Digital Marketing trends for 2018 – Is SEO still Black and White?

SEO, SEM, PPC, CPC, ROI, 2017 has been filled with a tonne of acronyms that business owners have had to digest. So, how much has changed? Is SEO finally as simple as a blackhat and whitehat or do you need to retrain yourself for the new year? Let’s talk…

Reframing black hat seo strategies to white can boost your rankings

Search engine optimisation (SEO) may seem mysterious and overwhelming. However, as a business owner, you understand the need to optimise your content so you are seen in search results. I mean who actually goes past page 1 in a Google search, you’re first or you’re last in this regard. That’s always the end goal – rank high, get the click, then, of course, get buyers to engage or convert. Effective SEO is a huge tool to drive hungry users looking for your product or service.

Black versus white

SEO practices can be divided into two categories: white hat and black hat. Looking at white and black from an archetypal perspective, white is considered good while black is considered to be negative. Most black hat tactics are not recommended. They include strategies that would be considered deceptive or manipulative. On the other hand, white hat describes optimisation techniques and focusing on a human audience as opposed to search engines. They also follow search engine rules and policies. But just like in life, not everything about SEO is black and white. And just like in life, some rules can be broken. While black hat SEO is now considered shady, some tactics are rooted in insightful ideas. Let’s look at three black hat approaches that are not advised, but if corrected can be beneficial to your SEO efforts.

Keyword stuffing

With keyword stuffing, a certain keyword or keywords is “stuffed” throughout the site. Getting the right keyword density is an important part of ranking. When it’s obvious that a keyword is stuffed, it can backfire.

Keyword stuffing was once the norm when Google calculated rank purely on a keyword-based search understanding. It was how a site increased its relevance. That’s not how Google operates today. It’s much smarter, looking at relevance, freshness and quality over the number of times a word is used. Stuffing now will not increase your rankings and could actually bring your rankings down dramatically, especially if these actions dilute the quality or natural flow of content.

If you find that you’re worried about using a keyword too many times, use synonyms. Synonyms are a great way to build relevance without risking over-optimisation.

How to use keywords properly in 2018

First, determine what keywords have the best opportunity for your content through research. Look for high volume and low competition opportunities. Then create quality content. Focus on one to two keywords a post and also consider long tail keywords.

In the actual content, check your density. Keyword density is calculated as a ratio of uses to total words. So using a keyword five times in 500 words equals one percent. There’s no magical percentage. Most experts would agree that one to three percent is optimal. You’ll want keywords in your header, meta title, meta descriptions and the body of the content. But check your density and ensure that the content has a high readability score. If your content is obviously trying to game the system, unfortunately, you will be penalised.

Paid Links

Inbound third-party links can be great for your rank. Google considers them signifiers of trust and authority. But, more links isn’t always better. Google actually forbids “link schemes” designed to get you more links without actually earning them. The worst kind of link scheme is paid links. When I launched my first website, I bought a bunch of cheap backlinks off the net. That website doesn’t even exist anymore. (R.I.P). It might be great in the short term, but eventually, Google will catch you, its what they do and they will penalise you. It’s like taking one step forward then two steps back, don’t do it.

How to do link building right

Develop quality or authority content that others would see as a great source. This could be an evergreen piece of content that’s refreshed periodically. The information has to be accurate and high quality. Create boss content. Remember, if your content is accurate other blogs, influencers or resource online will naturally link back to it. Your content becomes the reference so focus on providing as much value to your reader as possible. That’s a win in Google eyes and you will reap the benefits.

Strategically seek linkbacks by finding pages that link to content that is similar to yours and suggest your content should be included. You may also be able to create legitimate links by guest posting on a site and linking back to the other content, although this isn’t always allowed. A backlink audit is in need here to check your site and make sure you’re not in the danger zone.

Duplicating or spinning content

Again, more isn’t always better. Google indexes your content, thus more content means more ranked pages, right? Google cares more about quality over quantity. If you “repurpose” other content or plagiarise, Google will detect it, and you’ll see no organic rank benefits.

How to use content correctly

Having a large amount of content on your site that’s of great quality is an excellent tactic. Focus on the relevance of this content and how often you add new content to your site. Regularly blogging or adding content to your site with an optimal keyword density and high readability can only help your organic rankings. Remember, Google has the reader in mind – if you provide value you will reap the rewards. With that being said, today’s article has only mentioned a handful of white hat tactics that will influence the results.

SEO isn’t strictly black and white. There are shades of grey. The important thing is to always focus on what you can control, don’t break Google’s rules, follow the guidelines and if in doubt ask an expert.

Learn more about how you can elevate your rankings with proven white hat techniques today with a free website analysis:

Get Your Free Digital Marketing Report