Putting up a website may be hard, but maintaining it is harder. You need to regularly update it to continuously cater the needs of your target readers. And here’s the thing: You first need to convince your prospective visitors to explore your site. How do you do that? By promoting your website using your social media accounts? By talking to your friends about it? Those moves may help a lot, but there’s this one technique that you should learn. Ever heard of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? You need to practice it if you want to attract a large following. It is not an easy thing to learn and do, so you better start now.
Actually, we are not talking about a single technique. It is comprised of collective strategies and tactics to improve a website’s rankings in search results in different search engines. Obtaining high rankings is essential, for internet users usually don’t click all the pages in the search results. And so, higher ranks mean higher chances of getting a visit from target readers.
Practicing SEO is considered a skill; hence it takes time before you can actually learn to do it properly. Don’t worry; it is worth all the time that you’re going to invest. Now here’s the problem: Some webmasters become tempted to overuse this set of skills to hit their goals for their sites. For this reason, the terms white hat and black hat were coined. Practicing SEO the right way means doing the white hat, while practicing it the wrong way means doing the black hat.
Let us talk about the normal or the right way of doing SEO. Below are some of the white hat techniques:
Once you identify your chosen niche, you should start doing your research on the keywords or key phrases that users tend to type on search engines. Keywords may be short tail or long tail. The former is usually composed of two words (e.g. cocktail dress), while the latter consists of three to five words (order cocktail dress online). Short tail drives more traffic while long tail attracts more defined groups of visitors. For this, it is better to incorporate both types of keywords in your web pages.
It simply means getting links to your site. But take note that doing it is not simple. It may take time before you get it right. You can get links through the following: guest blogging, posting useful comments on other sites, content submission to article directories, getting listed to other bloggers’ blogrolls, and a lot more. In real life, you may compare it to distributing flyers or sending invitations to target consumers or visitors.
Each web page should have a unique and optimized title tag. The optimization is done by using keywords that are related to your company, products, and services. The title tag should be informative and catchy as well. But don’t make it too long. It shouldn’t be more than 70 characters (including spaces).
Meta descriptions are brief summaries contained in each web page. They should not exceed 160 characters (including spaces), and should mention a target keyword phrase at least once. Just like title tags, these summaries should be catchy, informative, and convincing.
A website is composed of different sections and pages. Users can usually explore a site through clicking the buttons displayed in the homepage particularly in the menu bar. But apart from these buttons, building internal links makes it easier for your visitors to explore your site. These are links that are incorporated in some pages through their contents. These are links that go from one page to another on the same website.
As mentioned earlier, black hat techniques refer to the wrong ways of practicing SEO. Below are some tactics that you should avoid:
This refers to the overuse of keywords. As you already know, using highly searched keywords is important when trying to obtain high rankings in search engines. But don’t do it too much. Placing too many keywords in your web pages is considered black hat and causes your site to be penalized. Instead of ranking high in Google, the opposite may happen. Apart from that, your readers may find it too hard to read contents that have too many keywords. If they keep on seeing contents like that, they might not want to explore your site anymore.
Another big mistake when using keywords is incorporating unrelated ones to your contents. For instance, you try to use a popular personality’s name even if he or she has nothing to do with your product or the main subject of your article. Don’t do that. It’s a form of deception, and can eventually cause your readers to lose their trust in your site.
Posting useful comments on other websites is one way to build links. But sometimes, it becomes so tempting to just post irrelevant comments with links to your site, and do it again and again. Dear, that’s not right. Being able to get links through posting comments is indeed a great thing; don’t be abusive of such opportunity.
This is another form of building links the wrong way. When you get links from other sites, it also becomes tempting to just seek links from whatever website regardless of their content. Well, you should resist the temptation. You should only seek links from websites with related and high-quality contents.
Take a look at this example: You were searching for some fashion tips for women. You clicked on a search result that claimed to contain information about the subject. But then, it turned out to be a website about a totally different niche. That is cloaking, and is another form of deception done for the purpose of increasing traffic.
Clearly, these black hat techniques originated from the natural or right ways of optimizing a website. They are basically the process of overdoing a tactic or resorting to techniques that mislead the readers.
As you see, SEO can really help a lot in increasing your website’s traffic. It is indeed a series of skills that you should learn, and you must do it the right way. Do it the wrong way, and the opposite of your goals may happen. In building a website, you should not only consider your own interest. You put it up to be viewed by your target visitors, right? Hence, you should cater their needs. Do what pleases them. Give them what they’re looking for. Do all of these things and your readers will surely return the favor. Establishing a website should be a way of building a give-and-take relationship with your audience. You wouldn’t want to ruin the connection that you have. You wouldn’t want to do something to lose their trust. You wouldn’t want to deceive them. For this, it is important to remember everything you have discovered about the white and black hat techniques. There are many more tactics that you should learn. Know which to apply and which to avoid.