White Hat SEO: How to Rank Without Breaking the Rules
What Is White Hat SEO?
The term "white hat SEO" refers to SEO tactics that are in line with the terms and conditions of the major search engines, including Google.
White hat SEO is the opposite of Black Hat SEO. Generally, white hat SEO refers to any practice that improves your search rankings on a search engine results page (SERP) while maintaining the integrity of your website and staying within the search engines' terms of service. These tactics stay within the bounds as defined by Google. Examples of white hat SEO include:
- Offering quality content and services
- Fast site loading times and mobile-friendliness
- Using descriptive, keyword-rich meta tags
- Making your site easy to navigate
Examples of black hat SEO, by contrast, include purchasing links or using deceptive cloaking techniques. Any tactics that are considered deceitful or harmful for consumers would qualify as black hat. Black hat tactics are extremely risky and, as Google's algorithms evolve, less and less likely to work.
Why Are White Hat SEO Techniques Important?
Failure to engage only in White Hat SEO practices can get your site banned from Google and other search engines.
As the number one search engine, Google is visited by billions of people per day, and each visit presents the potential for your site to be discovered by a new user.
Google is an undeniably powerful source of traffic to your website, and being banned can result in a drastic drop in website traffic and even business. Consider all the work that goes into your website and then think about what it would be like to be banned from the internet's most commonly used search engine. What's worse, once you're banned from Google, there is no guarantee that they will ever re-list you. A lifetime ban from Google would have tremendous consequences.
Why risk it? Check out a complete description of Google-approved SEO techniques at Webmaster Guidelines. Google's Webmaster resources are the go-to place to learn Google white hat SEO practices.
Should You Implement White Hat SEO Methods?
Definitely! Implementing White Hat SEO practices is the best way to create an ethical, sustainably successful website and business.
Here are some of the steps you should follow to make sure your SEO methods are strictly white hat.
Offer Quality Content and Services
Create high-quality content that meets your visitors' needs and helps solve their problems. Use SEO keyword research tools to discover the most relevant keywords that your site content should be optimized for.
Then focus on using those keywords in great content, such as how-to articles and videos, that match the intent of the keyword and your end user.
Use Descriptive, Keyword-Rich Meta Tags
Follow best practices when creating meta descriptions for each page on your website to help search engines and users discover your content.
Make Your Site Easy to Navigate
Be mindful when organizing your site's Information Architecture. Sites that are easy for users to get around tend to perform better in organic search results too.
For more help with white hat SEO, check out our complete guide to SEO basics.