What is White Hat SEO?

Written by Nick Stamoulis

White hat SEO is just one of the many methodologies your SEO campaign can follow. There is also black hat SEO, grey hat SEO and many other shades in between. One methodology isn’t necessarily better than the other but, as a strictly white hat SEO professional, I believe that white hat SEO is the best way to ensure your long term SEO success and build a powerful online brand presence.

A white hat SEO campaign typically meets the following criteria:

1. White hat SEO follows the search engine guidelines.

Both Bing and Google have Webmaster Guidelines that I highly recommend every site owner and marketing manager responsible for their business’s SEO program read. These guidelines are a great crash course in the basics of white hat SEO and let you know what kind of onsite and offsite SEO tactics the search engines do and do not approve of. Although these guidelines are bound to change with time consider them your line in the sand when it comes to white hat SEO. If the search engines say to NOT do something then don’t take the risk. Can black hat SEO tactics work? Sure. But in my experience they tend to only work in the short term and unless you really know what you are doing and know when to back out chances are you’re just going to get burned with a penalty (either algorithmic or manual).

2. White hat SEO doesn’t invest in web spam tactics.

Google’s Penguin update went after websites that had invested in low-quality links and other web spam tactics, which are exactly the kind of links and tactics a white hat SEO program should steer you clear of. A white hat SEO campaign invests in building quality links, not just a mass quantity of links, that actually enhance the value (and not just the count) of your link profile. White hat links should drive targeted traffic to your website as well, not just be used to improve rank. Like link building expert Eric Ward said in an interview I did with him, “When seeking any link, ask yourself if you would still want that link if Google did not exist? If you can say “yes, that link can help me in other ways besides organic search rank”, then pursue it.”

3. White hat SEO is designed to build visitors naturally over time.

If you need 1,000 unique visitors to your website by tomorrow than white hat SEO is just not for you. SEO is a long term, building process that takes dedication, commitment, and patience! Can SEO increase your organic traffic substantially over time? Absolutely! But you can’t expect a 500% jump in a month. It’s important to look for the little SEO wins that add up to make a better bigger picture. What new keywords are driving traffic? What older, non-branded keywords are driving more traffic? How many new referring sites did your SEO campaign create in the last 6 months? 5-10 visitors from a long tail keyword might not seem like much, but when you multiple that by 100 variations it makes a big difference!

4. White hat SEO positively markets your business/website online.

A white hat SEO campaign needs to be folded into the rest of your online and offline marketing efforts. How are you building your brand online? What new business partnerships and opportunities are you exploring? Are you looking for better ways to connect with your target audience? At the end of the day white hat SEO is about positively marketing and building your online brand presence so visitors can find your website naturally when they need you.

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