Apr 5, 2014

SEO Best Practices – White Hat vs. Black Hat Tactics

If you want your site to perform well in Search Engines, the best practices to follow are known as White Hat. White Hat marketing is when you put the time and effort and use integrity to create a website that your potential audience will find useful; nothing more, nothing less.  There are no skip the lines or get out of jail free cards; if you want your site to rank well, you need to make sure you are following White Hat SEO best practices.

Every search engine marketer understands that it can be difficult to keep up with changes in Google’s algorithms and identify what is right and wrong, but if you are actually putting in the time (instead of seeking out shortcuts), you are not going to get penalized. Actually the changes in algorithms make it even easier to rank well for doing to right thing. What is the right thing? Here are some quick dos and don’ts when it comes to SEO.

What NOT to do to increase search engine visibility

1. Pay a company or someone for a “quick fix of your SEO”

Every day, my junk email fills up with spam offers that target vulnerable companies to perform SEO services not supported by Google and other top Search Engines.  THIS IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS! We see time and time again, people fall for a to-good-to-be-true offer like, “$99 SEO work” and end up in a worse situation than they originally started with. If SEO work is only going to cost $99, then it is not worth your time. We are not claiming that you have to pay a fortune for good SEO work, but if you are looking for quality work with high ROI, then you are going to want to identify companies that do custom work based on your current situation. You will not just appear at the top of Search Engines overnight. Best case scenario, you’ve wasted money and gotten no return.  Worst case scenario, these companies do something that you really get penalized for by Google.

2. Don’t purchase links

I struggled with which item to list first, because this is equally if not more important than the first item. In previous years, Google wanted you to have a high number of links pointed back at your site. But after their recent updates, having too many links pointed at your site can actually hurt you. They are looking for quality over quantity now.

Don’t panic if you have sites linking to your page.

Here are two tools to use if you are interested in your External Backlink history:

  • MajesticSEO.com
  • MOZ.com

If a site wants to naturally point to your site, then that is okay. Google has invested and continues to invest in new ways to help them identify natural and unnatural link building tactics. It is not worth trying to beat Google by paying for links or signing up for a link exchange. Instead, naturally build links to your site that interested website users will follow like social media posts, blog articles, and answering questions on forums.

3. Duplicate content

Sometimes this technique is not even on purpose, but you can still be penalized from it. You never want to copy something from another site, even if you are the owner of both sites. If you need to share the same information twice, make sure you reword the text.  Duplicate content is another way to get blacklisted by Google. We even suggest rewording across multiple social media platforms.

4. Miscellaneous negative practices

The previously mentioned SEO tactics are the worst offenders for getting your site negative ranking. Here is a quick list of some other negative practices:

  • Too much advertising on your page
  • Keyword stuffing (Trying to rank for certain keywords by repeating them on your page an unnatural amount of times)
  • Cloaking (Getting attention for something other than what your site offers)
  • Wrong redirects
  • Invisible keyword stuffing (Hiding a bunch of keywords in the code, tags, and images)

NetSource Technologies has dedicated Google Partners who keep up with the latest SEO practices. Every step of our Website Development is done with regards for Search Engine Optimization. Below are some suggested best practices to improve your search rankings. Please contact us today if you have any questions about your current SEO provider or are interested in our SEO services. Remember, no one can guarantee you the #1 rank for any search term.

A smart practice is to frequently check the Google WebMasters Blog for any updates and tips on SEO practices.

How to improve your Search Engine Ranking

1. Content is King

This is a phrase that has been around for quite some time. If you want to rank for a search term, make sure your website and content is relevant for those terms. For example, if you sell ice cream in California, make sure your site is about the ice cream your California shop sells. It’s that simple, right? If it were that easy, then everyone would rank for their terms. Google also looks at frequency, recency, quantity, and popularity.  How frequently is content updated on your site that has to do with “ice cream in California”? How recent is the relevant information on your site; was it updated last week or last year? How much content on your site is related to your relevant keyword or phrase – one page or 10? How many people have visited your page when they searched for ice cream in California? Do they leave immediately or continue to browse your site, returning often?

2. Be Social & Likable

Google has added social channels into their algorithms. Although we do not know to what extreme, we do know they count. If your site is getting traffic from social sites like Facebook and Google+, Google is going to consider your site relevant for your keywords and reward you for that organic traffic, which is why you need to be likable. The more people who organically locate and visit your site (demonstrating popularity), the more Google will reward you for that traffic. Google+ is a highly recommended service for businesses looking to improve SEO ranking.

3. Reviews & Ratings

Google Places is an absolute must for local search results. This should be your first step to improve your local search ranking. Make sure you update this page to reflect your current address, hours, menu, etc. You also want to encourage your customers to review your business as well. This goes back to being likeable. The more people who positively review your company (and have done so recently), the better it is for your organic local ranking.

4. Miscellaneous positive SEO tactics

Here are a few simple suggestions to help improve your SEO:

  • Title all of your pages to reflect what that page is about
  • Use Meta descriptions for each page
  • Use relevant HTML headings (h1, h2, h3, etc.)
  • Relevant image names
  • Create a mobile responsive site
  • Avoid Flash and JavaScript

Again, there is no mad science to what you should exactly do to improve your organic search ranking. Suggested above are just some simple ways to help improve your site. If you have ever participated in Black Hat marketing, you should contact us directly to discuss some of your options. You want to make sure you stay up-to-date on the top search engine best practices or work with a company that is to avoid being penalized in search results.

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