What Is White Hat SEO?

what is white hat SEO

White Hat SEO is a method of search engine optimization that sticks to search engine guidelines.

White hat SEO strategies focus on:

  • Creating great content which gives the user exactly what they are looking for.
  • Ensuring that the website is fast and functions well.
  • On-page optimizations such as improving the way data is formatted or adding internal links.
  • Making sure that the website is easy to navigate around.

White Hat SEO strategies do not try to manipulate external ranking factors such as inbound links.

White Hat SEO Techniques

White Hat SEO can be divided into three different areas:

1. Technical SEO

Technical SEO is something that many white hat SEOs will spend a lot of time working on.

This includes things such as :

  • Improve page speed
  • Fixing 404 errors
  • Fixing 301 redirects
  • Adding structured data to pages
  • Setting up SSL certificates
  • …and more

2. Content Creation

Content creation is the primary thing that dedicated white hat SEOs will spend their time on, this includes things such as:

  • Keyword research
  • Competitor research
  • Writing content
  • Improving existing content
  • Formatting data
  • Featured snippet optimization

3. Digital PR

Link building isn’t something that White Hat SEOs do.

Yet there is one exception to this rule; Digital PR.

John Mueller – A Google Spokesman – Endorses Digital PR

Digital PR involves doing research and putting niche relevant stories together which are then sent out to Journalists.

If your research or story is considered interesting enough then it may earn natural links from news outlets.

Because these links are naturally earnt, rather than paid for or manually built these are considered to be natural ‘white hat’ links.

Things That Aren’t White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO is something that almost all agencies will tell their clients they do.

More often than not this isn’t the truth.

If your SEO does any link building (with one notable exception) then they are not completely white hat, they are more Grey Hat.

This is not necessarily a bad thing providing they know what they are doing.

The best way to make sure they know what they are doing is to ask for examples of past successes, preferably in your niche, which has stood the test of time.

If you would rather use completely White Hat SEO techniques then make sure you avoid doing any of the following things:

1. Asking A Website To Change A ‘nofollow’ Link To A ‘follow’ Link

A White Hat SEO shouldn’t care whether a link is followed or not.

Asking to change a nofollow link to a follow link is a method of attempting to game the algorithm by manipulating external signals and therefore is not a white hat technique.

2. Paying For Any Link

Paying for a link in any way is an example of a “link scheme which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results”.

google webmaster guidelines links

3. Sending Webmasters A Gift In Exchange For A Link

As above this is another form of link buying, some may argue that it is a white hat technique because no money is exchanged for the link but this is not the case, the link is effectively paid for with a product so it is not a naturally earned link.

4. Guest Post Outreach

Guest Post outreach is another form of link outreach that isn’t white hat.

Guest post outreach is done with one objective in mind, to manipulate external signals to help rank your site.

These links are not naturally earnt by your content so therefore are not strictly speaking white hat.

5. Niche Edits

This is when you insert a link into an existing post.

These links are usually paid for so also violate Google’s webmaster guidelines.

6. Using Private Blog Networks

Private blog networks are a network of sites owned by an individual, these can be used to link back to a primary site that a user wishes to rank.

Using PBNs is a black hat SEO technique.

7. Using Spun Content

Content spinning is the practice of taking some existing content and putting it through content spinning software which rewrites the content (poorly).

This type of content is often used on Private Blog Networks as a quick and cheap way of getting unique relevant content on them.

8. Using Expired Domains

Expired domains are often used to either build a new site on so that the new site can benefit from the domain’s existing link authority.

They may also be redirected to give a site a boost from the expired domains links authority.

Both of these methods are effectively a type of buying links and are therefore not strictly white hat.

9. Tiered Link Building

Tiered link building is the practice of building links to your links in order to power them up and pass more authority to your site.

This is a method of manipulating external ranking signals and as such is not white hat.

10. Negative SEO

This is the practice of reducing the rankings of a competitor so that you rank above them.

This can often involve building low-quality links to a site.

This is a highly unethical strategy and is obviously not white hat in any way.

11. …& More

There are countless more methods that people use to try and rank sites that are not white hat.

While many of these methods can and do work they are not advisable if you are new to SEO or if you are inexperienced in using these techniques.

This is because they violate Google’s guidelines so if they work out what you are doing (which they are very good at) your traffic could suffer.


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