As an above-the-board white hat SEO, you don’t get to polish your badge every morning. You don’t get nickel-plated six-shooters. And you don’t get a pair of spurs.
But you can rest assured that all is well in the land of Google for your website. You won’t have any drops in ranking you intentionally created. And you’ll be able to sleep well at night knowing that if anything happens, it’s all Google’s fault.
But what does it mean to be a white hat SEO? How do you ensure your efforts are in line with Google’s policies?
Below you’ll find a few white hat SEO techniques that will increase the likelihood you won’t get a penalty from Google.
1. Focus on UX
SEOs tend to obsess over everything but user experience. And it’s a backward way to approach SEO.
Google, on the other hand, wants their users to have a great experience online. If the search results they provide don’t lead to a great experience, they’re failing at their job.
Thus, Google created a few filters to weed out bad user experience. And they don’t just detect junk code, but things like poor loading times, bounce-rates, etc.
To do this, you must first figure out what the user wants. This is called intent. Then you must figure out how to create navigational paths through your site that satisfy this intent.
After creating a user experience plan, you must test your site with actual users. Find a set of friends who would be willing to spend 20 minutes browsing through your site.
Give them tasks. If you run a storefront, ask them to “buy” something. If you run a blog, tell them to simply navigate from one blog to the next.
Then give them a quick survey.
2. Be Mobile
As an outdoorsman, I’m constantly frustrated with national and state land agencies. They build the worst websites sometimes. And then I’m constantly playing the “pinch and zoom” game with their sites cause they refuse to go mobile.
It’s tiresome, and my fingers get tired. Don’t tire out the fingers of your users.
This section could meld with user experience and it almost should go without saying, but you don’t know how often I come across non-mobile-friendly sites.
It makes your website seem out of date. And even if you have current information on your non-mobile-friendly site, I will still go looking for a date stamp somewhere to see if the information is current.
This has as much to do with SEO and ranking as it does with user experience and trust. If users don’t trust your site because it’s not mobile friendly and it feels out of date, how much more do you think Google will value your site?
They really won’t. Google has been doubling down on mobile for quite some time now because, guess what, Google makes and maintains a mobile operating system. They want people on mobile devices.
If you’re not mobile-friendly, your SERPs will tank. It’s that simple. Unless you’re the government, and for somereason that .gov domain protects them.
3. Schema For a Bonus
Google has an approved way of improving your HTML tags. It’s a Schema tool and seriously few people are actually making use of it.
It’s really simple to add HTML tags to your website. You simply go to Schema.org, nab the tags, and paste.
The tags you want will create an enhanced description in the search results. These are known as “Rich Snippets.”
These help users understand what kind of content they’re clicking on before they click. It can help your search result stand out. And if it stands out, gets more clicks, then Google might deign to rank you a bit higher.
Schema markup doesn’t just help users. It helps Google as well. It’s like putting a label on packed boxes for a moving company. They’ll know what’s inside the boxes and where to put them without having to go searching through your stuff.
4. Links, Links, and More Links
You might be yawning at this point. Links seem so old-hat by now. But us SEOs will never cease to harp on link-building until Google stops considering links (which will most likely be never).
The internet is a network, after all, and you’ve got to prove to Google you’re connected. Plus, if you’re not getting content linked back to, how do you know it’s even useful to anyone?
One of the best ways to get link-back is by building a small data-base of information on your site. Having a resource center for you niche will be highly useful for users as long as the content is fresh and up to date.
Anybody looking for specific information can quickly flip through your resources and link back to it in an article.
5. Claim Your Business Listing No Matter What
While we spend most of our time on the digital front, a physical location still sends a message of authenticity. Google lets anyone with a mailable physical address list their business.
You could use your home address and create a business listing on Google. And to boot, it makes you seem local. Google is going hyper-local and you might be able to improve your SERPs if you at least seem like a local business.
White hat SEO is really about organic results. Those who focus on white hat operate under the assumption that you can’t fool Google, so why not maximize with what’s above board.