“SEO is a ship that can sail your content across the world”
Search Engine Optimization has the most powerful weapons in the realm of the internet. If you are a blogger, content writer, digital marketer, online seller, or anyone worthwhile, then SEO is the most crucial thing for you because it leads you to the first page of search engines and results in a lot of traffic to your website.There is a popular saying – “Every coin has two faces“. SEO is no different. There are two ways to get your website and content ranked higher on search engines.
One is White Hat SEO (the ethical way) and
the other is Black Hat SEO (exploiting the weaknesses in search engine algorithm).
there is a third type too, that is kind of overlap between these two types,
But, let’s keep that for sometime later and focus on these two for today.
White Hat SEO (Following the Rules like a Good Kid)
White Hat SEO is basically doing things in accordance with guidelines from the search engines. Most experts have an opinion on what works in the SEO world, and what techniques fail to deliver. And this makes it tough to start for a novice. But, I can make it easy for you. Let me list a few guidelines and you can make a checklist and tick them off one by one. They might take time but the results are quite fruitful in the long run.
Quality of Content
“Content is the King”, Gary Vaynerchuk (famous influencer) has always been repeating this. And, believe it or not, the relevance of this sentence is never going to fade.If you are working hard and striving to deliver content that brings value to your readers, then they will respond positively to your content and that will improve your ranking. Think it this way, if people don’t want to read and share your content then why will the search engines take the pain of ranking your website higher?In Google’s ideal world, you will create content that is absolutely amazing that adheres to all of Google’s Guidelines, and people read it and share it like mad. This is the gist of white hat SEO. People often forget that they’re writing for their readers and not for pleasing search engines. Want to know more about how to write SEO-optimized content that ranks well? Here are some tips: How to write an Effective, Readable, SEO-Friendly Blog Article.
What you see vs. what Google (or any search engine, in general) sees is very different. Normal users don’t see the code but Google has to see your code in order to rank your website.
What To Do?
Google must be able to index your site in order to rank your website. It is a very good idea to use the Google Search Console to upload your sitemap and to see if they are having any issues crawling your site.
Build Quality Inbound Links
An inbound link (also known as a backlink) is a hyperlink on a third-party web-page that points to a web page on your site. But, it needs to be placed on the relevant website in order to be called “Quality Inbound Link“.Take this example into consideration, I have a website related to Educational content but I get inbound links from websites that fall into the category of child healthcare. Even if someone opens that website in sleep, they’ll never click and visit the educational website.
What To Do?
Collaborate with people of your niche and contribute to their work. Help them in their content and that’s how you can get inbound links in return. This is a two-way thing and that’s how you can get more inbound links.In order to get high-quality inbound links, your links must be placed on a highly ranked website. This can happen in only one way- by producing high-quality content.Write such valuable content that big brands are forced to feature you on their pages.
Organize Site Effectively
User experience plays a big role in the ranking of your website. User experience comes from a good site organization.
What To Do?
You need to organize your website properly in the way that proper things are placed at the proper place.For example, conveniently, the navigation menu needs to be at the top, the address of the office needs to be at the bottom, scroller needs to be on the right side, etc. How will it look if you open a website and at the top, you see the office address of organization? It will look absolutely ugly to me! However, Some people may have a different perspective.Get your website developed in such a way that it functions properly on both mobiles and desktops. Because a large user-base has shifted to mobile, your website needs to be mobile-friendly.
Black Hat SEO (Bad Boy’s Approach)
“Bend the rules only if you have learned them; break the rules only if you have mastered them.”But when it comes to SEO, you can’t bend or break the rules even if you know everything about them. That is because search engines often come up with frequent updates that fix the weaknesses of the older version of crawler and that will get you caught by the algorithm of search engine. Black hat SEO is all about breaking the established rules. And sure, it might work at first, depending on what method you are using, but it is more of a short-term strategy. Search engines have a pretty clear guideline of what you should not do. I will be listing a few techniques that are considered Black Hat SEO. Although a lot of them work really fewer newbies get stuck with them and suffer a lot.
This is one thing that I saw on a lot of websites when I started blogging. A lot of articles will suggest you put a lot of target keywords in your article in order to rank them higher but Google doesn’t look at your article that way. The crawler checks if the article is actually relevant for the audience or not. There is no exact number with regards to the percentage of keyword your content should contain. But ideally, 2-3% works just fine and doesn’t make your content look crappy.Keep in mind, “Feeding your baby too much may cause him Diarrhoea”
As I have told earlier, “Content is the King“, but what if you write quality content and someone else copies it bluntly and puts it on their website or maybe vice versa. Someone invented Ctrl+C & Ctrl+V; it is really easy to copy and paste someone else’s hard work, but the search engines keep track of the original creator of the content. That’s how they rank your content, the search engine might be duped for a while with the duplicate content but as they say in school, “Plagiarism is bad“, this is why it is so important to get unique content!
Spinning an article is like copying homework from a friend and changing it a bit. This is similar to stealing an article and just changing the words to synonyms making most of the new content unique. People use automatic programs to change words in an article (spinning) to create unique content, but the content doesn’t read very well and it is not at all unique.It is very important from the perspective of the readers as well as the search engines for your content to be READABLE. A Readability Test of your content before publishing it always seems like a good idea!
What Not To Do?
Spinning articles used to work earlier because search engines ranked the website higher when a lot of new content used to be generated on it. It would have similar keywords, similar meaning and it didn’t even matter to search engines during the time. But, now our search engine is too smart to be duped. So better create original content.
There are certain words that can help you rank fast on the search engines. So people add those words on their website and keep the color of their font similar to the background color to match them which makes it invisible to normal readers.
What Not To Do?
Don’t think you are tricking Google by making the text of certain words match the background of the website. In the distant past, this might have worked. The visitors on the websites didn’t see the masked text, but the search engines did. And, they would often end up ranking such websites. But Google quickly caught them.
Cloaking is a term used when there are different HTML pages visible to a visitor and search engine. Cloaking takes a user to other sites that he or she expects by disguising those sites’ true content. In this method, the search engine spider and the browser are presented with different content for the same web page. HTTP header information or IP addresses assist in sending the wrong web pages. Users will then be made to access websites that contain information they were not seeking in the first place, including pornographic sites. Here, both the search engine and the users are deceived because both of them are on different pages.
Gateway Page Redirection
Gateway page redirection is a filthy technique that leads the user to some undesired website after he clicks on your hyperlink. People create a certain page on their website with keywords that get them listed higher on search engines. Then they program the page in such a way that it automatically leads the user to a website that is completely unrelated to the user’s search term.
Selling and Farming Links
Because many search engines look at links to decide a web page’s relevancy, some webmasters buy links from other sites to boost a page’s rank.A link farm is like a family wherein all of them interlink with one another in order to increase each other’s value, their page’s rank. Small link farms seem pretty harmless, but some link farms include hundreds of web sites, each with a web page dedicated just to listing links to every other site in the farm.The consequences of engaging in link farming may be belittling to your website’s reputation. In case search engines detect a link farm or a link-selling scheme, they flag every site present in that network; all the sites involved are penalized by them. In certain cases, the search engines will simply demote the rank of every page associated or may ban all of them from being indexed any further.
Now, this is not exactly a Black hat SEO technique but it is more of an immoral practice. It is basically you buying bad links for your competitors so that their website gets low-ranked. That will surely hurt their ranking but you are wasting your own money and time in that as well. Initially, when Google started penalizing websites with bad backlinks, some people thought of an idea. “Why not buy low-quality links for our competitors?” This hurt their competitors’ reputation and they could enjoy their own ranks! But Google found it out soon and started ignoring bad links. Webmasters also have the option to disavow links that they feel are harming their ranks.These are the most common black hat techniques. While some of these worked in the past, and some may still work today if you know what you are doing, I really don’t recommend doing it.
To create an SEO plan that leads to real results, you can’t focus on just one group of ranking factors. There is a need to try out various methods and see what works best for you, which combination yields the best results. Cheating the system by employing black hat techniques will do no good in the long run and might result in a temporary increase in visitors, but since people normally don’t like to be fooled, the benefits are questionable at best. Who wants to return to a site that isn’t what it claims to be? If you are into this space, it is always better to try to focus on creating value for your readers, providing good content, making sure your on-page SEO is optimal and building online relationships. Good results come with time if you keep working towards your goal using only the fair means and not trying to cheat the system.
Abhishek Upadhyay is the Founder of Writers’ Mentor, a platform to learn about various aspects, tips, tricks, and guidelines of writing, blogging, and digital marketing. An avid Blogger and Content Marketer with proficiency in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Optimization (SMO), Abhishek has been writing extensively on these topics for various online publications and clients across the globe, often adding a pinch of humor and real-life analogies to connect instantly with the readers.