SEO can be a time consuming endeavor, especially for those new to it.
Much like physics, ever action you take can have an opposite and equal reaction.
Taking this into account, here are 9 straightforward and easy to implement white hat SEO techniques that even beginners can take advantage of.
But first, whether you are a beginner or an expert SEO you need to understand that there is no magic bullet to getting to the top of SERP’s (Search Engine Ranking Positions). Although, some solid SEO tips can help.
Rather, there is a set of rules put forth by search engines that every site owner can address and thereby paint a perfect picture of what one’s website is all about.
By painting this picture in Google’s eyes and adhering to what their algorithm wants, it becomes much easier to create an authoritative website that ranks well.
Let’s dive in…
1. Page titles and descriptions
One of the most overlooked On-Page SEO factors on one’s website is the page meta titles and descriptions. These meta tags are one of the first things Google sees when crawling a website. This is the perfect place to add keywords to the mix.
Every page on your website should have a unique purpose.
For example, a Dentist’s home page should include a title incorporating the fact that this is a local business and what the business is.
You would be surprised at how many business label their home page title as the default “Home”. This sends zero confidence to search engines that this is actually a site for a local Dentist.
A better page title might be “Colorado Springs Best Dentist | Acme Dentist Services”. A much more descriptive title for your page and can capitalize on search results for terms such as:
- Colorado Springs dentist
- Best dentist Colorado Springs
- Acme Dentist Services (For those searching by brand)
- Colorado Springs Best Dentist
A much more telling story than “Home”. A big no-no for SEO.
Although not as important to rankings in comparison to page titles, the meta description is all about getting people to click on your listing vs the other 9 results on the page.
Also known as click through rate, you want your description (which can now be up to 320 characters) to drive as many clicks to your site as possible.
What separates you from your competition, and how do you stand out?
First, you want to be honest about what your website is about. You should never present your listing in a grey light. Doing so will create mistrust among users and ultimately they will go directly back to the search results causing them to bounce (pogo sticking).
High bounce rates show Google that your site is not worthy of the results and with the introduction of RankBrain, an AI search bot, Google will take note and devalue your website as a result.
Your description should be a quick and well written synopsis of what the page is all about. The copy should be enticing and promotional leading into what the person is searching for. It is a great place to add keywords that people typically find you with. The searcher knows exactly what they want based on the keywords they input into Google. Your description should always follow suit.
2. Permanent Linking Structure
Permanent linking structure has a very official sounding name to it, however it could not be more simple. This basically refers to the how the URL reads for a post or page in the browser’s address bar.
This is the perfect place to add keywords into the mix and believe it or not, this is something Google’s web crawlers look at to help you rank.
We are telling the complete story about your website and anything you can do to give Google a clear picture is the name of the game.
Here are some items to keep in mind when creating your webpage URL’s
- Keep them clean and short
- Incorporate keywords
- Only use hyphens “-“ to separate words
Examples of good URL structures:
You get the idea….
The idea is to incorporate keyword rich “telling” terms of what the website encompasses and is about.
To change your permalink on WordPress go to Settings > Permalinks.
3. Using Headers Properly
Headers are basically that. The title or lead in of an article or content. I am referring to the html code: H1, H2, etc. that leads off paragraphs in content. Google sees these as important. So should you.
Starting with H1’s, their rules are simple. These stress, like the other headers the main “subject of the page” and Google takes action appropriately. You should only use one H1 tag per page as this is the main header and will confuse search engines when more are used and devalue your rankings.
H2’s should be similar to H1’s. A good place for keywords, but a good practice is to base this on sub-subjects for the page.
For instance, if your page is about a dentist then a good H2 tag could be about one of the services the Dentist provides followed by content in regards to the H2 tag.
Pro tip for the WordPress WYSIWYG editor: You can select the words that you want to use an H2 tag on and then press ctrl+alt+2 to make them into H2.
Similar to H2’s but not as important. These should be used as sub-topics inside H2 tags but are not always necessary.
By incorporating these tags into your webpages, you are reinforcing what your website is all about.
4. Speeding Up Your Website
Speeding up a website will not only improve its rankings but also improve your user experience (UX).
There are several things you can do to help with website speed
- Upgrade your hosting
- Compress your images so they serve faster
- Reduce the number of images on a single page
- Use a CDN (content delivery network) to serve websites faster across the globe
5. Internal Linking
By connecting pages on a website using keywords as the anchor text, you are in an essence creating backlinks internally to your sites pages. This helps users and search engines alike, by connecting the topics of your webpages together.
By using keywords to connect pages, you are telling Google what the page the link goes to is all about. This also sends link juice to that page increasing the page’s authority. It is almost like a page is vouching for another page and giving its recommendation of content found there.
A couple things to keep in mind. You want to push these internal links to the pages you want to rank for. If you don’t want to rank your “Contact Us” page, then don’t force a ton of internal links there. Instead, push links at those pages you want to rank for such as the home page or an important promotions page.
6. Image Optimization
Image optimization refers to using images in order to advance rankings.
Yes, there is even a separate search engine that is strictly for images, however there are some items we can address with images that will help with Google’s standard search engine as well.
Again, your image should be nice and compressed to increase page speed, but more so than that you should always name your image file using keywords for your site.
Forget naming your images 268767sdfsd.jpg or image1.png.
This tells Google nothing about the image.
Instead try for something keyword rich. For example, if you have a Dentist’s website then perhaps an image file with the name Chicago-dentist.jpg will serve you better.
On top of this, it is always a good idea to incorporate keywords into the alt tag of an image.
The alt tag was designed to give the visually impaired an idea of what pictures are all about. If Google thinks you are trying to make a page that is accessible for all then they are more likely to up rank your website. Keywords are important here as you can imagine.
7. Using Search Console
I could go on for days about Google’s Search Console. This powerful tool is a must for all website owners, especially those wearing those white SEO hats.
This is the place you can go to tell Google exactly how you want the search results to appear for your website, which version of the website to use, Google even tells you how people found your site using what keywords and above all else, if there is an issue with your site that needs immediate attention.
This, in fact is the only place that will tell you if your site has been compromised by hackers or if you have any penalties affecting your site. Google will not send you and email to let you know. You must go here.
Search Console also allows yo to submit sitemaps to tell Google what and where your pages are located. Anything that helps Google understand your site better will ultimately lead to better rankings. Here are other SEO tools you can use.
We mentioned this above, but why is a sitemap important?
A sitemap, submitted to Google’s Search Console is a powerful thing. It helps Google to index your site and tells them exactly where the site is, so you don’t have to wait until Google finds you (which may be months or never).
It also gives them a roadmap to every page and the ability to upgrade or downgrade a page’s importance.
There really is no downside to having a sitemap and they are extremely important on sites that create dynamic pages, if you have few external links pointing to your site such as a new site and if you have a huge site with many pages.
9. Create Long Form Content
(Bonus added by Alejandro)
Google loves content and so do its users.
If you are looking to rank #1 on Google, then you should consider creating blog posts that cover topics in depth.
As you can see below, word count does have an effect in the SERPs, with blog posts over 1900 words ranking among the top results.
Writing lengthy blog posts allow you to increase the time that a visitor spends on your site, reduce the bounce rate and also include various keyword variations naturally.
All of this will contribute to a healthy white hat SEO profile.
There you have it. 9 simple white hat SEO tips you can use right away to help your website rank better in Google’s and other search engines.
By creating a big picture for search engines using these little steps is what white hat SEO is all about.
You are telling a complete story with each and every effort you put forth.
Which SEO techniques are you already using?
Liked this article? Check Mike’s work at the Infront Blog.