Which hat should you wear?

Now, the title may not give much away about whats going on in this post, and you may think, I’m pretty sure my hat choice will make no difference to my online presence (unless you’re in fashion, then maybe it will).

In this post, I’ll be trying to explain SEO and some of the techniques used in as simple terms as possible. If you don’t fully understand something I’ve written, leave a comment and someone at Black Rebel Group will get back to you as soon as we can.

Now, before I get into hats, I think it is important that I explain what SEO actually is. It stands for Search Engine Optimisation and essentially means any activity that attempts to increase your rankings on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) such as Google or Bing.

There are three forms of SEO: White Hat, Grey Hat and Black Hat. The Google algorithm uses two techniques for analysing the content of web pages: Google Panda and Google Penguin. Panda looks for high quality content and Penguin looks for the use of black hat techniques. Follow the links below to see how you can keep Google Panda and google penguin happy.

panda-1304584_960_720Google Panda

avatar-1295430_960_720Google Penguin

I’ll be focusing on black and white hat in this post when it comes to the techniques used but I’ll give you an overview of what grey hat SEO is.

White Hat SEO

These are strategies/techniques that search engines like and so help your pages to rank well.

One of the easiest techniques for white hat SEO is quality content. In marketing, you hear it a lot, ‘Content is King!’ and it truly is. Search engines love unique, well written content as they want to give their users the best information from the search results. You also want your website visitors to read your content so making it interesting is a must.

Properly set out page titles and allowed hidden search data (meta data) are also important, however they do not carry as much weight as they used to due to their misuse in black hat techniques. As page titles appear in SERPs you need to make them as relevant to the content of the page as possible in order to get the right traffic.

Effectively using keywords is also another white hat technique, the word effectively is important as there is a technique called Keyword Stuffing but that comes under black hat which is mentioned further down. Keyword research will help you to pick out words/phrases that people may use to find your site on search engines. Try using words/phrases that are specific to the products/services you sell so you are targeting people that want a specific product and you will be more likely to appear higher in the rankings when they search the phrase. Assign the keywords to the pages on your site that they apply to, don’t use the same keywords for every page and don’t put too many on each page.

Grey Hat SEO

Kind of a middle ground, you can be penalised for using these techniques but it depends on the tolerance of the search engine you are using and your website’s credibility and reputation. Grey hat techniques are more risky than white hat techniques but not as bad as some of the black hat techniques.

Black Hat SEO

Search engines do not like these techniques at all, and penalise sites for using them. They are always looking for ways to prevent them from effecting rankings, so using them isn’t recommended.

The main one that comes to mind for black hat SEO is hidden content. This can be done either in the code of the pages or on the page itself. Basically, there will be content stuffed with keywords that will not be visible to the users of the site but will be visible to search engines. If the hidden content is on the page itself it is usually either text so small that cannot be read or it is text that is the same colour as the page background and so cannot be seen. Whichever way the content has been hidden, it isn’t a great idea and search engines don’t like this technique being used so it could lead to your website being penalised or banned.

Earlier in the post I mentioned Keyword Stuffing and now I’m going to give you a brief overview of what it is. It refers to overloading your pages with keywords, either in the meta data or within the content on the pages themselves so the content doesn’t make sense to website users. Some may repeat the same keyword over and over in the hopes of getting it recognised more. The use of keyword stuffing is the reason that meta tags are no longer as recognised by search engines and they have now implemented algorithms that recognise keyword stuffing and so using this techniques won’t make a difference to your rankings and it may result in your site being penalised, demoted or even removed form indexes temporarily or permanently. So, basically don’t do it.

Link farms are another black hat technique, and they are basically a web page (or web pages) set up with the sole purpose of linking to target web pages. This technique is used because one aspect of how search engines rank pages is the number and quality of links to your web pages from other sites. However, I don’t recommend using them as search engines are banning sites if they are found to be participating in link farming.

Basically, it is better to stick with white hat techniques just to be sure that your website doesn’t face any penalties and miss out on consumer traffic. These are just a few of the techniques used and I hope I’ve managed to help you to understand the difference between them.

If you would like further information about any aspect of SEO or have any questions, leave a comment or email info@blackrebelmarketing.co.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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