SEO is a duality – there’s good SEO and bad SEO. Bad SEO is considered “black hat” while good SEO is considered “white hat.” In general, what separates black hat tactics from white hat tactics is quality and longevity?
Black hat SEO tactics don’t work over a long period of time and they tend to produce poor quality content and spammy links in the process –two things that will hurt your rankings and traffic the most.
On the other hand, white hat SEO tactics will generate results over a long period of time and produce high-quality content and strong links in the process. And that’s exactly what you need for a successful SEO campaign.
Are you wondering what SEO methods are still valid? Are you’re looking for some white hat SEO hacks to gain a competitive edge in your industry? If so, check out this list of 31 white hat SEO hacks for 2021.
Content has always been king. However, in 2021 and beyond only quality content will rank high. The machine learning algorithms that power the search engines have had years to learn the difference between low and high-quality content without human input. It’s not easy to fool a search engine algorithm in 2021.
In the past, it was easy to rank poor quality content by keyword stuffing and buying mass quantities of backlinks that got published on spammy blog networks. Today, those tricks don’t work. You have to put in serious and genuine effort to rank your content in the search engines. Your content needs to be relevant and have context. Getting ranked high in the search engines all starts with creating high-quality content.
Everyone talks about “high-quality content,” but what does that actually mean? Contrary to what you might think, a 5,000-word article that covers 30 different angles on a given topic isn’t automatically considered high-quality. There are multiple factors that determine how search engines perceive the quality of content.
Search engines look for these signals to determine if a piece of content is high-quality:
Ideally, your content should be long, but only long enough to dive into your topic in-depth. If you’re filling in space just to expand your word count, your content is too long.
SEO experts suggest using a target keyword phrase once for every 200 words of content. Sometimes that’s not possible if you want your content to be grammatically correct, flow, and be well-written. For example, after using your targeted phrase, you might need to begin the next sentence with your phrase (or part of it) to avoid writing a vague sentence. That should be fine as long as you don’t go overboard into what would be considered keyword stuffing.
It’s easier to limit keyword density by using LSI keywords and synonyms to ensure you have a variety of phrases in your article. Just make sure you don’t overdo any of the phrases you use.
Instead, try using between 3-7 words that capture some kind of action or emotion. For example, instead of linking the words, “best marketing strategy,” link the words, “link building gets businesses phenomenal results.” You can still make “best marketing strategy” part of the sentence, but don’t make it part of your anchor text.
Creating high-quality content with the right keyword density and varied anchor text is the ultimate white hat SEO strategy.
Content marketing is a fantastic way to get high-quality backlinks from targeted publishers inside of content you create. With content marketing, you always have control over how your backlinks are presented and linked, and where they are published.
Outsourced content marketing is a way to hand off the content writing and publishing to another company. You’ll still have a hand in how your content is created and will approve the final result before publication. However, you won’t have to do the work.
Content marketing is most effective when you can create content fast, regularly, and in large quantities. That sounds great, but most business owners and entrepreneurs just don’t have the time to crank out content on a regular basis. Even writing one piece of content per week is too much for most people to handle.
The answer is to outsource your content marketing. Outsourced content marketing gives you the ability to generate however much content you want, provided you have the budget to pay for the services.
If you’ve heard bad things about outsourcing, that’s an old, outdated model. Today, you can outsource content marketing without sacrificing quality. In fact, with the right content writers, you can actually improve the quality of your content by gaining access to experienced, talented, professional writers.
Outsourced content marketing helps with SEO in the following ways:
When you hire a reputable, professional marketing firm, there’s virtually no difference between outsourced content and content created in-house by your own writing team.
To get the high-quality content you expect and deserve, consider these tips:
Always ask to see samples from the writing team. Make sure the writers you’re hiring to create your content don’t make countless mistakes that you’ll need to correct before publication. Ideally, your content writers should have their own editor to catch the small mistakes.
Those who get big results from content marketing for SEO generally have a large budget specifically set aside for content marketing.
A 2019 study revealed that in just two years, content marketing spend increased by 73%. Many respondents reported allotting 18% of their total marketing budget to content marketing.
The study also revealed that 59% of respondents were frustrated by not having actionable insights or reliable tracking methods to determine the efficacy of their content marketing strategy. This brings up the next point.
Not all content marketing companies will give you access to the insight required to improve your strategy. Some companies may not know how to get or analyze that data. Others may want you to pay a premium for access to the data.
A reliable marketing agency won’t just give you raw data and tell you to figure out what it means. They’ll track your progress closely and will communicate with you on a regular basis to make sure you know where you stand. Each piece of content will be tracked and measured.
When you work with a full-service content marketing company, like SEO.co, an expert will set you up with a system to track traffic that comes from each published piece of content and measure how it’s ranking in the search engines. With detailed tracking, you’ll know exactly how each piece of content is performing.
You’ll also get regular meetings to discuss your current results so you can tweak your strategy if necessary.
The writers tasked with writing your content won’t be familiar with your brand out of the box. It’s helpful to create a style guide for your writers to ensure the content they produce represents your brand.
A style guide can include requests like:
If you don’t have a specific style you’d like your writers to use, that’s okay. You can format the content as you publish it to your site.
Most of the time, writers will get a solid view of your company once they review your website and company information. However, there will always be points of miscommunication or misunderstandings.
Require pitches first. You never know what kind of article a writer might create if they don’t fully understand your business or industry. It can happen in any industry, but getting pitches first is absolute essential for technical or complex industries.
Requiring writers to pitch content ideas will help you keep your content on topic and will save you from unnecessary back-and-forth or having to ask the writer to rewrite an article completely. Even though most contracts will allow for rewrites if you’re not satisfied, writers will get frustrated if they have to rewrite articles frequently.
Your content writer will likely have an editor review the content before passing it along to you. However, you’ll also want to have an in-house editor review the content, preferably before even passing it along to you.
Having an editor review the content will keep you out of the back-and-forth until absolutely necessary. If your editor finds some points that need to be changed, they can make those requests to the writer. Once the content is presentable and your editor believes it represents your brand, then you can review the content for final approval.
If you’ve never outsourced your content marketing before, reach out to us at SEO.co and tell us what you need. We’d love to make content marketing easier for you.
Creating mobile-first content is now essential for SEO. You can’t create a website that isn’t mobile-friendly and expect to rank your web pages in the search engines.
Google rolled out a mobile-first index that prioritizes ranking web pages that are mobile-friendly. This means that having mobile-friendly elements on a web page now play a massive role in ranking.
Although there are other search engines, Google has the largest portion of market share, and your website needs to be considered mobile-friendly by Google.
Google views a website as mobile-friendly if it meets the following criteria:
To see if Google considers your web pages mobile-friendly, test your web pages here.
If your site needs some help, connect with a professional SEO firm to perform a mobile SEO audit and make the required changes.
Local business listings are essential in 2021 and beyond. When a local user searches Google for a product or service you sell, your business listing will usually come up in the results if you’ve optimized your listing properly.
If your business listing doesn’t come up in results, your listing is either not optimized or you might have some fierce competition. It’s hard to tell on the surface, but a marketing agency can help you figure it all out.
User experience (UX) is an indirect SEO strategy. Technically, the game is to optimize your website for the search engines. However, the search engines know if your website is optimized for your visitors. That’s the catch that many people don’t realize.
If your website provides an obviously bad user experience, you can expect the following:
When you work hard at SEO, the last thing you need is bad UX to drive your potential customers away. Prioritize your user experience to ensure that both visitors and search engines know your site is useful. It’s one of many reasons, we actually suggest a UX audit.
Many new digital marketers don’t realize that their free keyword research tools aren’t what the pros are using. If you’re using a free keyword research tool, it’s not likely to produce accurate results.
Free tools will give you estimated results, but it’s not based on actual searches. However, there was a time when everyone had access to Google’s search data and it was a goldmine for SEO.
Back in 2011, Google began encrypting searches from logged-in users. Encrypted searches don’t pass on the search terms to analytics software, including Google Analytics. In the beginning, not everyone was affected. However, as of 2017, no search terms are passed to analytics software at all.
If you’re one of the lucky advertisers who meets Google’s unannounced threshold for monthly spend, you can use the keyword planner to do some fairly accurate keyword research. However, it’s still not as accurate as past data.
Even though Google doesn’t make its search data public anymore, there are paid keyword research tools that get closer than others and provide additional insights that will prove most valuable to your SEO efforts.
One of those tools is SEM Rush. SEM Rush offers 6 SEO tools to help you find the right keywords and phrases to target. You’ll get:
SEM Rush isn’t the only keyword research tool on the market, but it’s been around for many years and has a fantastic reputation. There are both free and paid accounts and you can get extreme value even from a free account.
If you want top-notch results without going through an SEO agency, you need to use the same tools the marketing agencies use.
One of the most effective SEO hacks of 2021 is forming real, genuine connections with other businesses and people. While it’s never a good idea to enter into a link exchange with random websites, it makes sense when you’re actually partnering with the other company.
This isn’t a hack that will get you hundreds of backlinks or even twenty. This is a hack that will get you one or two strong backlinks that will pull some serious weight. For example, when you’re mentioned as a trusted partner on another company’s site, those visitors will click to explore your site.
You’ll get organic, relevant traffic, which, in addition to generating sales, will signal to the search engines that your site is active and relevant.
The best backlink hack is one that requires extra time and effort: building a strong backlink profile that appears natural because it is natural.
At first glance, that doesn’t seem like much of a hack. Hacks are supposed to make things easier and faster. However, building backlinks the right way is a hack for long-term success and will save you time and money in the future.
When you build backlinks correctly and naturally, you won’t have to redo your work when your links get removed or your link farm publishers get de-indexed.
Building a strong and natural backlink profile isn’t hard; it just takes planning and effort.
Here’s a general overview of what’s needed to build the kind of backlink profile that will last long-term:
Your main focus and top priority in a link building campaign should be to provide value to readers. That will probably require you to write new content for your website.
Take the time to craft high-level, in-depth pieces of content for your visitors. Then, pursue backlinks for that content. If you don’t know where you may have already acquired backlinks, we suggest using our free backlink checker tool.
If you’re working with an SEO agency to generate backlinks, they will take their time to acquire each backlink for you through existing partnerships with publishers and by utilizing top-notch content writers to craft your content.
While you’re not paying for the links themselves (paid links are not recommended and are illegal according to search engines’ TOS), you do need to pay for the content that contains your links.
Avoid renaming and deleting pages unless it’s absolutely necessary, in which case, be sure to create a 301 permanent redirect. Use redirects sparingly. Also, make sure your new page contains the same or similar content as before so your backlink remains relevant.
Although schema markup is an extremely powerful SEO tool, it’s underused. Schema markup tells a search engine to display additional, supplementary information underneath the main listing in the SERPs. The supplementary information you display could be anything, including hours of operation, event dates, or a short list of services you provide.
Using schema markup won’t necessarily help you rank; rather, its purpose is to help users identify useful content. Therefore, schema markup is a fantastic way to get more clicks from search results.
Neil Patel provides a great example of schema markup in action along with more information about how to implement this overlooked SEO tool.
Internal links have always played a major role in SEO. They’re useful for helping users navigate your website, but internal links help your site rank better. Internal links also make it easy for web crawlers to find additional content on your website to index.
The further search engine spiders can crawl your site, the more content will get indexed. Internal links give search engine spiders an easy path to crawl your website.
This is a simple hack. Find out where your competitors are getting their backlinks and then pursue backlinks from the same source.
You can use our backlink checker tool to find out where your competitors have links. If your competitors are way ahead of you in terms of backlinks, contact us and we’ll help you improve your backlink profile.
SEO is all about optimizing your webpages to rise to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). However, it’s also about getting people to click on your pages. You could have the number one spot for every keyword you’re targeting, but if nobody clicks, your rankings are worthless.
When you actively pursue a strong, intentional reputation management strategy in public, you can prevent people from dismissing your brand while increasing the traffic to your site. For example, if people are saying bad things about your company or products online, those webpages will come up in the SERPs. When you don’t control those pages, you can’t take them down or de-index them.
What you can do is get engaged in the conversations taking place on discussion forums and review websites to manage your reputation. The way you do that is by working hard to publicly solve everyone’s problems.
Address complaints in the open. Ask upset customers how you can solve their concerns. Ask if they’d like a refund or exchange. Ask how you can make your product better. Really make it clear that you are listening and taking their feedback into consideration. Then, when you resolve someone’s concern, thank them for expressing their concern and let them know to contact you again if they have any further concerns.
By doing all of this out in the open, you’re showing people that you handle concerns and go the extra mile to make sure customers are happy. That way, when those pages appear in the SERPs, you won’t lose customers who think you’re not paying attention.
Asking for link credits never hurts. If you’re working with a client or vendor that has a popular brand, ask for a link credit. They might be willing to link to your site to acknowledge your partnership or business association.
Don’t be upset if a business declines. Sometimes companies are strict with their link policies.
If you want to get somewhere specific, you need to know your current position. If you’ve never had an SEO audit, you probably don’t know exactly where you are in terms of your SEO efforts.
Get a free SEO audit and find out where you stand. If a free audit turns up problems, we can help you fix those issues by first taking a deep dive into your website and creating a plan of action to resolve the issues we discover.
With an SEO audit, you’ll know exactly where your backlinks are published and if there are any problems preventing your most important webpages from being indexed.
Expert round-up posts are great for SEO because they contain plenty of LSI keywords, including multiple names from a given industry and cover a variety of important sub-topics. All you need to do is choose several key people to interview about a given topic and then craft a blog post that present their point of view or advice on the topic.
You can also create an expert round-up post using facts, strategies, and statistics. However, posts containing expert advice you personally collected will be the most effective.
In addition to being great for SEO, expert round-up posts make phenomenal link-bait. Not the kind of bait associated with trickery, but the kind of bait that people can’t resist linking because the content is too good to ignore.
Marketing expert Neil Patel says expert round-up posts will skyrocket your traffic and he’s right. When you create an expert round-up blog post that provides true value to your audience, other bloggers will want to link your content naturally.
Placing your link in your signature on discussion forums is an indirect way to influence SEO. If any pages from the discussion forum get indexed in the search engines, users might see your link in your signature and click.
This isn’t the best method to acquire links and traffic, but you’re definitely losing some traffic if your link isn’t in your forum signatures.
Some people say guest blogging isn’t worth pursuing, but it all depends on your intentions. The right guest blogging opportunity can be extremely helpful. The key is to pursue opportunities that would be a win-win for you and the publisher. You don’t want to go searching for all the guest posting opportunities you can find and then start submitting articles to all of them.
Guest blogging just to get links is a losing strategy because most blogs that offer guest posting opportunities don’t have quality control. Your amazing content could end up getting mixed in with extremely poor content.
Be selective when pursuing guest posting opportunities. Find one or two high-quality blogs that reach your audience and try to get a guest posting position regardless of whether they advertise the opportunity. Chances are, you’ll get higher quality opportunities from blog owners who don’t advertise.
Another way to boost your ranking in the search engines is to comment on industry blogs with amazing responses that aim to help other posters in big ways. On most blogs, each time you comment, you’ll be able to link your username to your website.
Links in blog comments don’t carry too much weight in the search engines, but if the blog is big enough, it will help a little bit. If you’re truly passionate about your industry, commenting on blogs will be a fun experience and you can probably generate some traffic and sales.
Who are the big players in your industry? Articles that feature prominent industry professionals and influencers seem to be scarce online. Once in a while you’ll find a biographical article about someone after they’ve done something news worthy, but it’s rare.
Make a list of the top movers, shakers, and influencers in your industry and plan to write a featured article on each of them. People will be using search engines to find information about these people, so make sure you cover as much of their life and contributions as possible.
Publishing high-quality video content is a fantastic way to get ranked in the search engines. There is an art to video search optimization that applies to standard search engines and sites like Bitchute, Vimeo, and YouTube.
A surprisingly low number of people actively optimize their videos for search. That’s too bad because they’re missing out on potential traffic. Properly optimized videos can show up in both standard search results and the results under the “videos” tab on popular search engines.
What’s best kind of video content to produce? Anything that explores your niche in-depth that also provides helpful, interesting, or entertaining information to viewers. How-to video tutorials are popular and will probably never go out of style. You can also create videos that address people’s questions or provide troubleshooting tips.
People love free tools. People love free web-based tools that perform the same or similar functions as paid tools. If you can create a free web-based tool with an attractive and easy user interface, your website is likely to be linked all around the internet.
First, think of all the tools people might find useful in your industry that can be built into a website. Contact a software developer to find out if your idea is realistic and if so, how much it would cost to develop.
If your tool idea is really good, it’s worth the investment. However, if all you want to provide is a simple calculator, you can find free scripts that have already been written that you may be able to implement on your own.
You’ve probably noticed that some websites and blogs are filled with sub-par content. Whether it’s spelling and grammar mistakes or rambling copy, it’s not a good situation for the website owner.
When you find poor content on sites that look like they might have a decent readership or customer base, offer to write some high-quality content for the owner. In exchange, ask if you can include a link back to your website within the content you write. If that’s all you’re asking for, and the website owner knows they need help, it will be a done deal.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are keywords that are related to your main topic. For example, LSI keywords for a chef’s website would include words like frying pan, flour, sugar, butter, kitchen timer, and thermometer.
Technically, synonyms are LSI keywords. However, both need to be considered separately when planning out content to ensure they’re used appropriately. It’s a little harder to train yourself to automatically use synonyms.
The easiest way to make sure you cover important synonyms is to identify the top three words that have common synonyms. For example, the words ‘car and ‘vehicle are interchangeable. Similarly, when writing about the medical profession, use the terms ‘doctor,’ ‘physician,’ and ‘medical professional’ interchangeably throughout the article.
Search engines now treat certain sets of synonyms as if they are the same word. For instance, the terms doctor and physician are already programmed in Google to come up in searches no matter which word is actually typed.
Treating terms interchangeably can be problematic in some professions, like law. For example, although the terms ‘attorney’ and ‘lawyer’ are used interchangeably, they’re actually different. The difference matters to clients, but search engines aren’t programmed to accommodate this important nuance. Even so, the power of LSI is so big, both attorney and lawyers will benefit from using both terms in their copy.
Using synonyms and LSI keywords in your copy gives search engines more clues about the content context, and relevance of each page. While you don’t want to overdo it, find a way to use a variety of words naturally in your copy.
YouTube is a powerful search engine. The content returned just happens to be all video content rather than copy and images. When you have a YouTube channel you can optimize your video titles, tags, and descriptions for YouTube users. Plus, you can link back to your website, which will help your site’s SEO.
YouTube videos also come up in search results on traditional search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Having a YouTube channel increases your chances of being seen in the search engines in two places – the standard SERPs and the results under the video tab.
This technique is tedious, time-consuming, and may produce dead-ends. However, when you find the right match, you could end up with an extremely valuable backlink.
The way this technique works is fairly simple. First, you search the web for webpages that link to content in your industry where those links are now returning 404 errors. Then, you create a piece of content similar to what the link used to provide, publish it on your website, and contact the website owner to see if they’ll replace the broken link with your new link.
If it’s not entirely obvious what the 404 content used to be, look up the page on archive.org to view a cached version. If there is no cached version, do your best to create content that would work as a replacement.
For this technique to work, you really need to be selective about the publishers you pursue. Many publishers don’t read their emails and some will just ignore your request. You need to target publishers that read their emails and take an active interest in keeping their blog up-to-date and healthy.
Remember, 404 errors can hurt a website. Making this point (gently) will help you get the links you’re seeking.
Although Google has started to drastically reduce the ranking power of discussion forum posts, forums are one of the best ways to get user-generated content. User-generated content is great because it tells the search engines your site is active and fresh content is always being published.
Ranking high just by having a discussion forum isn’t realistic. However, having that constant stream of fresh content will help you stay relevant in the search engines’ eyes.
Are you brave enough to link your website on Wikipedia? It’s tough, but not impossible.
Unless your website is literally full of expert industry content, the chances of your link sticking as an external link is slim. Likewise, the chances of your link sticking as a source is slim unless your site looks like a reputable resource in your industry.
The trick to getting Wikipedia links is creating content with the intention of adding the link to Wikipedia. That way, you can meet all of their requirements and include plenty of citable, notable facts, data, and statistics.
There’s no guarantee that any of your links will stick, as even the editors on Wikipedia disagree on which links should stay or be removed. It’s definitely a challenge, but if you can manage to get a couple of links, it’s worth the effort.
Current affairs and world news make wonderful topics for SEO. You could write blog articles about current events for your own blog or write commentary for other publishers to get backlinks. Both strategies are effective and will help your pages rise in the SERPs.
You might want to stay away from politics and religion, that is, unless your blog is already controversial or leans toward either subject.
Going back to user experience, navigation matters. Search engines can tell if your navigation is user-friendly or not. If not, your site could get suppressed in the SERPs.
Perfecting your navigation is a must, and it’s not hard. Here’s what you can do:
With clean and easy navigation, search engines will know your user experience is smooth.
Did you know that linking to low-quality sites can hurt your website’s ranking?
When you link to other sites to support your assertions or quote statistics, make sure you only link to authority sites. The definition of ‘authority site’ is subjective, but generally speaking, an authority site is a website with quality content, a good reputation, and is free from spam.
Another consideration is to use the nofollow tag to tell search engines not to pass “link juice” to the website you’ve linked.
The best way to outdo your competitors is to look for all the flaws you can find and then fix those flaws on your website and in your SEO campaign. Then, go one step further and analyze what your competitors are missing and then fill in those gaps.
For example, say you’re running a website designed to educate people about cybersecurity. Clearly, given the subject matter, you’ll have plenty of competitors. When you look at most cybersecurity websites, most of them cover current events related to cybersecurity and they document as many cyberattacks as possible.
What you probably won’t find on any of your competitor’s sites is a web-based searchable database that lists every breach in recorded history with an enormous amount of details pertaining to each breach.
Blog articles that discuss breaches are great, but a searchable database that provides instant results using AJAX is even better.
It’s important to remember that white hat SEO hacks are shortcuts for getting long-term results. There’s no easy and fast way to get massive results in the search engines without time, effort, and money.
The hacks outlined in this article are designed to help you get the results you want without spinning your wheels or pursuing dead-end, black hat strategies.
Ultimately, if you want a truly effortless SEO campaign, you need help from an agency. If you like the idea of pursuing these hacks, but don’t have the time or bandwidth to do it yourself, we can help.
Contact SEO.co today and tell us what you need. If you’re serious about taking your SEO game to the next level, we want to work with you.