages. In short, when it comes to white hat vs black hat SEO practices, avoid the latter.
Track Your SEO Efforts with StatCounter Insights
As you can see, sticking to white hat SEO for your website will always be in your best interest. The techniques within black hat SEO are outdated and will only hinder your chances of ranking within search engine results. As you begin to familiarize yourself with white hat SEO and implement the tactics therein, you’ll want to monitor your results from such to ensure your strategies are performing as intended. With StatCounter, you can track the progress you have made on your website through our SEO training to ensure your website is competitive in search result rankings. The detailed metrics provided can give you valuable insight as to how much traffic your website acquires and how those users are navigating through your site.
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