For many individual website owners and businesses who are new to SEO, their only goal is to improve their search engine rankings. They’ll do anything to get their service sitting comfortably at the top of the search page.
Most novices who want their website or business to rank higher on Google use a number of different SEO tactics, and some days will show sudden gains, and other days they’ll see no progress at all. When you’re employing so many different tactics at once, it’s hard to tell what’s working and what isn’t.
However, one thing many newbies to SEO overlook is that not all SEO tactics are created equal. In fact, SEO tactics can be quite easily divided into “goodies” and “baddies”.
Some tactics you might think are helping your website improve its search engine rankings, could be hindering it.
Why use ‘Clean’ SEO?
Google punishes websites which use ‘cowboy’ SEO tactics. Their algorithm can detect when a website is using ‘black hat SEO’ – which are attempts to cheat the system – and the site is then punished accordingly. This doesn’t just happen to small websites – both BMW and JC Penney have been removed from Google’s front page for dodgy SEO.
For a small business owner or website, it’s important to conduct a clean SEO campaign. Otherwise, months of hard work can easily disappear overnight, when Google’s algorithm realizes you’ve been trying to cheat the system. You can be on the front page one day, and miles away from it on the next.
Here we’re going to break down to explain the difference between Black Hat SEO, which amounts to self-sabotage, and a White Hat SEO campaign, which will bring you sustained growth.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO is the equivalent of getting a lift in a car to finish first in a marathon.
It’s cheating the terms of service of search engines like Google and Bing to get to the top of the front page. It’s called ‘Black Hat SEO’ because of the bad guys in cowboy movies, who always wore a black Stetson.
Although using Black Hat tactics may mean an increase of traffic and some gains in the short term, the negative repercussions of using these tactics is long-term. The worst-case scenario of using Black Hat tactics is being banned from the search engine, which means being isolated from the steadiest stream of internet traffic. This can be disastrous for a business that wants sustained growth.
Examples of Black Hat SEO include:
- Automated Content: if you’re using artificial intelligence to create your content by ‘spinning’ other content on the web, Google’s algorithm is going to be able to tell.
- Keyword Stuffing: if your content is full of keywords to improve your SEO at the expense of readability, you’ll ultimately do more harm than good to your SEO efforts.
- Link Manipulation, like buying links
- Creating pages with duplicate content
- Sneaky Redirects
- Hidden text or links
- Automating Queries to Google
White Hat SEO
If your SEO services are clean, aka White Hat, and above board, you have a great chance of increasing your search engine rankings in an organic and sustainable way.
White Hat SEO is all about making content for a human audience, not for a search engine algorithm. This kind of SEO practice guarantees Google won’t punish you, because everything is above board and you’re obeying all the rules of the search engine.
Websites that focus on relevant content, which is well written and useful, are noticed by Google and rewarded by ranking higher on Google’s pages. Google also rewards websites that people naturally gravitate towards, through relevant and ‘organic’ prompting.
Here are the best ways to conduct a clean SEO campaign:
- Focus on user experience: Your website should be streamlined, fast and good looking, because Google rewards websites that consumers find easy to navigate
- Research your keywords, and only use the best and most accurate ones for your website or service
- All content needs to be of a high quality, both highly readable and informative
- Add the location of your business to your website and Google maps, for best local SEO practise
- Run an engaging and relatable campaign across social media platforms
- Employ the use of image and video, for Google rewards multi-media content