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THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work

THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work

There's very few things in the world that I perceive as wholly black + white. Spamming the search engines vs. authentic, organic marketing

White Hat SEO: It F@$#ing Works

I hate webspam. I hate what it's done to the reputation of hardworking, honest, smart web marketers who help websites earn search traffic. I hate how it's poisoned the acronym SEO; a title I'm proud to wear. I hate that it makes legitimate marketing tactics less fruitful. And I hate, perhaps most of all, when it works.
Here's a search for "buy propecia," which is a drug I actually take to help prevent hair loss (My wife doesn't think I'd look very good sans hair):
Buy PropeciaLike most search results in the pharma sphere, it's polluted by pages that have artificially inflated their rankings. This is obvious to virtually everyone who's even partially tech-savvy and it does three terrible things:

Marketers and technologists who observe results like this equate SEO with spamming. If you've read a Hacker News or StackOverflow thread on the topic, you've undoubtedly seen this perspective.
SEOs new to the profession see this and think that whatever these sites are doing is an effective way to earn rankings, and try repeating their tactics (often harming their sites or those of employers/clients in the process).
Consumers learn not to trust the search results from Google, killing business value for everyone in the web world, e.g. this post on Why You Should Never Search for Free Wordpress Themes in Google
Spam removes economic and brand value from the search/social/web marketing ecosystem. If you create this kind of junk, at least be honest with yourself - you're directly harming your fellow marketers, online businesses, searchers and future generations of web users.

Last week, Kris Roadruck wrote a post called "Whitehat SEO is a Joke." He was upfront about the fact that it was intentionally provocative, not entirely truthful and more sensational than authentic. Despite these caveats, I think a response and some clarification about my thoughts on black hat in general are in order. I'm responding less because I think Kris believes it and more because of the surprisingly supportive response his post received in parts of the search community.

Some Points on Kris' Post:

Kris begins his article with a personal realization:

"... I started realizing there were only really 2 kinds of white-hats. The ones complaining about how they were doing everything by the book and getting their asses handed to them by “unethical tactics”, and the ones that were claiming success that didn’t belong to them... because they... happened to be in a niche that bloggers find interesting or entertaining..."
"It’s easy to preach great content when you have a great subject. But no one gives a shit about non-clog toilets or pulse oximeters or single phase diode bridge rectifiers. Sure you might be able to piece together 1 or 2 bits of link-bait but you can be sure that you aren’t going to get the anchor text that you want."
Kris' premise seems compelling and even has elements of truth (great content does work better in fields where there's more interest from web-savvy site owners), but on the whole, it's a lie. That lie - that "great content" doesn't work in boring niches - is one told out of laziness, jealousy and contempt. It's told by spammers to other spammers because it glosses over the fact that white-hat, legitimate marketing can work well in ANY field, for any site.

How about some examples, you ask? Happy to:

Ready for Zero

Here's Ready for Zero. It's a Y-Combinator backed startup tackling the horrifically spammy and, worse-than-boring, field of credit card debt relief. They don't rank yet (as they've just launched), but if they invest in SEO, they will. They have content - in this case a great team, great story, great investors and the right product - to earn all the links they'll need. If I were an SEO consultant for a company seeking rankings for debt relief type searches, that's exactly the "great content" I'd recommend.

Here's one that does rank - Oyster Hotel Reviews. Today, they're on the first page for nearly every hotel they've covered, and in position 5 for the massively competitive phrase "hotel reviews" (and they're the best result in the SERPs).
Another that ranks - Pods Moving Company. It's not the most exciting site in the world, but it's a good idea with good marketing and it's on the first page for "moving company," another incredibly competitive result. And guess what? No links from bloggers, either (nor any black/gray hat links I could find).
Speaking of not exciting but white hat and "great content," here's Ron Hazelton's DIY Home Improvement. A mini-celebrity thanks to a home repair-focused TV show, his site isn't exactly drawing in the Linkerati, but he markets it well and his stuff is good, so when you do searches like 'toilet replacement' Ron's site is #1.
Slightly less boring, but more competitive and equally un-blogger friendly is the world of business invoicing and bill paying. Yet, the gang at Freshbooks is kicking butt and taking page 1 rankings all over the place.

Sound effects are another unlikely arena for building a big SEO success story, but despite avoiding every black hat tactic leveraged by the typical ringtone spammers, Seattle-based has kicked serious butt here. They generate millions of visits from more than 750K keyword phrases each month, and they've built a serious brand in an industry rife with manipulation.

Kris specifically called out bridge rectifiers as being an impossibly boring industry, yet here's AllAboutCircuits, who shows up on page one for virtually every diode-related search. There's nothing fancy there, either - it's just great content, like this one on rectifier circuits. The illustrations are detailed, the content is awesome and they follow an almost-Wikipedia-like model to get contributors, many of whom link back.

I try hard, in my writing, my presentations and my professional contributions to this industry to be warm, generous and understanding. But, black hats telling the world that they turned their back on white hat because it's impossible is a load of crap, and I'm not feeling very empathetic toward that viewpoint.

Yes, white hat SEO, particularly in boring industries for non-established sites is a tremendous challenge. It requires immense creativity, huge quantities of elbow grease and a lot of patience, too. Black hat takes some creativity sometimes, but often it's about finding or learning the tactic Google + Bing haven't caught up to and applying it over and over until it burns down your site and you have to find another. Black hat is fundamentally interesting and often amazingly entertaining, much in the same vein as movies and TV shows featuring clever bank robbers. But a statement like this has no legs to stand on:

"... the longer I practiced and studied greyhat, the more annoyed I got with the piss poor advice and absolute falsehoods I saw being doled out by so called SEO experts to newbie’s who had no way of knowing that the advice they were soaking up was going to keep them at the back of the search engine results pages (serps) for the foreseeable future. Whitehat isn’t just a bit slower. It’s wishful thinking. It’s fucking irresponsible."

Thankfully, it's easy to refute Kris' points with hard, substantive examples (something his post doesn't do at all).

Simply Hired

Job searches are among the most challenging, competitive results in the SERPs. Back in 2008 (when we still had a consulting practice), we worked with the crew at Simply Hired to set up a long term strategy to win. It involved a syndication strategy with smart linking and anchor text, embeddable widgets, a search-friendly, crawlable site, a data-rich blog and a massive online brand building campaign, too. After 6 months, Simply Hired had improved rankings and traffic, but they certainly weren't #1 across the board. Today, however, I'm incredibly proud of their progress and I continue to stay in touch with their team and help out informally when/where I can. They're on page 1 for "job search," they rank for hundreds of thousands of job title + geo combinations and thanks to SEO (and dozens of other successful marketing + sales programs) they're poised to be industry leaders in a massive market.

Simply Hired

These strategies that worked for Simply Hired (and worked for other former SEOmoz clients like Yelp, Etsy and Zillow) aren't some dark secret, either. I wrote a lengthy blog post explaining the process in depth in a post called Ranking for Keyword + Cityname in Multiple Geographies. And I'm not alone, blogs like those from SearchEngineLand, SEOBook, Distilled and all of these others give tremendously valuable advice day after day.

I think Kris owes us some examples of "piss poor advice and absolute falsehoods" being "doled out by so called SEO experts." I'll agree that there's some bad advice floating around the SEO world, and I'll even admit to giving some myself (remember when I thought XML Sitemaps were a bad idea?), but that's a bold statement to make without any evidence.

Unfortunately, this next statement can't be written off so easily:

"If you are charging your clients for service and not being competitive then you are ripping off your clients. It’s as simple as that. I know you whitehats are squirming in your seat right now shaking your little fists and saying, “It’s not sustainable. Our strategy is based around long term results!”. No, it’s not. Your strategy is based around wishful thinking and hoping that someday Google will do your job for you so you don’t have to. Until Google starts enforcing the rules, there aren’t any. And as long as that is true anyone who is not waiting around for them to be enforced is going to rank. Anyone who does wait around won’t. You have an obligation to your clients to do everything in your power to rank their sites using the most effective methods currently available to you."

He's dead wrong on the false choice between either being black hat or "not using the most effective methods." A tax advisor that recommends quasi-legal, high-risk shelters might be using "the most effective methods," to protect wealth, but that doesn't make his more responsible peers obligation-dodging sissies. Search marketers, whether in-house or consultant DO have an obligation, in my opinion, to know and understand the full spectrum of tactics, white hat or black, but we also carry the same responsibility as any other professional with specialized knowledge: to recommend the right strategy for the situation.

Unless your manager/company/client is wholly comfortable with the high, variable risk that comes with black hat SEO, you'd better stay clear. I'm also of the mind that there's almost nothing black hat can accomplish that white hat can't do better over the long run, while building far more value. Unless it's "I want to rank in the top 5 for 'buy viagra' in the next 7 days," you'd better explain that you're recommending black hat primarily because you're not smart, talented and creative enough to find a white hat strategy to do it.

But, Kris makes a fair point with regards to Google (and Bing as well). The engines are not doing enough to stop spam + manipulation from black hat tactics. And, for as long as they fail on this front, there will be those seduced by Kris' viewpoint (Kris himself used to be quite white hat). To be fair, they've done a good job on several fronts recently - pushing down low quality content farms in the Panda/Farmer update, making original content rank better, and putting more high quality brands in the SERPs (even if they're not doing perfect SEO).

The biggest problem currently (IMO) are manipulative, black hat links through paid sources, automated link drops, reciprocal spam, article "spinning" (possibly my least favorite tactic on the rise), low quality directories, link "rings," etc. There's not a lot of truly new types of black hat link manipulation, but the old ones are, tragically, working again in a lot of niches. I hope that's next on Google's + Bing's radars. If it is, a lot of black hats are going to have some painful times, but I think that's the only way to solve the problems webspam creates. One of my favorite parts of being a white hat is cheering for the search quality teams rather than against them, and getting that little bump in traffic every time they improve the quality of their algorithms.

Black Hat ≠ SEO

The last point of Kris' I'll tackle revolves around the jobs an SEO performs:

"If your main offering is quality content – YOU ARE NOT AN SEO, You are a writer. If you are billing your client SEO prices for writing services you are ripping them off. If you didn’t go to college for or otherwise study writing and literature and you are offering writing services to your client rather than advising them to hire someone who actually specializes and is trained in writing, you are ripping them off.
With the exception of very large sites, most onsite optimization opportunities can be identified and charted in an audit in a matter of a few days. Implementation in most cases won’t take very long either and doesn’t even really need to be conducted by an SEO if the audit is written up properly. What does that leave; content strategy and off-site SEO. The content strategy is just that… a STRATEGY, which can be handed off to a competent writer. If you are still charging your client after this point and you aren’t competing with all the tools available and you aren’t advising them of someone else who could or would, then you are doing your client a disservice."

These are ludicrous statements, but I think Kris realizes it and is simply using them to generate controversy. Anyone who honestly believes that the extent of an SEO's job is to develop content strategies, audit for on-page SEO and build links has never done the job professionally.

I wrote a blog post back in 2007 highlighting why SEO is so hard. In it, I talked about the massive quantity of things that affect SEO and that number has only grown. Today, a responsible SEO needs to be thinking about:

The business' overall product, marketing and sales strategy and where SEO makes the most sense.

Keyword research + targeting (a process that requires tools, patience, intuition, testing and experience)

Funnel optimization (CRO has both direct and indirect SEO impacts these days)
Testing + optimizing content for users (time on site, bounce rate, engagement, etc. all matter directly + indirectly, too)

Content strategy (which ties into overall business strategy at the highest levels)
On-page optimization (black hats were actually some of the earliest to notice that Google's gotten so much smarter about on-page analysis than just keyword use and repetition, so I'm sure Kris knows how in-depth this process can be)
Making the site search-engine friendly (a complex project even on many simple sites as features like faceted navigation, AJAX crawling, different treatment of Javascript/Flash and many, many more now exist)

XML Sitemaps (we recently gave a 90 minute webinar on this topic that generated dozens of questions; it's no fire-and-forget tactic)
Analytics - visitor monitoring is just the start, there's webmaster tools, link monitoring, brand/mention alerts, social media tracking and more
Alternative search listings (local/maps/places, video, images, news, blogs, shopping, etc. Just one of these can be a full-time job.)
Usability + user experience issues (since these can have a huge indirect and possibly direct impact on rankings)

Reputation tracking + management

Competitive research

Social media marketing (FB shares are the most highly correlated metric we found to Google's rankings. No SEO can afford to ignore social today, and that's a massive strategic and tactical undertaking)
Syndication, scraping, copyright and duplicate content issues
And hundreds of others.

If Kris thinks pounding links at a page until it ranks is the majority of his SEO responsibilities, I'm worried (Note: I don't actually believe that; I've met Kris and he's a very smart guy. Instead, I suspect significant hyperbole went into his writing). If anyone out there tells you this is how they're going to do SEO, you'd better make sure they're either a highly specialized contractor or find another provider who can help think holistically about all of the above.

Why We Can't Ignore Black Hat Entirely

Last week, I was in Munich keynoting SMX and spent some time with a retiring black hat, Bob Rains (who's moving to the White Hat world and joining TandlerDoerje in Germany). Bob and I were on a panel discussing some black hat social media tactics. In particular, Bob mentioned a tactic wherein he'd build Twitter + Facebook profiles for racehorses that would garner thousands of followers by making the profiles seem "more real than real" and even pretending to be "official" Twitter accounts for the horses. On gameday, he could then tweet/share a link to his gambling site to place bets on the horses, netting him big affiliate payouts.

SMX Munich Panel
Marcus Tandler, Mikkel deMib, Johannes Beus, Bob Rains and Rand at SMX Munich 
(Note: You can listen to the full panel, a mix of German + English, here)

To do this manipulative work, though, Bob had to work incredibly hard to have real conversations on these social sites, upload photos from events, tweet interesting stats and experiences that could be verified. In other words... He's building great content!

My recommendation was simple - just call the account a "fan page" and suddenly, you're 100% white hat. You're building a great social profile; why not make it something Twitter/Facebook won't shut down if they get word of it from the real owners? Why not go one extra step, remove the "official" title and BE white hat! Yes, you might have a slightly harder time building up the profiles, but they'll last forever! You can sleep at night!

I highlight this story because it perfectly illustrates how close black and white hat marketing often are. It also shows why I love talking to black hats and learning from them. There's almost always a way to take the knowledge and experiences from black hats (the best of whom, like Bob, are often massively creative) and apply it in white hat ways.

Three weeks prior, in London and then New Orleans, Distilled hosted a one-day intensive seminar on link building. One of the talks at each event was called "Lessons from the Dark Side: What White Hats can Learn from Black Hat SEO." Two presenters, Martin Macdonald (in London) and Kris Roadruck (in NOLA), gave talks about their experiences with webspam's effectiveness, limitations and takeaways. I thought both presentations were excellent - they clearly indicated the danger of black hat SEO (Kris' deck started with almost a dozen slides about how + why not to do what he showed), but didn't pull any punches in showing the ups and downs of a spammer's life.

SEOs have a responsibility to understand and appreciate how and why black hat SEO operates. It's certainly not the first or most important step in an SEO education, but it's part of being a true professional. No one who does IT consulting would neglect to understand hacking + malicious attacks. No one who does public relations avoids studying the manipulative parts of their field. Even in industries like construction and contracting, it pays to understand how, why and when shoddy work and cut corners happen. So too must professional, white hat SEOs know the range of tactics at play in our field.

A few months back, I answered a related question on Quora:

Spam Techniques on Quora

Knowing more about each of those practices listed can make you a better SEO. I'm not someone who pretends to have great expertise in this field, but every time I hear a black hat share a successful tactic (that isn't illegal or just drive-by spam), I learn something and am often able to come up with a way to leverage the same effect in a white hat way.

Why White Hat is Always Better

There's very few things in the world that I perceive as wholly black + white. Spamming the search engines vs. authentic, organic marketing, however, is one of them.

It's my opinion that for real brands and real businesses, the choice of going 100% white hat will pay massive dividends every time. Here's why:

There's always a better way to spend that time + money. Spam isn't free or easy, despite the image some black hats portray. When I hear about the actual costs and time commitments black hats invest, I'm blown away. For not much more time, and often less money, those same businesses and sites could invest in long-term, high value white hat tactics. Many just lack the creativity and willingness to do the hard work, others are seduced by the quick win or ignorant of the options available to them.

White hat builds exciting companies, spam doesn't. With a very small number of exceptions, spam doesn't build exciting, scalable, long-term companies. It creates relatively small amounts of temporary wealth. If you're unwilling to trade short term gains for long term success, you're probably hurting the online ecosystem - none of us should endorse that behavior.

White hat rankings can be shared. That means never having to sweat hiding dirty secrets, protecting your tactics or link sources, jumping through hoops to keep your footprint anonymous or refraining from showing off your site. The benefits of transparency improve your ability to do PR, branding, networking and all of those, in turn, help SEO.

Spam always carries risk. Whether it's tomorrow, next month or 3 years from now before you're knocked out of the search engines, it will happen. You can invest in multiple sites and tactics, shore up defenses and build anonymity to hide your online profile, but honestly, if you applied that creativity and effort to white hat.... Just saying.
You're renting rankings rather than buying them. Devaluation of spam tactics means you have to stay one step ahead of the engines, and can never spend a week free from sweating what will and won't be found. White hat may take longer, but, if done right, it can build an unassailable position of strength long term.

Reliability in the spam world sucks. The people who sell spammy links or offer spam services are nearly always fly-by-night operations, moving from one business model to the next. Spammers are almost never long-term operators.
Any victory is a hollow one. I don't just mean in a touchy-feely way, I mean that no matter how many times you rank well with spam or how much you make, it's just money (and often far too little to sustain you, meaning you've got to go do more tomorrow). You're not building something real, long-lasting and sustainable and you're rarely fulfilling any of the other requirements for job satisfaction or happiness.

The money's not that good. Ask yourself who the most prolific, talented, high profile spammers are in the world. I can name a good dozen or so and none of them are retired, only a few are millionaires and not a one, to my knowledge, has done 8 figures (excluding a few truly dark hatted individuals who've earned their money from porn empires or illegal activities).

There is legal danger. I hesitate to bring this up because some folks in the search sphere have over-emphasized this danger. However, the FTC, the British government and the EU all have regulations about disclosure of interests, and a lot of link buying and link spamming behavior violates these guidelines. We've yet to see serious enforcement, but personally, I have no tolerance for risk of this kind, and I suspect many others don't either.

Spam never builds value in multiple channels. What I love about the inbound/organic marketing philosophy is how it builds a site that attracts authentic traffic from hundreds of sources, often without any additional work. Spamming your way to a #1 ranking might send search traffic, but if the web shifts to Facebook/Twitter or if email marketing becomes the biggest tactic in your niche, or if a competitor wins purely on branding and branded search, you're up a creek. You've built nothing of real value - nothing to make people come back and share and like, +1, tweet, link, email, stumble, vote for, shout to the heavens about. Spam builds a shell of a marketing strategy; one crack and it's all over.

The graphics below were in a slide presentation I made, but they're worth repeating here:

Who ranks #1 for "online dating?" It's not a black hat, but a site that found a genius way to become a content and media hub, OKCupid. How about "buy shoes online," one of the top converting terms in the apparel industry. It's Zappos, a brand that's put customer service, great product and a unique business model part of their SEO (big props to Adam Audette, who's made them a shining star in the SEO e-commerce world). Or "real estate values," an incredibly competitive term that's only risen in popularity with the market crisis? It's Zillow. Or "travel blog site," where some brilliant viral marketing earned Travelpod the top position. Or "art prints," where Benchmark-backed outranks even the exact match domain.

I could go on and on and on. The sites that people WANT to click on in the results. The ones that make searchers, technologists, marketers and search quality engineers happy are sites that deserve to rank. When you build a brand that does that and optimize in a way that no webspam engineer would ever want to discount, you've built a true competitive advantage in SEO. Black hat is, much of the time, a sad excuse for a lack of creativity, discipline and willingness to invest in the long term.

Here's to hoping the SEO industry continues to grow, flourish and attract brilliant, creative minds. Over the past 9 years of my career in the field, I've seen great progress, but not enough. I can promise that I, SEOmoz and our partners are going to do everything in our power to bring greater legitimacy, value and economic opportunity to the field of search + inbound marketing. It's a fight I look forward to every day.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments about why you're a white hat, and if you do it, what success you've had (and feel free to link to your site).

p.s. I put out a call on Twitter for great white hat sites ranking for competitive phrases and received some terrific responses:

Online budget app, Budget Simple has a well-designed site and top 3 rankings for "online budget" and "free online budget," competing against the likes of Mint and Intuit.

Mini Mave in Denmark has legendary SEO Mikkel deMib as a partner and top rankings for competitive terms like "Gravid" (Danish for "pregnant"). Last year, they recorded over a million keywords sending many millions of visits to the site.
TPMS maker, Orange Electronic has only been around for a few months, but is already ranking for electronic tire pressure monitoring systems and the common acronym TPMS off some great, authentic links from press, media and government sources.

Science equipment supplier Edmunds has a great site with links that rock and a brand that's trusted throughout the community. Their rankings for hyper-competitive searches like "science equipment" and "scientific supplies" along with a massive long-tail presence show the power of white hat in e-commerce niches.
Online appliance retailer 8Appliances just started their online marketing, but they've already had success, earning more than 50,000 search visits monthly from top 10 rankings for queries like "miele kitchen appliances" (in Google Australia).

Mexican-focused travel site JourneyMexico has been having a lots of success in niche search results like "cultural travel mexico" and with their awesome blog.
White hat can be done, even in boring industries or for competitive queries. Anyone who says otherwise isn't telling the truth.

By: Rand Fishkin

7 White Hat SEO Techniques to Double Traffic in 2017

The Google algorithm incorporates hundreds, if not thousands, of signals when determining where pages rank for a search. Knowing which factors carry the most weight and optimizing accordingly can be the difference between success and failure. This post will concentrate on areas that, in my experience, deliver positive results and a big return on investment.

Mobile First

I first started promoting a “mobile first” approach to SEO back in March of 2015, when I dubbed Google’s pending mobile update “Mobilegeddon”. The name caught on, but the April 21, 2015, update didn’t create as big an upheaval as expected. It did, however, put everyone on notice, that mobile was here and no longer “the future”. Those who did not heed the warning to go mobile will soon be paying the price.

Google is now doubling down on mobile, giving notice that “after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.” In other words, the Google index is going mobile first and if you don’t have a mobile-friendly page, then you will likely take a hit in the SERPs. That’s especially true for websites using intrusive interstitial ads. If you aren’t certain as to whether your website meets the criteria for being mobile friendly, log in to your Search Console account and view the Mobile Usability Report. Google will report mobile issues there, so you can take the appropriate action.

7 White Hat SEO Techniques to Double Traffic in 2017 | SEJ

On a related note, keep close tabs on Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). This open source initiative relies on AMP HTML, which promises “instant” loading—a real benefit on mobile devices. Google has been pushing this hard, but early reviews are mixed.  Unless you have a news site, I’m not ready to recommend jumping on the AMP bandwagon just yet.

Mobile is Local – Claim Your Business Listing
Mobile search and local search are inextricably intertwined. Per The Mobile Playbook, 20% of ALL searches have local intent. Of smartphone users:

94% search for location information
51% visited a store
48% called a store
29% made a purchase

As Google continues to improve its ability to deliver hyper-local results, it is critically important to have complete and accurate data in one’s Google My Business profile. This continues to be an easy win, as less than half of all businesses have claimed their business listing.

Focus on User Experience (UX)

Google has always encouraged webmasters to make their primary focus one of providing a good user experience. As the algorithm gets “smarter”, websites that do so are positioned to benefit the most. A good user experience goes much deeper than writing clean code.

According to this study from the Oxford Journal, “The goal of UX design in business is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.” For our purposes, your website is the product. The objective is to first determine a user’s intent, then develop a methodology for smooth navigation—a methodology that evokes a positive emotion and leads to an overall good experience.

Incorporating UX best practices is easy. The web is filled with templates and advice. What separates the pros from the amateurs is A/B testing. Each one of us has our own biases that will influence how a web page is constructed. By running a series of  experiments, you will be able to quantify what is working, what isn’t, and continue testing until you get it right.

Keyword Research

That’s right—keyword research is still important in 2017. With Google providing less KW data all the time, two of the largest SEO tool providers, Moz and Ahrefs, have developed and improved KW tools hoping to fill the void. However, the way one goes about performing and using the results from KW research in 2017 has changed, thanks to RankBrain.

At its core, RankBrain is machine learning. This allows Google to put things in context rather than rely solely on strings of metadata. Google now understands language nuances like stemming, synonyms, and answers.

The new generation of keyword tools takes this into consideration by creating things like Parent Topics and Keyword Groups. Armed with this information, users can develop content that incorporates a series of contextually relevant phrases. Just be smart about it and avoid the temptation to stuff every variation of a phrase found in a KW batch onto a page.

Have a Content Marketing Plan That’s Better Than Your Competitors
According to The Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2C study, only 37% of respondents believe they are effective at content marketing. Since content is one of the top two Google ranking factors, it’s pretty important to get it right. Once again, this presents a huge opportunity for those willing to invest the time to make that happen.

Everyone talks about creating “great content”, but what does that even mean? It really comes down to having useful content, finding the right audience, and then reaching that audience. This doesn’t have to be a difficult exercise. It boils down to having empathy with your prospects and customers. Ann Handley created the following formula to sum it up:

Useful x Enjoyable x Inspired = Innovative Content
Keep in mind “conversational” search queries. As of July 2015, over 30% of all searches returned rich answers. Many of these answers were in response to “who, what, when, where, why, and how” queries. While it’s great to appear in position 0 and garner the traffic associated with it, the benefit is usually short lived. The churn rate for rich answers exceeds 55%.

More importantly, I suspect the conversational search/rich answers technology is being applied to voice search. Voice is the fastest growing type of search; 55% of teens and 41% of adults already use voice search daily. As devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home gain market share, I would expect the pace of voice search to grow exponentially.

Editor Note: Here are 10 FREE content marketing tools that you may find useful in developing your own epic content plan.

Use Schema for a Competitive Edge
In 2014 (the most recent data available), Searchmetrics reported that over a third of Google search results incorporated Rich Snippets supported by Schema, but only 0.3% of websites were making use of the Google-approved Schema tool. I suspect that percentage has improved over that past couple of years, but the opportunity to use Schema as a competitive edge is still huge.

Schema, found at, is a collection of different HTML tags that can be added to a Web page. These tags create an enhanced description that appears in search results (commonly known as rich snippets). Schema is commonly used to create Rich Snippets for Organizations, Events, Music, People, Products, Recipes, Review Ratings, and Videos.

Primary Benefits Derived from Using Schema
Rich snippets can be helpful to users and make search results stand out.
Schema makes it easier for search engines to understand a page.
Microdata can improve click-through rates.

Link Building

The day may come when links are less important to rankings, but that day hasn’t arrived yet. If you ignore one of the top two ranking factors, you’re really doing yourself a disservice. The key is to get the right kinds of links. Links that have relevance to your site. Links that require a human editorial review. The kinds of links that are earned.

My favorite approach to earning relevant links is to build a resource center. A resource center can work on just about any kind of website. In addition to attracting links, a good resource center helps to build trust and authority. Read my step by step plan for developing a resource center that attracts links and boosts rankings here on SEJ.

The bottom line is you don’t have to manage thousands or even 200 ranking signals in order to significantly increase organic traffic. Just focus on the areas mentioned above. If you do, it’s entirely possible to double, triple, or even 10X the traffic coming to your website in 2017.

Have some thoughts or questions? Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook & let’s talk about it!

Chuck Price

Top 5 White Hat and Black Hat Search Optimisation Techniques

Search engine optimisation, as with all things in life has a good, wholesome, fair and right way of doing things and a bad, unfair, downright naughty way of doing things. To describe the two SEO methodologies the terms “White Hat” and “Black Hat” SEO were coined.

We sit very firmly in the white hat camp believing that while black hat SEO techniques might have some short term positive effect, the long term implications can be disastrous for your website and in turn your business.

In this article we’ll examine the top 5 black hat SEO techniques in a bid to help you determine whether the SEO firm you’re currently using are potentially compromising your business website. Then we’ll examine the top 5 white hat SEO techniques that we believe will have a positive effect on your search position without putting your business website at risk.


1. Hidden Content

Top of our list of black hat SEO techniques is hidden content. Hidden content comes in many guises but the basic principle is that within the code for the site there will be content stuffed with keywords, this content will not be visible to the end user of the site.

One way of doing this is by using comment tags.

Comment tags look like this;

<!– Comment Tag –>

The real purpose of comment tags is for developers to add in useful reminders within their code explaining what that piece of code does.

Here’s an example of the comment tag being used correctly,

<!– Start of the Main Content –>

Here’s an example of a comment tag being used incorrectly in a bid to promote a hypothetical page targeting search engine optimisation,

<!—Search engine optimisation, SEO, professional search engine optimisation company, spamming search engines –->

Another popular way of hiding content is the use of the <noscript> tag. The <noscript> tag should be used to inform a user that a script is being used but their browser either doesn’t support the script

language used or they have that function turned off.

Here’s an example of the <noscript> tag being used correctly,

&ltscript type=”text/javascript”>

<!– document.write(“Hello World!”) //–>

</script><br />

<noscript>Your browser does not support JavaScript!</noscript>

Here’s an example of the <noscript> tag being used as a black hat SEO technique again in a bid to promote a hypothetical page but this time targeting car hire,


Imaginary Car Hire Firm do Car Hire which is very affordable so if you want to hire a car call our car hire firm because we are the best car hire firm in the world


Other HMTL tags misused in similar ways include the <noframes> tag and hidden inputs in forms.

Content can also be hidden from the end user by using CSS, excessively small text and coloured text on the same coloured background.

All of these techniques are frowned upon by search engines and if detected can mean your website will be penalised or even banned. To the untrained eye it can be very difficult to spot the use of some of these techniques which is why we offer a free website MOT test at PushON.

2. Meta Keyword Stuffing

There are two Meta tags that are generally used to inform search engines of the content on the page. They reside between the <head> tag of a page and when used incorrectly they can alert a search engine that a site is using spam techniques in an attempt to improve its ranking.

Meta Description

The meta description should be used to describe the content of your page honestly and concisely and be 1 or 2 sentences, 3 at most.

Here’s an example of the meta description being used in the correct manner,

<meta name=”description” content=”PushON are an Online Marketing agency providing a full range of digital marketing services throughout Greater Manchester and the North West UK. If you need Search Engine marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Pay per Click (PPC), we can help you. Contact us now.” />

Here’s an example of the meta description tag being used incorrectly for a page promoting a restaurant called “MadeUp”,

<meta name=”description” content=”MadeUp restaurant website is the best MadeUp restaurant website, our restaurant is better than any restaurant,great restaurant,best food restaurant,visit our restaurant” />

3. Meta Keywords

Meta Keywords should be a short list of words that inform of the main focus of the page. Meta keywords have been so misused in the past that there are few if any search engines that take any heed of them.

Here’s an example of the meta keywords being used in the correct manner,

<meta name=”Keywords” content=”Online marketing, digital marketing, search marketing, search engine marketing, e-mail marketing, SEO” />

Here’s an example of the meta keywords tag being used incorrectly for a page promoting a restaurant called “MadeUp”,

<meta name=”keywords” content=”Restaurant,restaurants,food,feed,take away food,fast food,junk food,eat,eating out,dinner,dining,meal,eating,MadeUp,steak and chips,chicken and chips,pie and chips,pudding,desert,big restaurant,small restaurant,best restaurant,great restaurant, exclusive restaurant,cocktails,wine,drink,pizza,sandwhiches”>

4. Doorway or Gateway Pages

Doorway or Gateway pages are pages designed for search engines and not for the end user. They are basically fake pages that are stuffed with content and highly optimised for 1 or 2 keywords that link to a target or landing page. The end user never sees these pages because they are automatically redirected to the target page.

Off-the-shelf SEO software often encourages the use of gateway pages as do SEO firms that don’t know what they’re talking about. Search engine spiders are being enhanced continually to detect these pages and will get ignored or worse still, flag your site up as being spam and ban you all together.

5. Link Farming

In the real world if you were to build your house in a bad neighbour hood then your house would be affected by its surroundings. The same is true of the virtual world. Link farms or free for all (FFA) pages have no other purposes than to list links of unrelated websites. They won’t provide you with any traffic and you run the risk of having your site banned for participating. Don’t participate in link farming.


1. Quality Content

When we first started looking at SEO as a separate entity to website build there was one phrase that we would continually hear, “content is King”, and it’s true. There is nothing more valuable you can do to optimise your site for search engines than offer unique well written content. A search engines aim is to serve up what it believes to be the most appropriate website for any given search to the end user.

Imagine we are the end user and we are searching for a portable air conditioner for hire. We go to our favourite search engine and search for the phrase “portable air conditioner hire”. In this imaginary scenario let’s assume there are only 2 websites that target that phrase,

Website 1

Website 1 consists of a single page with 3 paragraphs of text. The text tells us that the company does portable air conditioning hire and give us a phone number to call.

Website 2

Website 2 contains 30 plus pages all focusing on various portable air conditioning units that we can hire, costs and technical explanations of how portable air conditioning units work.

Which website do you think the search engine is likely to offer to the user first? It’s a rather obvious example but it illustrates the importance of good content so your priority should be good quality content.

2. Use Structural (Semantic) Mark Up and Separate Content from Presentation

Semantically structuring your mark up helps search engines understand the content of your webpage which is of course a good thing. Making proper use of heading elements is essential because search engines give more weight

to the content within the heading elements.

Using CSS to separate the design elements from the content makes for much leaner code and makes it easier for search engines to find what they’re looking for, which is content. Remember content is king!

3. Titles and Meta Data

Providing pages with proper titles and meta data is essential. As discussed in the top 5 black hat SEO techniques section the meta description and meta keywords elements have been so misused in the past that Search

Engines now regard them as less important, it’s still important to use them and use them properly. Titles however still carry a lot of weight and when we think of semantic mark up it is obvious why. The title of anything is a declaration as to what the content might be, so make sure your page titles are a true representation of the content of the page.

4. Keyword Research and Effective Keyword Use

Create your website with keywords and key phrases in mind. Research keywords and key phrases you think people might use to find your site. Single words are not always the most effective target, try multi-word phrases that are much more specific to your product/service and you’ll be targeting end users that are much more likely to want what you are offering.

Use the keywords and key phrases you’ve identified effectively throughout your website. Assign each page 2-3 of the keywords you’ve identified and use the keywords throughout all the important elements of the page. Those are,

Meta Description
Meta Keywords
Heading Elements
Alt Tag
Title Tag

5. Quality Inbound Links

Having inbound links to your website can be likened to having a vote for the good but there are good links and bad links so therefore votes for the good and votes that are bad. Good links are links from other web pages that are regarded highly by the search engines and are contextually relevant to the content of your page. Bad links are links from web pages that aren’t regarded highly or potentially banned by search engines and have no relevance to the content of your page.

For example;

Imagine we have a website that sells telephones.

Link A: Link on the homepage of the British Telecoms website. = Good

Link B: Link on John Smiths Beer and Ale appreciation links page = Bad

The amount of quality inbound links to your site therefore have some relevance on how high up the search engine your site is placed. When sourcing links you should be thinking of quality over quantity and deep linking to pages within your website not just the home page.

THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work
THE WHITE HAT SEO amazing and how to work

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