Search engine optimization (SEO) is important. Without SEO, you wouldn’t get much organic online traffic. And did you know that SEO practices are often described in wild west terms? Some marketing agencies wear black hats and others wear white.
Striving for those #1 or #2 Google rankings leads some marketing agencies to practice Black Hat SEO – a set of practices that are used to increase a site or page rank in search engines through ways that violate the search engines’ terms of service.
Black hat SEO is sometimes plainly unethical – this mentality focuses on finding and exploiting the loopholes in algorithms.
To learn more about white hat SEO and black hat SEO, and to learn a bit about TheeDigital’s SEO process, continue reading. Or, listen to an open discussion from our digital marketing team and SEO experts about the different approaches to handling search engine optimization.
What is Black Hat SEO?
Companies doing dishonest, aggressive black hat SEO and internet marketing employ tactics like:
- Writing content stuffed with keywords that are written for search engines, not real people. It’s unpleasant and tedious to read articles with phrasing like “Raleigh Internet Marketing Specialist Sharon Dawson writes about SEO tactics in Raleigh for marketing your Raleigh website.”
- Advertising your business on directories for other states that are not in your target market. Would you find it helpful if the company built a link for your Raleigh Italian restaurant in a listing of the best restaurants in Boston?
- Getting you large quantities of social media followers quickly by using fake accounts not used by real people
- Adding a link to your website on any site, anywhere, about anything.
Often when asked for a report of work done, a Black Hat agency will provide you with a generic and unmeasurable response.
How would you feel if a company said to you “we have partnered with high-end website owners who will add you to their site for various niches,” without telling you what the names of the websites or niches are?
Why Black Hat SEO is Bad
Aside from ethical considerations black hat SEO isn’t good because:
- It’s more expensive than ever before: Google is much smarter than it used to be, so blatantly spammy, low-cost tactics – keyword stuffing– no longer work. As a black hat, your only option is to use more expensive tactics, so black-hat SEO can get very expensive very quickly.
- It’s VERY risky: If you go the black-hat route, there’s a decent chance you’ll get a Google penalty, which is the last thing you want.
Before a penalty hits, you may enjoy months of positive growth. But once the search engines catch on you will be hit by a penalty that is often difficult to recover from.
The question we ask ourselves at TheeDigital: “Is the work that I’m doing adding value to the user (and for my client) or am I just doing this for search engines?”
What is White Hat SEO?
Companies doing honest, above board SEO and internet marketing employ tactics such as:
- Writing content that real people want to read. Articles such as “10 Exercises to Look Younger ”, “Habits of the World’s Wealthiest People”, “How to Look Like Angelina Jolie” are things (some) people would enjoy reading.
- Adding your website to web directories focused on your areas, such as Yelp, Manta, SuperPages, and CitySearch.
- Creating a Google Business listing for your company.
- Finding sites where a link to your website can be added that makes sense for your location or industry. Such as adding a link to a dog training business on a website about animal rescue organizations.
- Reporting to the client the result of the work done, and providing details as needed. When you ask a company like ourselves about what they’re doing for you, they can explain it in simple, easy to verify terminology. If you ask them what links they have built to help your ranking, they can provide you with a list of them.
We Wear the White Hats
“White hat SEO” means you’re using SEO tactics that are in line with the terms and conditions of the major search engines.
TheeDigital improves your search rankings on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) yet maintains the integrity of your website with tactics that stay within the boundaries, as defined by Google, including:
- Offering quality content and services
- Mobile-friendly and fast site loading
- Using descriptive, keyword-rich meta tags
- Making your site easy to navigate
A carefully crafted SEO strategy can significantly increase your website traffic and improve sales. SEO offers one of the highest returns on investment of any marketing strategy. If it’s done right, that is.
Our white hat SEO strategy means:
We find long tail keywords using Google suggest
Most businesses struggle with SEO because they target keywords that are too competitive.
This makes Google Suggest really powerful:
These suggested keywords are long tail keywords that aren’t incredibly competitive. And, because the Google algorithm is suggesting them, you know that these are words that people actually use when they search.
We research the competition’s keywords
This sounds odd, but you can spend hours hunting for the right keyword. If we find a competitor site that’s doing really well, we pop the URL into a keyword research tool, and then we get a list of the exact keywords that site is ranked for. Then we can weave these into your content.
We visit online communities
First, we figure out where your target audience spends time by spending time there ourselves. This could mean Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Yahoo Groups, or other sites.
By looking at what your target customers are talking about, and especially asking questions about, we can find some great keywords by seeing which words and terms they use again and again.
We provide amazing content
An important aspect of SEO is an effective content strategy. You can use all the right keywords, but if you don’t have engaging, informative content, people will quickly leave your site. And if you use keywords on your site without content to match, Google will not show your website!
After doing our research, we create a content strategy that targets the most relevant potential customers, locally, nationally and worldwide. If you are targeting multiple locations, we form a content strategy based around each location.
We optimize for Google RankBrain
Google recently announced that RankBrain is their third most important ranking signal. RankBrain is a machine learning algorithm used to sort the search results and helps Google process and understand search queries.
According to Google, RankBrain tweaks the algorithm on its own. Depending on the keyword, it will increase or decrease the importance of backlinks, content freshness, content length, domain authority, etc. Then, it looks at how Google searchers interact with new search results. If users like the new algorithm better, it stays. If not, RankBrain rolls back the old algorithm.
We optimize your site for great user experience and readability
Google pays VERY close attention to one thing: The amount of time people spend on your page. If Google notices that people leave your site after a few seconds, you can expect a rankings drop.
To keep people on your site, we implement best practices like:
- We write great headlines with content to match. We write click-worth headlines with content that lives up to its hype.
- We create scannable content. We know that users spend only about 5 seconds looking at a website’s content. Rather than reading word-for-word, they scan the page to pick out what’s important to them. We give users content that’s easy to consume.
- We make sure there are clear calls to action. Users don’t have to worry about what to do next: we tell them in a way that’s engaging and clear.
- We build a high-performing website that can lift your business to the next level. We create not just a great looking website, but a site with stellar SEO that brings you high-quality leads.
Our SEO Efforts are Ongoing
We’re always searching, just like your potential customers. SEO isn’t a one-and-done sort of thing; it’s an ongoing marketing activity. We continue to work to get and keep your site at the top of search results by:
- Creating optimized website pages and blog posts (search engines like new content!)
- Optimizing your company’s Google My Business listing and Facebook page
- Locating and auditing any existing citations on sites like Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, and more
- Looking for, creating, and managing local citation and backlink opportunities to build authority