White Hat SEO Techniques: It’s Not About Gaming Google

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SEO isn’t about gaming Google. It’s simply about creating content that people want and that satisfies their search intent.

Looking at SEO from this perspective can make it easier to understand and easier to execute white hat SEO techniques. By putting aside the spammy tactics of yesteryear, you can produce and publish customer-focused content without that scammy vibe.

Now let’s talk about how to know what content topics people want.

White Hat SEO Technique #1: Use Keyword Research to Discover Content Demand

A little keyword research can go a long way in helping you understand what your audience wants.

Not only will you find topics that are frequently searched, you’re also likely to stumble on search language they are using that you might not have anticipated. One reason for this–your knowledge and expertise in your industry is deeper than theirs. The language you use is probably industry jargon that your audience doesn’t use. This is a great opportunity for you to find long tail keywords that your audience can understand, and create content that speaks to them.

Creating content using language your customers use is as white hat as it comes. Forget stuffing your content with a single keyword over and over again. This is about meeting customers on their turf, speaking to them naturally and in terms they understand.

White hat do’s:

Do — choose to target keywords that are fairly popular. The ease of ranking for those keywords will depend on the competitive strength of your site. Be realistic in how high of a competition level you can take on and still get results.

Do — include the target keywords in all the right places–URL, title tag, alt images, body content, etc.

Do — use other keywords that are related to your target keyword within the body of your content.

Example: If you’re writing a post about doing a competitive analysis, you should also include related terms like competitive analysis report or competitive analysis example.

Do — use the target keyword in the anchor text of internal links to the new content.

Black hat don’ts:

Don’t — aim for quantity over quality. With all the searches Google receives every day, you can be certain its algorithms understand synonymous phrases. Instead of repeating the same keyword phrase as often as possible, use like-keywords to reinforce what your content is about.

Now that you know what your audience is searching for, let’s talk about what they want to find.

White Hat SEO Technique #2: Create SEO Content That Answers The Search Intent

You don’t need to be a technical genius to do SEO right. Like most marketing disciplines, a little bit of empathy for the user searching can go a long way to getting results in SEO.

Think from the perspective of the searcher.

  • What are they looking for?
  • What are the problems they are seeking advice or solutions to?
  • Are they looking for advice, or are they looking to buy something?

Search intent tends to fall into one of these categories:

  • Learn something
  • Find solution to a problem
  • Purchase something

When evaluating your list of keyword opportunities, think about whether a person searching that phrase is hoping to learn something, find a solution to a problem, or make a purchase.

The phrase they’ve entered reveals a lot about their intention.

When you create your SEO content be sure to give users what they are looking for. If they are looking for an educational “how to” article, don’t create content that pushes a sale.

White hat do’s

Do — think of your content as a Q & A. The keyword query is the question. Your content is the answer.

Do — be a useful resource by giving the searcher what they want.

Do — be clear in your title tag and meta description about what your content promises.

Black hat don’ts

Don’t — bait and switch the searcher with misleading click-bait titles. Your title should always tie directly to your content. If it doesn’t, the visitor is more likely to bounce, sending Google a signal that your content didn’t serve their search interest. As a result, Google will drop your position in the SERPs like a hot potato.

White Hat SEO Technique #3: Help Google Know What Your Content is About by Getting Votes of Confidence

Google needs to know what your content is about in order to place it in the right SERPs for the right search terms.

One way it does this is through on-page signals–things like the inclusion of keywords in the URL, title, body content, etc.

Another way is through on-site signals–internal links from related pages on your site using anchor text that is descriptive of the content (i.e. it includes the target keyword).

And then there are off-site signals–inbound links from 3rd party trust-worthy sites that have related content linking to your content. A 3rd party citation of your content tells Google that a real, live person who created it thinks your content truly is about “xyz” (aka your keyword).

This is the origin of SEO’s spammy reputation. Bad-actors manipulated off-site signals by fabricating inbound links with things like link farms–clearly not living, breathing humans giving a vote of confidence that the content is indeed about what you claim it to be.

As a result, Google has put great effort into knowing when an inbound link is from a quality, trust-worthy site, versus a fabricated link purely for manipulative gain. The former helps you. The latter hurts you.

So when you hear the term “link building,” forget those old school black hat tactics. The game has changed. When done right, link building can be an extremely powerful way to boost search rankings. As a bonus, it could drive referral traffic too.

The key here is in building relationships and reaching out to bloggers and journalists to let them know about your awesome content. We’ll need to write a whole other post on white hat link building.

But the point is–

If you followed #1, you’ll have content that’s in demand–and the bloggers you reach out to will know their audience enough to know that.

If you followed #2, bloggers will appreciate the resourcefulness of your content and be more likely to cite it when it is relevant and complimentary to the content they are creating.

White hat do’s:

Do — reach out to influencers to let them know about your content, pointing out why it might add value to their content.

Do – personalize your outreach in a genuine, one-on-one way that shows you know the blogger.

Do — be patient. Building mutually beneficial relationships takes time.

Black hat don’ts:

Don’t — send mass emails to influencers with no personalization. It won’t be effective. It won’t get you to the top of Google. And you’ll burn bridges in the process.

Summary of a White Hat SEO Strategy

In sum, you can practice good SEO without feeling like a spammer if you follow white hat SEO strategies. In fact, the more you focus on serving the searcher’s needs, the more you’ll benefit. It’s a win-win for everybody involved.

  • The searcher gets what they want–an answer to their search
  • Google gets what they want–satisfied searchers (aka happy customers)
  • You get what you want–top rankings on Google and “free” organic traffic
Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper

Kim has 12 years experience in demand generation, content marketing, and campaign management. Her expertise has helped grow user bases by as much as 7x year over year, and a startup from nothing to $1.2 million in revenue in just 3 years.
Kim Cooper

About Kim Cooper

Kim has 12 years experience in demand generation, content marketing, and campaign management. Her expertise has helped grow user bases by as much as 7x year over year, and a startup from nothing to $1.2 million in revenue in just 3 years.

  • Hi Kim You cleared my confustion regarding keywords. Thanks for this . Using target and related keyword as it comes while writing i think is good way to do right seo.

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  • Hallo Ms. Kim cooper, nice artikel, this article will making open eye, that updates the one article every day or more, the SEO will come by itself …
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  • Mlcf Mlcf

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  • Alfie Wilson

    Thank you for the great article, very informative & helpful.

  • A great post, really clear. I think in trying to chase Google ranking, the customer and good content is sometimes forgotten. Some great points to implement, thanks

  • Anjan Kant

    it is very explained about White Hat SEO. really, it helped me out.

  • kvsc

    Great blog @ Kim Cooper.
    Its all about understanding your audience and managing the campaign accordingly.

  • Yes, I fully agree with you now SEO is gradually transformed into a new era, all the forces should invest in good content, also you need to consider the wishes of users and their tastes, the problem will be that not every site owner will be able to create quality content and to attract visitors

  • Alphawanderlust

    I am still relatively new to this SEO but this was a good write up. thanks for the article!

  • Sad truth is that too many are having to spend far too much time and resource ‘pleasing’ and ‘pampering’ to google and its forever changing goal posts, that the mindset does change to gaming the system. One hat does not fit all, and still does not divert from the threat of competitors using BlackHat techniques to harm your standing. The panacea is to have great content appealing to the visitor that still fits in with googles ever evolving algorithms

  • Hi Kim, I found your blog very helpful indeed. When I blog I do tend to feel there is a battle between key words and content my readers want to see. I think I need to focus on headings and a balance with key words. Which is the best site to look for popular key words?

  • HI kim…thank you very much.

  • Hi, Kim Cooper, very informative article. Thank for sharing

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  • I think targeting related keyword with low competition we can get easily rank high competition.

  • Hi Kim Cooper,

    Thank you for sharing and this is very informative.

  • Everyone should realize now that Google just wants content people haven’t written about yet – that’s being searched. 🙂

  • yes many of the people search the content copy content and modify the value of content … so try give the best content….@divyasha:disqus

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  • Hi Kim Cooper,

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  • Kavili Sridhar

    I am still new to this SEO but this was a good article. thanks for the information!

  • white hat hmm this is nice post

  • Great tips for every blogger.

  • Thank you for the information…

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    ikutan juga ah… 🙂

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  • Nice post Kim.
    I will read this post further in the evening, i have to know all about white hat seo.

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    Thank you

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  • It’s 2016. Anyone who still engages in Black Hat SEO is a dinosaur.

    • Marc Batags

      ^^^ WOW Blatant Black Hat backlinking seems to work

      • I’m going to change my Disqus username just for you Marc Batags, because you don’t like it. I appreciate you correcting me on this….Thanks.

        • Marc Batags

          FedPrime, no offense but that is a technique right? comment on big authority sites?

  • Marc Batags

    I am a webmaster for 4 different websites in the substance abuse field, This is one of the most highly competitive space to be in. White Hat SEO is a must! I will say it has taken over 6 months to take the number one and 2 spot for “intervention deaths” keyword research and google trends seem to work great, and they are free to use! I do not try to rank for high volume traffic, you will never win, instead I go for the 8k-10k volume. That seem to be the sweet spot, but don’t expect results in one day!

    Great Article! Alexa! Thanks

  • Neeson

    Great article!

  • Very well explained the new edge of SEO. Search engine optimization with good intent will work only in current scenario.

  • Black Hat SEO is as effective as showing up on a first date wearing a ‘Members Only’ jacket from 1984. It shows you’ve got nerve but no comprehension of the peril and soon-to-be isolation that results from offending Google (or your date)

  • ASEN ASENOV

    thanks

  • Very useful article, may I ask do you have some suggestions for link building ?

  • Hi Cooper,
    Wonderful article from you and I think these most important for me. By the way, thanks for writing this article.

  • okna-schueco.ru

    Thank you for the information…

  • Pratiksha Medhane

    Nice Article kim…can u plz tell guide me for link building?

  • Thanks

  • Thanks Kim, this was a great post. Loved the idea of making connection with influencers and other bloggers authentic.

  • Great quote ” Forget stuffing your content with a single keyword over and over again. This is about meeting customers on their turf, speaking to them naturally and in terms they understand.” That statement really resonated with me Kim. Thanks. I look forward to your post on white hat link building

  • Aimee Jurenka

    Great list of to dos!