Beginner’s Guide to White Hat SEO and Best Practices

Pamela Obeid

Last time, we spoke to you about black hat SEO.How Google can penalise your site, leaving you wiped from search engine rankings entirely.The question is, how can you top the Google rankings without breaking any rules?The answer is simple - white hat SEO.White hat SEO is what will deliver the best ROI, all the long term gain you could possibly dream about, and the best results.Today, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to use white hat SEO to attract traffic, increase conversions, and rank higher.Let’s get into it!

What is the difference between white hat and black hat SEO?

In a nutshell, SEO is all about improving the ranking of a website on Google, so that customers don’t have to look as hard to find you. A SEO agency (ahem, like Local Digital) are pros at this.This visibility is so much more than looking good, with 32% of search traffic being captured by the website ranked first on Google.How you go about your SEO is what makes all the difference, and distinguishes white hat from black hat tactics.Some are straight as an arrow, and others - not so much.

What is white hat SEO?

This refers to all search engine optimization tactics that are in line with the terms of services.Essentially - you’re playing by the rules.Google’s rules.Google prioritizes user experience - so by following their rules, it would involve prioritizing a user experience that works for people, and creating content they’d want to read.By doing this, not only will you rank higher in search engine results, but you’re also giving your target audience a valuable, handy experience - this is the real way to improve your conversions.White hat SEO includes any practice that improves your search rankings on a SERP (search engine results page), and often includes:

  • Offering quality services and content
  • Prioritizing user experience
  • Mobile friendliness and fast page loading times
  • Using keyword-rich, descriptive metadata and page titles
  • Simple and streamlined website navigation
  • Inbound links

Why are white hat SEO techniques important?

Not using white hat SEO techniques can result in your site being banned from Google or other search engines.There are heaps of benefits of white hat SEO for site owners:

Reduced cost

Right off the bat, white hat SEO is significantly cheaper than black hat SEO. This is because site owners won’t have to repair identified violations and be penalized by Google for acts such as spam links or keyword stuffing.

A secure site

When sites are optimized with white hat SEO, they are secure against Google Penalties.

Consistent rankings

Any rankings that are achieved with white hat SEO are stable and long term, especially when compared to pages that use black hat practices.

What is black hat SEO?

Essentially, black hat SEO is the opposite of white hat SEO.It’s sort of like the dark side of search engine marketing - from sneaky redirects to keyword stuffing.Anything that is considered to be harmful or deceitful to readers would also be considered black hat SEO.Here’s what you need to know: black hat SEO does work.Most of the time, they’ll get you rankings. The problem is - they most definitely won’t last. This is because Google’s algorithms constantly change, and penalize these tactics.Google’s Penguin update, for example, was triggered by low-quality links, keyword stuffing, and link buying.A number of websites watched their rankings disappear overnight when this update was released.The moral of the story is - play the black hat game, and you’ll be penalized.The more penalties you receive, the more time-consuming and pricey it is to help your website rank again.Long term growth, therefore, should be focused on white hat SEO.

Our recommended white hat SEO practices

Here are some of the top white hat SEO strategies that every company should use.

Prioritise user experience

If there’s one thing we know about Google - it’s that they prioritize their users.Instead of writing content for machines, then, focus on writing content for people - connecting with them, and providing value to them.As a matter of fact, Google’s algorithms are designed to reward websites that have an easy and smooth UX.This is why SEO and UX work hand in hand - without a good user experience or solid SEO, your website will become a dud.Ultimately, if you give users a great experience - they’ll choose you over any competitors that can’t deliver as well.Here are some key UX elements to focus on when establishing your website:

Make the navigation easy

Good website navigation is what makes it easy for search engines to crawl, and for your visitors to find what they need, and find it quickly.Ideally, you should work with a web developer you trust to make sure that your site ticks all the right boxes.

Make sure that your site is mobile friendly

The Mobilegeddon update that Google came out with in 2015 meant that websites which are ‘responsive’ in design were given priority.Basically, Google tends to boost the rankings of mobile-friendly websites, and decreases the rankings of websites that aren’t mobile-friendly.In 2018, Google also announced ‘mobile-first’ indexing, which shifted algorithms to use the mobile version of a website’s content to index.If your website is not mobile-friendly, conversions will likely be slim - if your website is even able to be found in the first place.

Speed up your site

Your page’s loading speed directly impacts the UX of the site.Think about it from your perspective - how long would you want to sit and wait for a web page to load?Create one website and invest in creating a user experience that is unparalleled - don’t use black hat SEO techniques which don’t even begin to prioritize UX.

Keyword research

Let’s face it - keyword research is the foundation of SEO.It’s one of the key pillars, essentially related to the themes, topics, and ideas that your site is based around.Google understands language nuances like answers, synonyms, and stemming - and numerous algorithm updates mean that black hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing no longer work.Make sure your SEO is smarter too, and follow our tips:Use keyword research to inform great content - your keyword research is telling you what users are looking for, after all.Use this to select topics and content pillars for videos, long-form content, how-to articles, and more.Make sure this keyword is involved with important elements of your website like:

  • Page title, article headline, and all meta tags
  • URL slug - this shows up in search results
  • First paragraph of the article
  • Article subheadings

Create valuable and unique content

The worst of the worst when it comes to black hat SEO is creating low quality content, or stealing content from someone else.Here’s the bottom line:DON’T republish existing posts without crediting the author.Stealing content is not only unethical, but Google isn’t a fan of it either.As a matter of fact, Google’s Panda update was designed to specifically target duplicate or poor quality content.You’re simply better off creating useful, unique content as a part of a more indepth content marketing strategy.Always keep in mind that Google pays attention to “engagement signals”, and one of these is how long people are staying on your website.Ultimately, you need to invest in creating a content strategy that focuses on putting together content that is guaranteed to draw in your website viewers.If you’re lacking in resources, then find experienced content writers that can help.Studies have shown that search engine ranking factors link between rankings and in-depth content.If you sell lash extensions, for example, you could create a 5000 word guide to the different types of extensions - covering all the different lashes, glues, styles, and durations that can influence purchasing behaviour.Because of how in depth this guide is, not only is it likely to outrank the competition in Google, but it would provide value to readers, which would mean that you’re likely to stick in their minds when needing to make particular purchases.Overall, the message is that if your content gives readers what they want, Google will reward you and rank you higher.

Link building

It goes without saying that the strength of your link building strategy is fundamental to Google determining the ranking of your website.If you examine the top ranking pages for your desired keyword, it’s safe to assume that they have a number of quality backlinks associated with them.Building links isn’t fast, or easy - it definitely takes time. The alternative, however, is to buy links - but this is definitely a big no-no.Buying links might be quick and easy, and get you high quality links to boost your site, but this black hat SEO technique can garner severe penalties if you’re found out.In the words of Google:‘Buying or selling links that pass PageRank can dilute the quality of search results. Participating in link schemes violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in its search results.’So instead of buying links and violating Google’s guidelines, build them instead. You can focus on:

Quality over quantity

Google looks for certain signals to make sure that your backlinks are earned properly.Because of this, focus on earning backlinks to sites that people both trust and respect.If a high authority site like Forbes links to you, that tops receiving links for so many sites that don’t rank as highly.


Try and aim for backlinks that relate to your site. If you sell microwaves, for example, you’d want brands like Harvey Norman or The Good Guys to link to you.

Growing naturally

How many backlinks are you receiving over time?If Google determines that you receive a large quantity of backlinks in one go and then nothing, it suggests that the backlinks are being paid for.

How can I build valuable links?

There are so many ways to find yourself with white hat backlinks. Some of these are:

Round-up posts

Start inviting experts into your space to include them in round-up posts on specific topics.Write a blog post that includes their name, a link to their website, and a link to their social media profiles. You can then email this link and ask the subject to share the post on their website and social networks.This will get you more shares, and help your site be noticed and linked to by high authority sites.

Broken link-building

By finding broken links on high authority websites, you can offer the site owner your link as a replacement.Using a tool such as Ahrefs Site Explorer can allow you to check for broken links and streamline the process.By adding value to their site, people would be likely to want to link to you.

Become a source for bloggers and reporters

Using sites like Haro or SourceBottle, you can connect with bloggers and journalists who are looking to have their profile built in blogs and news sites.This white hat SEO strategy takes patience, and a lot of dedication, but is a solid way to create strong backlinks at a large scale.

On-page SEO

This one is a little tricky - it’s more than one strategy, and is a summation of a number of different adjustments and tweaks to help each page rank higher.The most exciting part about all this is that the smallest actions can make the biggest changes for your site.To start with, here are five crucial on-page elements you should be focused on:

Use descriptive URLs

Google uses page URLs to understand your content.Make your URLs both keyword rich and short - that way, Google can understand both the page and how it can be indexed.

Build site architecture containing internal links

You might not think internal linking is super important - but trust us, it is.Every internal link on the page is what helps Google understand your site architecture, and internal links also send link authority to pages you want to rank better.It might also be worth attempting to keep your site architecture ‘flat’ - and by doing this, it can take 3-4 clicks to transfer from one page to any other page on your site.

Use strategic keywords

As we’ve established, keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO tactic that doesn’t work thanks to the many Google algorithm updates.Search engines have clearly moved on, and keyword stuffing is out.You can instead show your target keyword and variations in places that can show Google what the page is about, such as:

  • In the H1 or H2 tag
  • In your title tag
  • In the intro of your content

Optimise your images

Search engines can’t see your images - we know this much.Instead, you can use alt tags.Search engines use alt tags to find out what your images are, helping index them.Because of this - the more descriptive your alt tags are, the better that Google will understand your content.

Use tools like Google Search Console to fix errors

Using sites like Google Search Console can help crawl your site for errors, flagging them when they come up so you can address them.You can even use the ‘Index Coverage Report’ on the site to see if Google is struggling to find the important pages on your site.

Now, it's your turn

Ultimately, white hat SEO comes down to one thing and one thing only: think like Google.Because Google’s ultimate goal is to put users first and find genuinely useful content, that should be your goal too.Some final takeaways to help you do this are:

  • Offer unique, useful content
  • Provide a great user experience
  • Build high-quality links

Revenue-smashing results are what you’re after - white hat SEO will keep you going, unlike black hat SEO.Most importantly - invest in white hat SEO and maintain your long-term success.Are you ready to get that extra SEO boost? Grab a free proposal with Local Digital today, and we can jumpstart your SEO journey.

Next: How to learn webflow within 30days

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Pamela Obeid
Pamela is the Digital Marketing & Podcast Coordinator at Local Digital. A self-proclaimed nerd, she thrives off all things social media, podcast, and video, propelling the LD brand to brand new heights.

You've made it this far

may as well get yourself a free proposal?