A long, long time ago, in a kingdom called SERP, an evil king called BlackHatSEO ruled over gentle website folk.
To cut a long story short… before the days when search engine algorithms had evolved to the present level, certain webmasters relied on attracting the attention of search engines by featuring keyword stuffed content on their websites, writing generic and useless articles which they then syndicated to hundreds of article directories, and performing other evil black hat SEO tactics.
Sure, they succeeded in temporarily getting the attention of search engines, but what was the real value that these techniques delivered to actual human beings who were looking for worthwhile information? Zero. Zilch. Nada. And did Google (and other search engines) like that they were being taken for a ride? No.
Search engine algorithm is constantly evolving and becoming more and more sophisticated every day. Google, Bing and Yahoo condemn and penalize unethical black hat techniques. With the recent Google Panda update, several previously highly ranked websites plummeted from their top spots straight to obscurity, simply because they had excessively relied on SEO techniques that did not have a prayer of succeeding long term.
Matt Cutts, the search quality champ of Google, says they do not consider SEO to be spam. It becomes spam or unethical and attracts penalties only when you take shortcuts such as hidden links, hidden text, cloaking etc. He adds that the best SEO is common sense – “making sure that a site’s architecture is crawlable, coming up with useful content or services that has the words that people search for, and looking for smart marketing angles so that people find out about your site (without trying to take shortcuts).”
That is what white hat SEO is all about – creating genuinely useful content, sharing information that has value, and marketing your business in such a way that it generates long-term results. With white hat SEO, you do not have to constantly look over your shoulder, terrified of the day when Google is going to come out with a new algorithm which will penalize you and kill your rankings. Google gives priority to genuinely useful information, and as long as you are in line with that philosophy, you don’t really have to fear anything.
According to Google quality guidelines, "Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit."
White hat SEO is sound long term online marketing strategy more than anything else. The following are some of the techniques that a white hat SEO may use to help their websites rank higher.
LSI – Latent Semantic Indexing
LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing is just jargon for relevant and useful content. The search algorithm of Google is sufficiently sophisticated to analyze the meaning of text on web pages and then apply certain meanings to them. This is the technique that Google uses to display highly relevant AdSense ads on search result pages. The same technique is used to assess the contextual relevance and quality of content with regards to the search terms used by visitors.
A common LSI example used by SEO practitioners is searching for “locks and locksmiths.” Pre-LSI days would have seen a listing of all webpages that had the term “locks” regardless of whether they were locks of hair or security locks or canal locks. With LSI, Google analyzes the content based on occurrences of words that are semantically related to locks and locksmiths. “Locks” will be connected to terms such as “key,” “door,” “locksmiths” etc. and the search results will feature those web pages.
The thing is, when you write genuinely useful content, you cannot help but naturally optimize it for LSI.
Building organic links
Building high quality organic links back to your site is a highly effective white hat SEO strategy. It is well worth spending some time to slowly build a bunch of highly credible backlinks than buying a bunch of low quality links off a link farm.
Guest blogging is great to generate organic and highly ranked backlinks to your website. Rather than syndicating duplicate, boring and useless content to hundreds of article portals, a few well-written, powerful guest posts on highly regarded blogs and websites will fetch you excellent results. Not to mention that this is an extremely effective technique to build a community who is really interested in what you have to offer.
Testimonials can be effective too. If you really liked the services provided by a provider, why don’t you send them a glowing testimonial with a link back to your site?
Being highly visible on social media, building business network profiles, creating high quality videos that can quickly go viral etc. are some of the other techniques that you can try.
These and other white hat SEO practices are more of sound marketing practices than search engine gaming techniques. If you use white hat techniques, you have no reason to worry about Google Panda or even a Grizzly.
Think long term and rely on common sense, more than shortcuts.