Many webmasters crave instant success which directs them to follow unethical SEO techniques (also called Black Hat SEO techniques). Even though the execution of such techniques can help websites rank higher than their competitors in the SERPs, it is only a momentary success.
Search engine bots keep on crawling websites and once a black hat site falls under their radar, the outcome will be a site-wide de-ranking and de-indexing. So, following black hat techniques can erase your entire website from Google. To avoid that risk, you should rely on ethical SEO techniques (also called White Hat SEO techniques) to attain higher SERP ranking and to outrank your competitors.
What Is White Hat SEO?
Following Google authorized SEO strategies to improve your online visibility and rankings is called White Hat SEO. The foundation of every official Google guideline is simple, ‘keep the users in mind’. Almost every month, Google launches new updates that aim to improve the search quality to provide users with refined and accurate results according to their search query.
However, using white hat SEO techniques can make it difficult to rank high because other websites might be targeting the same keywords as you are to optimize their content. We all know that Google always ranks the better content higher on the SERPs, so, how can you let Google know that your content is the better one?
In this article, you will find a list of the 4 most popular white hat SEO techniques that you must follow to outrank your competitors on Google.
White Hat SEO Technique No. 1: Keyword Research
What is keyword research?
The process of searching for relevant keywords with high search volume and preferably low competition, and adding them to your keyword database or target keyword list, is called keyword research. It is the fundamental component of making your website search engine friendly, and targeting the right keywords can improve your rankings on the SERPs.
How to do keyword research?
There are many keyword research tools available that can help you find the right keywords for your website. One great keyword tool is Twinword Ideas. Within the tool, you can simply enter a keyword and click on ‘Search’, and find countless keyword suggestions for your topic. The keyword tool has great smart filters that can help you to find the best keywords for your website.
However, your competitors have access to keyword tools as well, so if you want to outrank them you must conduct a very targeted keyword research.
Keyword Research Based On User Intent
Conducting your keyword research based on user-intent can boost your ranking opportunities along with your conversion rate as you’re targeting the right users. Therefore, you must identify the user’s intent behind a search query and optimize your content accordingly.
One way to identify a user’s search intent is through Google. You can enter any query in the search bar and Google’s auto-suggest feature will provide you with related queries. These queries are based on what people search for on Google.
Also, there’s a ‘searches related to…’ section at the end of the SERP. You can examine that as well o extend your intent-based keyword list further.
Another easy option is to use Twinword Ideas’ user intent filter. The tool can detect three different user intents, ‘know’, ‘buy’, and ‘local’.
If you’re planning to increase website traffic with informational content, choose the ‘know’ filter to target users that are looking for information. If you are promoting your local business, you can use the ‘local’ filter, and if you want to promote your products online, you can use the ‘buy’ filter to find queries with a transactional user intent (users that are looking to buy something).
Keyword Research Based On Your Competitors
When it comes to outranking your competitors, learning about what keywords they use and target is essential. To find the keywords your competitors target, you can use a competitor analysis tool.
After you retrieved the list of your competitor’s keywords, your keyword research will become more refined as you know exactly what keywords to target to rank above your competitors on Google.
After you created content that targets your competitor’s keywords, you can use several backlink building methods to get ahead of your competitors. And don’t worry, ‘stealing’ your competitor’s backlinks is not a black hat SEO technique; it’s just a smart white hat SEO technique.
White Hat SEO Technique No. 2: Enhanced Website Design & Navigation
Your website should have a design which is easy to navigate. Not only does that improve your sites UX (User Experience), but it also improves your website’s ranking. Google uses several factors and also user signals to rank websites. If you website has a bad design and navigation, users will quickly leave your site which increases bounce rate.
A very high bounce rate is a negative SEO signal and thus will negatively affect your ranking. Hence, make sure that your website is well-designed with a user-friendly navigation, to make sure that users stay longer on your website.
Another criteria of a good website design is its color contrast ratio. A good color contrast ratio ensures that your site is easy to read for users, improving your website UX. There are several tools in the internet that can help you optimize your website’s color contrast ratio.
White Hat SEO Technique No. 3: Create Valuable Content
Creating valuable and unique content is a strategy that never ages in SEO. Both people and search engines prefer content that delivers unique value. When you’re creating a piece of content, you should analyze whether and to which extent your competitors have covered the topic already. It’s helpful to study their approach and to compile a list of aspects that they haven’t covered in their posts about the same topic.
After analyzing your competitors’ contents, you can create content that includes everything – the areas that your competitors cover as well as additional information. In this way, you can create more value to your users than your competitors.
White Hat SEO Technique No. 4: Link Building
Link building is one of the most powerful white hat SEO techniques and can drive an immense amount of traffic to your domain while boosting its credibility and authority. Almost every website that gets ranked in the top of search results has a decent amount of links pointing to it, and this indicates to Google that the website is credible and must be of high quality. While backlinks are a very important part of SEO, you shouldn’t buy backlinks to improve your Google ranking. ‘Link buying’ is a black hat SEO technique and can get you penalized by Google.
Instead, you should build links in a natural way. There are several backlink building methods to do so. For example, you can approach websites for link building opportunities via guest posting. However, make sure to only seek backlinks from high quality websites. Links from spammy websites can actually harm your SEO ranking.
Research Your Competitors’ Backlinks
If you want to outrank your competitors, you have to have high-quality backlinks. Remember, the quantity of backlinks is less important than the quality of your backlinks. It is of course necessary to have a decent number of backlinks, but they’ll need to be from high authority sites.
Just like keywords, you can ‘steal’ competitor’s backlinks as well. You can use the Backlink Checker tool to perform comprehensive backlink research on your competitors and start examining their backlink profile.
Once you gathered more information about those domains that link to your competitors, you can approach those websites for guest posts and other linking opportunities.
White Hat SEO Techniques Take Time
White Hat SEO techniques/strategies won’t deliver instant success. It will take some time (approx. a month) for your website to experience an improvement in rankings.
I know, there are many factors at play here. You might not be targeting the right keywords, or maybe the keywords you target are too competitive. However, it is better to spend time and effort perfecting your white hat SEO techniques than using black hat techniques and fall prey to Google’s penalty.
So, keep on improving your white hat techniques to deliver more value to your users, and with some time you should see results.
If you would like to read more on basic SEO, check out these related articles:
Sahil is the CEO and Founder of Rankwatch - a platform, which helps companies and brands stay ahead with their SEO efforts in the ever growing internet landscape. Sahil likes making creative products that can help in automation of mundane tasks and he can spend endless nights implementing new technologies and ideas. You can connect with him and the Rankwatch team on Facebook or Twitter.