I have noticed that many marketers are of the opinion that both black hat and white hat SEO is a waste of time because Google changes the rules all the time.
But in actual fact it is only the people that engage in black hat SEO that risk getting their sites penalised, or de-indexed.
Whilst it is true that Google has made a lot of major changes to its algorithims in the last couple years, it is fairly easy to work out what is likely to get you penalised.
Google's primary purpose is to provide the best possible experience for its users, and to do this their aim is to provide results that only include high quality content that is relevant to the search.
So with this in mind webmasters need to engaging in activities that result in providing exactly what Google wants. And that is websites filled with quality content that people love, and keep coming back to. And to do this you need to thinking about white hat SEO for it to work.
Google does not want low quality, spammy websites dominating its search results and is doing everything within its power to rid these sorts of sites from the search results pages.
It is even going to the extreme and deindexing some websites that are going too far with bending the rules. Websites that are effectively selling links are being wiped out one by one.
Attempts to game the system such as buying or selling links, spam, spinning content, copying content and auto blogging are now history. And from a searchers perspective this is a good thing, because no one wants to visit sites that use these dodgy black hat methods – for the simple fact they are low quality sites.
Google is now a lot smarter than it used to be in the early pioneering days, and the point is that it is no longer worth trying to cheat the system by using black hat SEO – because you will lose.
So what should we be doing about it?
OK I know you have all heard this one before, and it is stating the bleeding obvious, but it is without doubt the most important of the lot.
Without the quality content there is no reason for people to visit your site, or to come back in the future.
High quality content that is relevant, interesting and on topic will always attract positive attention and will go viral by itself. Like they say at ThinkTraffic.net, write epic shit that really matters (if you have not read this post before, then it's highly recommended reading).
And as well as the content being high quality, you also need to be publishing it on a regular basis to keep the website fresh and to keep people interested.
Don't just write stuff that thousands of other blogs have already written about – express your unique opinions, thoughts and experiences through your content.
If you don't have the time, inspiration or motivation to be producing regular content by yourself, then it is a fantastic idea to actively be looking for other bloggers to write guest posts for you. This will be a lot easier if your site has a decent Page Rank, and you can therefore offer some link juice to the author.
Unfortunately most people are passive in this regard, and only go as far as putting up a page on their site asking people to guest post. Unless you have an established blog that is geting a lot of traffic this strategy usually has mediocre results.
Ideally you need to get the ball rolling by starting to actively find people that want to guest post on other blogs to actually make it happen.
Visit a guest posting forum site such as http://myblogguest.com/ and find articles to put on your site. You can find some excellent articles on this site, and all you need to do in return is show an author bio which usually includes some back links to the authors website.
I have used this strategy and was knocked out by how effective and easy it is. You are basically getting quality content for free, and have the option to knock back articles if they are poor quality or not a good fit for your site. In my opinion this is an awesome strategy to help you get regular high quality content onto your site.
Or you can do the reverse and submit an article you have written to http://myblogguest.com/ and have bloggers apply to publish your article. If you can find a publisher with a high Page Rank, you can easily get some good link juice and improve your rankings.
A lot of amateur bloggers are placing advertisements everywhere they possibly can in the hope of making a few dollars. These people are hardly getting any traffic for a start, and have wishful thinking.
The problem with too much advertising is that it detracts from the content, and puts people off. No one visits a website to look at the advertisements, and it is vital that your content is the main thing on the page. Google will penalise you for putting too much advertising on your site.
Some advertising is OK (particularly if it is put in the right places), but the point is that the advertising should not be getting in the way of your content, and become annoying. All this results in is a high bounce rate and very short page views.
And one last point on advertising, make sure it is relevant to your website. There is no point advertising property investment on a website about dog training (for obvious reasons).
Google really does love pages that include other forms of media to just plain text. In Google's eyes this improves the quality of the page, and is therefore ranked higher.
Images and video in particular are highly regarded additions to maximise the quality of the content. It is a great idea to make slides of your content and create a presentation where you talk about the main points of a blog post. If you optimize these videos properly you can rank them on the first page of Google and maximise your traffic.
And from a design point of view, pages that only feature text tend to look boring and bland. Images in particular make the page look much more interesting and attractive.
If you are not putting share buttons in visible places on your site, then you are really missing out on getting viral exposure.
There are a few different plugins that are very easy to install, my personal preference being the Digg Digg plugin which always floats on the left of my content.
More importantly Google takes a lot of notice of social signals, and the more votes, shares, likes, diggs or retweets you get the better.
The content on an authority bloggers site usually goes viral automatically from these share buttons, and it is a great way to drive extra traffic as well. Considering these plugins are free there is no excuse not to be using them.
For a blog to be really successful it is important to have as much social interaction as possible. The majority of the interaction is usually in the comment section at the bottom of the post. Googles will reward pages that have a lot of comments, simply because this is conclusive proof that the page is high quality.
Authority bloggers quite often get hundreds of comments to their blog posts, simply because they have built up a reputation and get a lot of traffic. The loyal readers visit these sites on a regular basis to read new posts that are published.
As a rule, you should always reply to all comments left on your blog and encourage as much conversation as possible, even if it is negative feedback.
This is a great way to interact with your readers and discuss different opinions and ideas. Quite often the most value on a blog post is in the comments section as readers agree or disagree with other comments made.
This point is basically an extension of the previous point, but it is crucial. This is where you can get an understanding of what problems your readers are experiencing and provides you with an opportunity to offer them solutions.
Your readers will be extremely grateful if you go to the effort of helping find solutions to problems they are experiencing.
And you can also think of this as a form of market research as well, as it will give you ideas for new blog post topics or information products that you may be able to create and profit from.
So if you can stick to these seven white hat SEO tactics you will never have to worry about what Google is up to, simply because you are on their side, and providing them exactly what they want – which is to provide the best possible experience for their users.
And on top of that you are also providing the best possible user experience for your readers as well, which is ultimately the most important job of a web master.
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