Search engine optimization is ever evolving subject and there are many techniques and strategies to ensure better search engine rankings. There are good techniques that are used in compliance with search engine guidelines and policies and there are bad techniques that do not follow any rule.
The only intent of all such practices is to take the website to the top of search engine rankings. If you own a website or blog and are responsible for search engine optimization then you must understand the difference between the White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO.
The reason you need to understand White Hat SEO (also called ethical SEO practices) is to be able to apply it optimally and the reason to understand Black Hat SEO (also called unethical SEO practices) is to stay away from it completely.
Anyone getting into the game of SEO for the first time might find Black Hat SEO techniques very lucrative since people offering such expertise often come up with offers that look like shortcut to the higher rankings.
Unethical practitioners are devising unethical techniques to deceive the search engine algorithms since ages but such techniques are always short lived. Such unethical SEO practices are often caught very soon by the search engines scientists.
Search engine algorithms are regularly updated to ensure that websites using unethical practices get beaten down the search engine rankings.
There can be a short span where websites can enjoy the top rankings with a newly discovered unethical technique but in just a matter of days such websites are thrown countless pages down the Search results or even completely banned.
Damages are often permanent, such websites are permanently blacklisted by the major search engines and do not rank anymore anywhere once caught using Black Hat SEO Techniques.
What is Black Hat SEO?
The Techniques applied by the SEO experts to improve the search engine rankings of webpages while not following the webmasters guidelines and other best practices are termed as Black Hat SEO techniques or unethical SEO practices.
There are many such techniques and here are details of few such techniques.
Cloaking is the practice where different version of the content is presented to the search engine spiders than seen by the actual website visitors.
Search engines are deceived to rank the webpage higher since they see the content that is just made from search engines perspective and not for the humans.
Human visitors of website see completely different version of the content that on its own cannot rank higher in search engines.
Google lists cloaking as violation of its webmasters guidelines because it provides users with different search results than they expect.
It is the practice of keeping some text on the webpage but hiding it from the website visitors, the hidden text on the page is intended to be discovered by search engine spiders only. Such content typically contains keywords that influence higher rankings.
Text can be hidden by different methods, like using the font color same as background color or using css elements to hide the content.
This practice is not used much these days but you should still know to avoid it since penalty for such practices is often blacklisting of the website from search engine rankings.
Keyword stuffing is repetitive use of search terms or phrases in the content even where it doesn’t make sense. The idea behind this practice is to try and influence search engines to rank your webpage higher for the stuffed keywords.
Usage of keywords is absolutely necessary but it should not look unnaturally high. Search engine algorithms are smart enough to identify if a webpage is stuffed with keywords.
Ensure that you maintain a keyword density of around 2-3% in the entire content. Anything beyond that can be interpreted by search engines as keyword stuffing.
Doorway pages is the practice where multiple low quality pages are created and each page is optimized for specific keyword or key phrase. All these pages typically link only to the one target page.
Users click on the link of these pages (called Doorway pages) in search engine results but are advised to click further on the landing page and are navigated to some other page which is the target of all these Doorway pages.
These are also called jump pages, gateway pages, bridge pages and by few other names.
The process of re-writing the content by changing words, using synonyms, rewriting part of sentences or complete paragraph is called article spinning.
The underlying content remains the same and newly created content doesn’t add any additional value. The content can be re-written manually but is typically done using automated tools and the quality of output text from automated tools is generally very low.
The motive of article spinning is to present the same content to the search engine multiple times for accumulating clicks while avoiding it to be marked as duplicate.
What is White Hat SEO?
The strategies, best practices, tips & tricks applied to improve search engine rankings of webpages while following search engine’ guidelines, rules & regulations are called White Hat SEO techniques. These techniques are also called Ethical SEO techniques.
White Hat SEO experts apply these techniques in a way that webpage content is optimized for search engines and beneficial for the content searchers without impacting user experience.
Here are some of the most commonly used White Hat SEO techniques.
Quality of content is one major factor that influences search engine rankings since the main target of all search engines is to present users the highest quality content which is most relevant to the search keywords.
Quality though is a subjective term but search engine scientists have developed all kinds of algorithms to judge the quality of content in an objective way.
Best practice is to write the content that adds value to the web, ensures end user experience and is optimized for search engines.
The practice of using HTML tags specifically for search engines is one of most common White Hat SEO technique.
The most commonly used tags are Title and Meta tags. You should craft the Title and Meta tag description to ensure that they include relevant keywords and convey the essence of the content represented.
Other key html tags include header tags like H1, H2, H3 and structured data.
Appropriate use of image names and alt text of images also helps search engines discover the content and images for right keywords.
In this age where everyone uses social media, publishing and sharing your content on the social media works great for getting more visitors and even more shares and likes.
This is again a great White Hat SEO technique and very effective in these times. The popularity of your content over social media is determined by the number of shares and comments which in turn are the votes for your content and an affirmation that content quality is great.
Search engines always give preference to the content that has more shares, likes and followers on the social media and translates that to higher rankings.
Appropriate use of keywords is absolutely an ethical SEO practice. You need to ensure that your content is discovered for the keywords you are targeting and hence specific use of keywords is desired.
While you should not write your entire article around SEO but giving it a thorough read before publishing to include desired keywords and remove unwanted keywords is a must. It helps rank higher and for the the target keywords, search terms and phrases only.
Having inbound links to your website is great from SEO perspective. When other good websites link to your website, it effectively means that they consider content on your website meaningful and are voting for it.
You can market your content over the internet so that it is noticed by other good website admins, writers and bloggers who in turn can link back to your website.
It should be noted that inbound links generated from poor quality websites for the purpose of accumulating links is bad for SEO and the result is lower rankings and penalties from search engines.
If your website is not ranking good, It is time to build quality inbound links to your website. Write guest posts, participate in forums, get listed in directories, get recommendations or links from people in your network, get shares on social media, there are many other ways.
Get started on quality and genuine link building and see the difference.