What is white-hat SEO? Everything you need to know

Want to know more about what white hat SEO actually is and why it's important for your website? Take a look at our latest blog!

According to Hubspot, 69% of marketers invested in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in 2021. SEO is an extremely effective content marketing tactic, and key for ensuring your brand is found when potential customers are looking for you. 

When it comes to SEO, there are two common approaches: black-hat and white-hat SEO. If you’re implementing an SEO strategy, it’s essential to know the difference between the two, so you can make sure the changes you make to your website have a positive impact on your rankings and allow the right people to find you online, 

So, let’s get into it and have a look at what white hat SEO is and why it’s important for your strategy. 

What is white hat SEO? 

White hat SEO refers to any SEO strategy that follows the best practices and guidelines of search engines such as Google. 

White hat techniques are anything you implement that can improve your website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs) while remaining in line with Google’s guidelines and ranking factors. It means you’re building an authoritative site that’s helpful for your users and provides them with the information they need, rather than relying on tricks to work your way through the search results. 

Examples of white hat SEO techniques include:

✅ Provide high-quality, useful and great content 

✅ Make sure your website loads quickly and is mobile friendly 

✅ Optimise web pages for relevant keywords 

✅ Provide a good user experience on your website 

✅ Create an internal linking strategy 

✅ Create a backlink strategy 

✅ Utilise social media 

These are just some of the tactics you should be employing to improve your website and rankings and make sure you build site authority gradually without cheating the system and potentially being penalised by Google. 

White-hat vs Black-hat SEO 

So, now we know that white-hat SEO can help you build site authority and improve your rankings in the SERPs, let’s look at black-hat SEO. 

White-hat and black-hat SEO both work towards the same goal: increasing your rankings in search engines. But there are a number of differences to consider because some black-hat techniques can mean you’re penalised by Google and other search engines and can actually hurt your rankings. 

Black-hat SEO is associated with exploiting and looking for loopholes within Google’s algorithms and guidelines. 

Anything that is considered deceitful or harmful for website users is considered a black-hat SEO technique. Black-hat SEO tactics involve creating content purely for the purposes of ranking within the search engines rather than creating content with a user-first mindset. So, employing these tactics can mean your website appears at the top of the search results, but it will be completely useless to users. 

Google’s key aim is to provide its users with the most relevant content associated with the query they type in. For example, someone who types in ‘how do i create a digital marketing strategy’ is probably looking for tips or a step-by-step guide on implementing digital marketing for their business. 

Employing only black-hat SEO techniques can result in your site being completely banned from Google and will mean you lose out on one of the key sources of traffic to your website. Google dominates 91.9% of the search engine market, so being banned can greatly impact your business! 

What classes as a black-hat SEO technique? 

There are a few things to avoid if you want to make sure your SEO strategy is strictly white-hat: 

  • Keyword stuffing - this is overusing your keywords within a piece of content or within your meta tags in an attempt to trick search engines into ranking a page higher for particular terms. 
  • Hidden content - some websites use tags to hide content on a page which can be seen by search engines but is invisible to the user. 
  • Paid links - Link building is a powerful SEO strategy because links that point to your site can help your organic search rankings. However, you need to earn links organically. Paying for links is considered black-hat so try to avoid this. 

Without white hat SEO tactics, Google probably wouldn’t be of much use to any of us. Imagine Googling something and having to spend half an hour sifting through irrelevant results to find the information you need! Nobody would ever use Google. 

White hat SEO helps Google to make sure it provides great, helpful content to its users, searchers benefit by being provided with the most relevant information related to their search query. And sire owners benefit because they can boost rankings without having to rely on dishonest tactics. 

SEO strategies to stay strictly white hat 

Here are just some of the best practices you should follow to build a sustainable SEO strategy.

Strategy 1: Provide high-quality, valuable content 

When creating content for SEO purposes, always put the user first and ensure it matches their search intent

When building your SEO strategy, use keyword research tools to find the terms your potential customers use to find products and services like yours. Focus on creating helpful content around these keywords, such as how-to guides or videos and always keep the intent of the keyword in mind and make sure you’re providing your users with the best answers. 

9 in 10 marketers produce blog content to help them achieve their marketing goals. Content is king when it comes to SEO, so make sure you’re creating content with your target audience in mind, not just to make sure your site ranks in the search results.

Google specifically looks out for helpful content and will favour it when ranking websites so make sure you’re providing your visitors with valuable information that they might not be able to get anywhere else. 

Strategy 2: Include keywords in your meta tags 

When it comes to creating meta titles and meta descriptions for your website, always follow best practices to help search engines and users discover your content and understand what it’s about before they click through. 

Getting keywords in the right places can have a huge impact on your rankings in the search results. 

Strategy 3: Make sure your website is user-friendly and easy to navigate

When creating your website, make sure the architecture is clear and helps users to find the information they need easily. 

Websites that are easy to navigate usually perform better in the search results too, because Google can find the content easily and see how all the pages relate to each other.

Strategy 4: Create content for other websites 

According to search engines, a good website has other authoritative and relevant websites linking to it. This is also known as a backlink from another website that uses a piece of content as a valuable resource. 

A great way to earn links from other websites is by creating content for them, such as blog posts. You can include a link back to your website, and guest blogging is a popular way to build backlinks. 

Strategy 5: Always satisfy user intent 

Satisfying user intent is Google’s number one goal. Search intent is what people want to know when they type something into a search engine. 

Types of intent include:

🔍 Informational 

🔍 Commercial

🔍 Navigational 

🔍 Transactional 

Keeping this in mind will not only help you to provide users with the information they need to make a purchase from you, it will also help you to understand what type of content will satisfy each intent. 

For example, an informational search might be something like ‘how do I change a car tyre’. This person is specifically looking for instructions on how to change a tyre, so is probably looking for a how-to guide or a video. On the other hand, someone who searches for ‘buy red trainers’ is looking specifically to make a purchase, so a product page will probably provide them with what they need. 

Strategy 6: Have a look at Google’s guidelines 

To make sure your SEO strategy stays in line with best practices, make sure you follow Google’s webmaster guidelines

This tells you everything you need to know about how Google finds, indexes and ranks your website. Knowing more about this can help you to make sure that you’re optimising your site in the right way and avoid black hat techniques that can result in your site being penalised by search engines. 

Key takeaways

Following white hat SEO techniques will really help you to improve your SEO strategy and make sure you’re appearing for relevant search terms to your business, products and services. You need to provide relevant and useful information that matches your user’s search intent and a website that’s easy to use and navigate. 

If you’d like to know more about how your SEO strategy is performing or if there’s anything you can do to improve it, please request a free digital marketing audit.  

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Blog written by

Lucy Forrest
Digital Account Manager