In SEO, you’re going to find many experts who differ in their approaches to executing SEO strategies for businesses. With vast information comes lots of disinformation on SEO you need to watch out for. In 2018, companies are having the most success with SEO through implementing the best white-hat SEO practices and techniques.

The firms who have not seen as much success or have gotten their websites delisted entirely from Google are also the ones where the SEO has been completely ruined due to black-hat SEO, all the things you should never do with your SEO at all.

Still confused by what in the world white hat and black hat SEO mean? Not a problem. In this article, you’re going to learn the differences between white hat SEO and black hat SEO and find out what SEO trends in 2018 are most useful for your business in 2018.

What is White Hat SEO Exactly?

In search engine optimization, there are specific rules SEO professionals follow to get your website to rank higher on Google and other search engines. Google’s algorithm has undergone several changes and updates in the past, and these SEO rules have also gone through similar changes.

It is crucial for SEO marketers to keep abreast of the latest best practices in SEO to reassure clients that their website is going to rank well without any penalties from Google. That’s where white hat SEO comes in.

White hat SEO is precisely as it sounds. It’s a way to have your website remain in good standing by Google’s standards while making the most of what’s there on your website.

White hat SEO also includes changes made to the website and content which are entirely within the boundaries of what’s acceptable to Google’s guidelines. With white hat SEO, your site will develop more authority and keep website visitors on for more extended periods of time through:

Faster Page Speeds

Google’s algorithm is heavily in favor of fast loading websites. The ideal load time for a website is under 5 seconds. White hat SEO optimization, in this case, would involve minifying the JavaScript and CSS files on your site as a start.

We’re referring to your website’s code responsible for much of what the user sees on their browser. Other ways to increase the speed of your site would be by compressing website images down to an acceptable size (under 200 KBs in most cases) or getting rid of render-blocking JavaScript altogether. Very technical, but completely acceptable under Google’s guidelines. Their PageSpeed Insights tool even tests for many of these factors if you want to see how your site fares in these areas.

Title and Meta Tag Optimizations

Many websites suffer from lacking meta descriptions or having the same ones displayed to the user regardless of whether the content on each page is different or not. Adjusting title and meta tags on a website would also be classified as a white hat SEO technique. There’s nothing wrong with having relevant keywords mentioned in those tags either as long as you’re not overstuffing and over-optimizing them, which is also possible.

Clean Permalink Structure

In our previous post, we discussed the topic of permalinks and why they are essential for your site. The permalinks on your website should also be optimized to have relevant keywords about your business and be as simple as possible (e.g., www.websitedomainexample.com/atlanta-seo-agency). Regarding website structure and navigation, these links should never exceed two levels, or else Googlebot will become confused.

Permalinks should also accurately describe what each page is about. For websites that already have permalinks which haven’t been optimized for SEO, 301 redirects would be used so Google won’t de-index the page.

Appropriate Use of Headers

In white hat SEO, SEO marketers will also know the basics of HTML, a markup language used to create the structure of web pages. In HTML, an important topic of discussion revolves around header tags. There are six distinct header tags: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 tags. H1 tags are used to summarize the topic of the page, while H2 and H3 tags are used to organize sub-topics within your page. For more information on header tags, you can check out our guide where we explain the importance of header tag optimization on business sites.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is every SEO professional’s best friend. This tool gives white-hat SEO more of an edge because it will let you know if your website is violating any of Google’s guidelines. You will get a clear look over what keywords people are using to find your site. Most importantly, this tool allows you to submit an XML sitemap of your website. We always submit client websites to Google through the Google Search Console.

This is one of the most critical steps in the white SEO process as this tells Google where your website’s pages are. Sitemap submissions are instant, and in a few days, Google will start indexing your pages, so your website will be able to rank for the keywords you want.

SEO Friendly Content

Without content, you don’t have much to build from when developing your website’s SEO. Websites that have in-depth, informative SEO-optimized content are far more likely to rank well for target keywords than those that don’t. It also helps to have a few long-form pieces of content designed to help you rank higher. On average, websites that have blog posts with at least 1000 words or more were the same ones that are ranking higher than their competitors on Google.

Enter Black Hat SEO, Every Website’s Worst Nightmare

As you can see, white hat SEO is all the stuff you’re supposed to be doing on your website to begin with. It’s clean, honest, and entirely ethical and won’t land your website in trouble with Google. However, with black hat SEO, all standards fly out the window. It’s the exact opposite of what white hat SEO stands for. Some examples of black hat SEO are:

Content Spinning

Content or article spinning is the practice of writing one article and using programs to “rewrite” it hundreds or even thousands of times in an attempt to fool Google’s search engine algorithms. Spun articles are one of the worst ways to improve your SEO because it shows a lack of originality and ultimately provides no value for the user.

Cloaking

Here’s a very sleazy black hat SEO tactic. Cloaking means to pull a bait and switch on the search engine. You show them content utterly different than what the user will see in an attempt to manipulate your website’s ranking. This is a complete violation of Google’s guidelines and will get your website into huge trouble if caught.

Purchasing Links

Another way you can land in hot water with Google is by buying links. All kinds of black hat scammers will say anything to get your business. You’ve probably seen some of these scams for yourself on Fivver and Upwork. A common mistake made in this situation is that these people will buy enormous amounts of links and have them point back to your website in hardly any time at all.

This raises a major red flag to Google that there’s something suspicious going on. The worst-case scenario is that your website would not be eligible to show on search engines as a result.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing happens when you over-optimize your content for keywords. In 2018, it’s no longer necessary to have keywords mentioned everywhere in your topic to the point where the content doesn’t sound so readable for people visiting your site. Search engines have gotten a lot smarter and look at other metrics to determine whether your content and website are valuable like bounce rates and average time spent on the site.

Automated Queries

According to Google Search Console Help, automated queries are completely against Google’s Terms of Service. Automated queries involve using software to abuse Google’s search engine to see how your website is ranking. Send too many of these queries and Google can block your computer and IP address. There’s no need for automated queries where there are many legit tools like SEMRush and SpyFu that will tell you where your website stands in SEO.

Get caught doing any of these things, and the consequences will be dire and not what you want to be dealing with as a business owner. If it seems too good to be true, then avoid that technique at all costs.

Why White Hat SEO Wins Every Time

Using white hat SEO on your website will lead to greater success, but it takes consistent time and effort to see results. Black hat SEO gives people a quicker satisfaction, but it comes at a price. You can get away with using them for a while, but when caught, the SEO on your website can vanish along with your website’s eligibility to show as a relevant Google search engine result.

You can avoid the pitfalls many businesses have with black hat SEO by calling our SEO experts at 470-440-3434 or emailing [email protected]. All of our techniques follow Google’s guidelines and terms of service and will not get your website penalized. We also offer a free SEO website audit and a consultation. Thank you for choosing Viridian Geeks, Atlanta’s top SEO and digital marketing professionals.