SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the term given to practices designed to get websites and individual pages better rankings in search engines; especially the major players like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Without good SEO the chances of getting high rankings are virtually non-existent with all the competition out there competing for eyeballs.
Organic SEO is about creating sites with quality content designed for the benefit of human readers and not just to please search engine robots. Your sites are set up in such a way that search engines find your content useful to a human audience and therefore give your pages higher rankings when keywords are typed in for a search for a particular term.
White Hat SEO
White hat SEO is very much like organic SEO. This is where the optimisation strategies and techniques employed to get sites ranked in Google is done in a way that’s targeted at a human audience and not the search engine robots. It is ethical and done in a manner that follows search engine rules and policies. Everything is focused on relevancy and a good experience for the end user. In other words, when a user finds your site in search results after searching a particular keyword phrase, when they arrive at your page they are met with content relevant to their search.
Some white hat SEO includes careful selection of keywords and constructing content relevant to those chosen keywords. Also there are backlinks pointing to your site and link building within your site.
Maintaining a white hat SEO practice is vitally important to ensure the long-term success of your website.
Black Hat SEO
This is the bad boy of SEO, the rebel living on the edge.
Black hat SEO employs the use of aggressive SEO tactics in a bid to manipulate search results and get ranked quickly. These tactics are targeted at the search engine robots and not the end-user. Black hat practices tend to fly against the wind, ignoring the rules and best practices that search engines put in place to improve the quality of their search results.
Some examples may include invisible text, where the text is the same colour as the background in a bid to employ keywords that are not relevant to the content. Another tactic is keyword stuffing, trying to jam as many keywords into the content as possible, often in a non-uniform way, leaving the content rather lumpy and jumbled and not pleasant to read, nor comprehend.
Those seeking a fast financial gain will often employ black hat practices in a bid to make some quick cash. These tactics are definitely not recommended if you care about the longevity of your website. Black hat practices will soon get your site banned from search engines like Google and Bing, leaving you with next to no organic traffic.
These are companies that specialise in setting up SEO for your site or sites. Generally they will perform white hat SEO and strictly follow best practices. It’s assumed that most are experts when it comes to SEO and it may be worth employing their services for optimum search engine rankings. There are a lot of plug-ins available for websites – particularly Word Press sites – that automatically handle most of the back end SEO for you; like keywords, descriptions and the like. However, these plug-ins don’t do everything. An SEO specialist will be aware of many ways to improve and increase the traffic to your site.
In addition there are lots of software programs on the market that are designed to help you improve your site's overall SEO score.
If in doubt about any tactic you might be inclined to employ to get more traffic, research it thoroughly first to make sure that it follows white hat SEO guidelines. If you care about your site’s future, then don’t indulge – or allow a third party SEO company to indulge – in any dodgy SEO practices, including tactics that fall into the grey zone.
I’ve learnt quite a lot about SEO and the right ways to go about it through my in-depth training at Wealthy Affiliate. Through step-by-step courses the tutors at Wealthy Affiliate guide you every step of the way with setting up an online business, and the training includes how to employ SEO the proper way, following the guidelines set out by the major search engines.
If you are interested in learning more about Wealthy Affiliate and SEO, then watch this very informative video below.
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Was doing some research on SEO and ran across your article. I always get confused when it comes to rankings and how SEO works. I think I always misuse keywords that aren’t big traffic targets so I’m not gaining to much organic traffic. I’ve never dealt with Black Hat SEO but I’ll be sure to keep away and only stick to White Hate SEO.
Hi John. Indulging in Black Hat SEO techniques can seem tempting to get traffic in the short term, but anyone who wants to run a sustainable business should really steer clear of Black Hat SEO. It’s like dealing drugs, you’ll get caught out eventually.
SEO is for many such a mythical term and just a few know what it really it is. That’s why it’s great that you did some good research on it and let everyone know what SEO is.
Does a good SEO campaign really set you up for long time success or are there any other ways to become successful over the longer term?
While SEO is majorly important, I wouldn’t rely solely on that alone. Building a solid and reliable email list is possibly an even better tactic long-term than SEO is. Learning all about running PPC campaigns is another good tactic that can bring instant results, but it’s important to start small and really learn what you are doing first, otherwise it can be just like gambling with your money. You could lose a lot very quickly.
Great post highlighting the different “shades” of SEO. To be honest, this stuff drives me crazy.
I’m a website owner myself and work extremely hard at it and it took me many months to begin seeing any traffic to my site organically.
That parts not the problem, what makes me angry is when you come across peoples websites that are openly admit to using black hat link building techniques to rank their sites using PBN’s.
I understand that building links to a website works temporarily, but it’s against Googles terms to build any kind of link in order to increase your position in the natural search results.
I think the people who create great content and build natural links by having people share their content etc will will eventually, but the question is when?
Or maybe the answer is not to put all of our eggs in one basket and diversify into other traffic methods and not rely on Google alone.
I agree. People who take the time to create quality content and get backlinks naturally should be duly rewarded in search results. I wouldn’t rely on SEO alone. Build up networks in social media, start an email subscriber list and learn how to do PPC campaigns and advertising effectively. Best to cover a few bases.
“Writing invisible text using the same background as your website” was an interesting technique to me haha. Black hat may work for the short term but the risk involved is too great. It is so much better to just help people you will make money eventually and most importantly you will feel a lot better just helping people.
Although I never heard of SEO Services before I think it would be a good idea to go about doing SEO yourself to learn the ropes a bit and then hire somebody to do it. That way you will know if the person you are hiring is legit or not nor would you need to depend on that person.
Hi Matt. That’s a good point you make about first learning SEO yourself, then if you hire an SEO services company you will know whether they’re legit or not.