If you talk to any freelance SEO expert for more than 5 minutes they will tell you this. Whilst the content and structure of your website should be optimized for search engines, the Onpage factors of keyword density, URL structure, internal linking and so forth can be seen as important yet simply technical aspects of SEO. Focusing purely on Onpage SEO tactics may improve the crawling of your site but it is not the quick-fix solution to improving your SERP rankings for your desired keywords. Thus, it is only with an effective Offpage SEO strategy that acquires quality backlinks for your site that you can be sure to improve your rankings. However, with backlinks, quality far outstrips quantity in terms of results, and to ensure that you receive valuable, effective backlinks then you will need to follow the principles of what is known as White-Hat SEO.
What is White-Hat SEO?
White-Hat SEO refers to the acquisition of backlinks to your site through above the board, legal and organic methods, in a nutshell, links that have been generated from other sites that view the content on your website to be of a certain quality. White-Hat backlinks can range in their scope and include;
1. Link exchanges – the exchange of links between two sites based on a mutual appreciation of content
2. Guest Articles – procuring guest article places on other websites where you can share content but also obtain a backlink or two
3. Independent link creation – the natural sharing of your site through the blogosphere by other bloggers based on the strength of your content.
White-Hat vs. Black-Hat SEO
Black-Hat SEO refers to the practice of creating backlinks through inorganic and unnatural methods. Black-Hat methods include:
1. Creating backlinks through using automated link generators
2. Paying for links through a link farm,
3. Making thousands of forum comments and blog comments
Backlinks created through these methods are not highly valued by Google, and the vast majority of forums and blog comment sections alone are nofollow and thus any link created from these sites will not even be crawled by the search engine spiders back to your website in the first place. Moreover, even with forums and blogs that are follow, the main reason Black-Hat backlinks will not benefit your SERP results is because the idea of a backlink is that it is a genuine “vote” in the quality and content of your website. Thus any practice that acquires hundreds or thousands of links very quickly is likely to be seen as unnatural by Google. How likely is it that thousands of different people from all over the world start linking to your website over the course of a few days? In extreme cases Black-Hat SEO can even lead to a penalty for your website, where Google forcibly decreases your SERP results.
Does White-Hat SEO really improve rankings?
With the recent Panda update, Google has once again stated their intention that websites must improve the quality of their content. Many websites that contained hundreds of similar content pages were penalized. Whilst the Panda update did not affect link building directly, the notion that quality trumps quantity has therefore become a strong philosophy for Google. The speed at which White-Hat SEO positively affects your SERP results depends on the competitiveness of your keyword with regards to how many other websites are producing content and links for the same keyword. To find this information use the Google keywords tool to see how competitive your keyword is. Nevertheless, as a general rule for a keyword that is quite competitive (0.7) you can expect to see the keyword rank on the first page of Google after 50-70 backlinks.
However, even with White-Hat SEO numbers are not everything, the quality of the websites from which you receive the links will also affect the speed of your SERP increase. But don’t worry, quality is not simply in the eyes of the beholder and there are a variety of quality factors to review when assessing the quality of a website:
1. Domain popularity: The most important factor. Domain popularity refers to the number of websites that have granted a backlink to the website partner that you are evaluating. The higher the domain popularity of a website the more quality Google views this website to possess, as Google sees many different websites linking to the website’s content. To check the domain popularity use Opensiteexplorer and look for “linking root domains”. A good figure to aim for when assessing a website is 50+.
2. Content relevance to your keyword
3. Age of the domain – the older the better . Number of external links hosted on a page – if the site has hundreds of external links then it’s possible that this site is a link farm. Looking at the no. of external links is important as the value of your link is divided by the total of other external links on a page. To ensure your backlink is valuable aim for pages with less than 100 external links.
4. Does the website contain only “nofollow” links?
To sum up, White-Hat SEO not only increases your SERP results but really catches the core of what online marketing should be. Sharing your expertise and experience through guest articles and other such collaborations with other websites not only provides you excellent backlinking opportunities, it also provides interesting and worthwhile content for web users. With White-Hat SEO you can achieve both good SERP results and a sense of pride in your backlinks that you’ll never get doing Black-Hat SEO. So what are you waiting for?
Robert from twago.