What Is White Hat SEO?

Alaina Bradenburger
Published: Oct 25, 2023
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With so many people online, your customers are likely to find you through digital marketing channels. In 2023, people conducted an average of 5.9 million Google searches per minute. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps you rise higher in these searches, improving your chances of being discovered online. However, not all SEO efforts are the same. To make a sustainable difference in your search engine rankings, you should be using white hat SEO. If you’re not familiar with white hat SEO, this guide will tell you everything you need to know, including what it is and how you can use this strategy to your advantage.

White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO: Know the Difference

Put simply, white hat SEO is when you follow the "rules" laid out by search engine guidelines (and the advice of SEO experts) to boost your organic search rankings. We'll get into this below. Black hat SEO, on the other hand, involves breaking these rules and cutting corners to get in front of more visitors and appear higher on SERPs. 

Black hat SEO tactics may give you a short-term boost but ultimately devalue your ranking. These strategies can involve keyword stuffing, misusing AI-generated content, and paying for backlinks, among others. Black hat SEO is designed to manipulate search engine algorithms into thinking your website is a credible source for a search term.

What Are the Risks of Applying Black Hat SEO Strategies? 

Using black hat SEO techniques might improve your visibility for a little while, but it carries risks. If you're caught using these strategies, Google might penalize you. These penalties range from a significant drop in ranking to being left out of search results altogether. And if this happens, it's hard for your target audience to find you online, and you'll likely see a dip in sales.

Some black hat SEO tactics may also put you at risk for lawsuits. For example, if you pay for backlinks to help establish your own site as an authority but partner with a site that plagiarizes, you may end up in a lawsuit.

Google and other search engines are configured to look for low-quality content. If you’re letting an AI-powered content creator generate your writing and you're not editing it, you'll likely be penalized. 

What Are the Benefits of Applying White Hat SEO Strategies? 

White hat SEO methods are proven to increase your organic search ranking and position you as a credible, authoritative source of information. White hat SEO strategies include:

Sticking with technical SEO best practices helps your website sustainably rise in search engine results. Instead of seeing a short-term increase in traffic while risking penalties, your website can stay atop the SERPs because you’re offering a high-quality user experience.

White hat SEO helps you increase your internet exposure long-term, allowing more potential customers to find you. Since most white hat SEO tactics involve positioning yourself as an industry expert, following them is a great way to build your network and share your expertise.

How To Do White Hat SEO

White hat SEO techniques can easily become second nature once you’ve learned how to implement them. Follow these steps and keep Google’s E-E-A-T guidelines in mind to increase your organic SERP ranking without putting your reputation at risk.

Do On-Page SEO

On-page SEO involves optimizing individual pages of your website. On-page SEO best practices involve adding keywords and phrases strategically throughout your website. An on-page SEO checklist typically includes:

  • Adding keywords to your title tags and meta descriptions
  • Adding Alt text to your images
  • Adding schema markups to product descriptions and other pages
  • Following the webmaster’s terms of service

Remember to keep your target audience in mind when you’re building your site. Use keywords sparingly and where they make sense. Follow page title SEO best practices to create short, memorable URLs that improve your SEO.

Solve Technical SEO Issues

There are plenty of technical issues that could lower your SERP ranking. You might have a low text-to-HTML ratio, which means that your website copy isn't in proportion with the code used to build your page. You can fix this issue by keeping your website design simple and limiting how much code you’re using to create the site.

Building a site with multiple tabs and tables could result in a lower text-HTML ratio, for example. Follow technical SEO best practices by:

  • Optimizing your website's loading speed
  • Making all content mobile-compatible
  • Bolstering site security
  • Resolving broken links
  • Removing duplicate content

If you haven’t looked at your website in a while, you may need to clean up the code to improve your site’s performance.

Leverage the Power of Keyword Research

When it comes to SEO, keyword research is your best friend because these are the terms that get you found online. Start by writing down broad topics related to your industry. For each topic, make a list of keywords or phrases people might use to find out about it online. Brainstorm related keywords and add them to each list. Keyword research tools can simplify this process.

Next, do some competitor research. Type your SEO keywords into a search engine and see who currently holds the top rank. Look through their websites and make note of common keywords and phrases. 

Consider the search intent for each term and phrase. For example, if someone is searching for coffee, they may be searching for a coffee shop nearby or they could be researching different types of beans. Each of these searches would be related but would produce different results.

Once you've landed on your core keywords and phrases, you can use them to make high-quality content for your target audience. 

Create High-Quality Content

Google and other search engine algorithms prioritize high-quality, authoritative content. By covering the topics your target audience wants to read, you are more likely to engage them and keep them on your page longer. Engaging content also helps you build your credibility and create a trusting relationship with potential customers. 

Regularly create blog posts, videos, white papers, social media posts, and other content that resonates with your target audience and speaks to their search intent.

Optimize for Mobile and User Experience

Make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices. Roughly one-third of internet searches are mobile. If your mobile website offers users a sub-par experience, they'll leave your website and go to your competitors. You may be able to create a responsive design by updating your web builder. If not, you can improve responsiveness in the short term by simplifying your menus and keeping content on the shorter side. However, you should definitely look into migrating your website to a mobile-friendly platform. 

Reduce your pop-ups, and make sure any call-to-action buttons and links are prominently displayed on mobile devices. Consider how a user would see your website and use it to make navigation easier. Make sure your website loads quickly and functions as intended. Catering to your customers and creating a good user experience encourages people to spend more time on your page and lowers your bounce rate.

Include Structured Data

Adding structured data to your site tells users (and Google) what's on each page. Structured data is a standardized form of data made to be read by people and machines. Such information is typically laid out in a grid and might include a brief description of your products or services, an average of customer reviews, or your price range. 

Structured data gives you rich results, or search results that offer more context to a user by adding your organized information underneath your website in the search results. Google has tools you can use to evaluate your rich results and improve them.

Apply White Hat Link Building Strategies

When you start building an arsenal of relevant content, encourage your readers and peers to share and link it. White hat SEO backlinks are those in which another credible site has cited your valuable content and added a link back to your site. When your followers share your content or other people quote you, it helps solidify your reputation as an authority in your field.

You can also build links organically by guest blogging, serving as an expert for podcasts and articles, and being active on social media. White hat link building is more effective at growing your reputation than engaging in black hat techniques such as link schemes.

How Compose.ly’s Services Can Help Your SEO Efforts

Following white hat techniques can help you grow your business by helping people find you online. Both white hat and black hat SEO techniques can make you more visible, but white hat SEO will help you stay at the top of the SERPs. 

Compose.ly’s SEO services can help you build your SEO the right way. We partner with vetted SEO content writers who can elevate your on-site copy and your content. We also offer SEO-optimized article briefs, content audits, competitive analyses, topic ideation, and keyword recommendations. Plus, we have subject matter experts who can review your content and help you with E-E-A-T!  Let's talk content and see how we can help you with your SEO.


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