Did you know that over 90% of web pages get zero traffic from Google? This is often due to a poor backlink profile or irrelevant content. Common mistakes, such as using the wrong keywords, can further affect your rankings in search results.
Whether you have a blog, portfolio website, or business page, search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial.
If your content isn't optimized for the search engines, you're missing out on potential customers and sales. Plus, the target audience may not be able to find your small business online.
But there's more than one way to optimize your site or blog. Your best bet is to follow Google's best practices and use white hat SEO techniques to get higher rankings. Black hat SEO may work for a while, but the results won't last.
Gray hat SEO is somewhere in the middle and involves using questionable methods that may hurt your business in the long run. There's also negative SEO, a practice that your competitors may use against you.
Feeling confused? You don't have to. Here's what you should know about the different types of SEO and how to choose one that works for your business!
Why Search Engine Optimization Matters
First things first, make sure you understand how SEO works and why it's important. This term stands for search engine optimization and refers to the process of bringing in organic, or unpaid, traffic to your site or blog.
For businesses, SEO is one of the best lead generation strategies. If, say, you operate an eCommerce store, you can optimize its pages—including the content and product descriptions—to reach more customers and outrank your competitors.
Search engine optimization can also help you build trust and credibility. A business that shows up on the first page in search results is often perceived as more trustworthy than one with a weak online presence.
Sure, you can also use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to drive traffic and gain exposure online. The problem is that up to 95% of consumers ignore sponsored ads and prefer organic results. While it's true that SEO takes longer to work, the results can last for months or even years.
Another advantage of SEO is its cost-efficiency. Imagine a website ranking for hundreds of keywords and driving massive traffic through organic search. You'd have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a month to get the same results with PPC.
However, not all SEO techniques are legit or effective. As mentioned earlier, there's white hat SEO, black hat SEO, and everything in between. Some practices, such as keyword stuffing, can get your website banned from the search engines.
Interested to learn more? Let's take a closer look at the different kinds of SEO out there.
Always Use White-Hat SEO
As a legit business, you want to play by the rules when it comes to optimizing your website. That's where white hat SEO comes in.
This practice encompasses SEO techniques that abide by Google’s guidelines. When done right, it can improve content quality, reduce page loading speed, and make your site easier to navigate. Over time, it may lead to higher rankings and increased traffic.
With white hat SEO, your website will be more appealing to both customers and search bots. Plus, it will stand out from the competition and attract quality traffic that converts.
Some of the best white hat SEO tactics include keyword research, content creation, link building, and guest posting.
For example, you can start by making a list of keywords related to your business. Next, place them strategically in page titles, website copy, metadata, and permalinks. Someone who uses black hat SEO, by comparison, will create content with hidden text and links to rank for the target keywords.
Note that white hat SEO can be further broken down into several categories. There’s local SEO, on-page and off-page SEO, technical SEO, and more.
Black Hat SEO Goes against Google’s Rules
As you might have guessed, black hat SEO goes against Google's guidelines as it involves illegitimate practices. These include but are not limited to:
- Article spinning
- Doorway pages
- Invisible text
- Keyword stuffing
- Sneaky redirects
- Duplicate content
- Link networks and link farms
- Content automation
Doorway pages, for example, are stuffed with keywords and provide no value to the reader. Their only purpose is to trick the search bots and transfer visitors to another page or website.
Some black hat SEO techniques are less obvious than others. It's not uncommon for business owners to buy links in an attempt to get higher rankings. What they don't know is that this practice goes against the rules.
Google states that buying and selling links for advertising purposes is fine.
For example, a brand may pay bloggers to include one or more links to its website in their posts. But that's not the same as buying or selling links with the purpose of manipulating the search engines.
Spam comments fall into the same category. These are typically generated by bots and provide no value to the reader.
These techniques can affect your company's reputation and search engine rankings. In the worst-case scenario, your website will be penalized or banned.
Grey Hat SEO Can Be Risky
Grey hat SEO doesn't violate Google's policies, but it can be risky. Some of the most widely used practices in this area are similar to those used for black hat SEO. Cloaking, link exchanges, and keyword stuffing are just a few to mention.
However, some practices are more legitimate than others.
Buying expired domains, for example, won't necessarily hurt your rankings. The key is to purchase a reputable URL that's relevant to your business and has a good backlink profile.
Grow Your Traffic the Smart Way
As you see, there's more than one way to increase website traffic and gain visibility in search results. Some practices may seem legitimate, but they can backfire if you're not careful.
Don't take unnecessary risks. Join our community to connect with experts who know the ins and outs of search engine optimization. From content creation to link building, we've got you covered!