SEO is a practice that consists of many different tactics, strategies and efforts. It’s an umbrella term that can cover a wide spectrum of different types of SEO techniques that will make your website more optimized for search engines.
Some websites will need more than one type of SEO than others. Knowing which types of SEO techniques your website needs puts you in a position to improve your search visibility for target keywords.
The following are some of the major types of SEO techniques that you should be aware of. All SEO practices can be classified into one of three categories: White, Black and Grey hat SEO.
Although it would be rare to find an SEO company that operates using black hat SEO, it’s important to know what it is and how it can affect your website.
#1-Black hat SEO
Black hat SEO has a very negative connotation attached because it consists of SEO practices that deliberately break the rules search engines try to enforce. Black SEO is any practice that is considered to “game the system” such as sneaky redirects, doorway entrances, automated link building, paid links and type of activity that provides an unfair advantage in the ranking.
Is blackhat SEO considered unethical?
Blackhat SEO is considered an unethical practice in the context of a client and SEO provider relationship unless the provider is being upfront with their practices and explains the risks. If not, the provider could be taking on high (and unnecessary) risks for a quick gain, jeopardizing the status of the clients’ website.
The penalties for violating Google’s SEO best practice guidelines and terms can range from a mild slap on the wrist (decrease in the ranking from an algorithmic filter) to a full-fledged de-indexation of your website (Google exile enforced by a manual penalty).
The only way to recover from a manual penalty is to reverse any wrongdoing and submit an appeal for re-evaluation. Even if your re-evaluation is approved, many violators have said their rankings are never the same and it’s more difficult to gain Google’s trust again.
For this reason, black hat SEO is not an option for most legitimate SEO companies.
#2-White hat SEO
White hat SEO is all of the recommended practices for developing a website and improving its search visibility that fall within Google’s guidelines. White hat practices include publishing high-quality content, natural link building, on-page optimization, and off-page optimization.
White hat SEO is usually a longer process because it takes time to develop content and even longer to accumulate links naturally. The fact that pure white hat link building takes so long has influenced even SEO companies to dabble in grey hat link building.
#3-Grey hat SEO
Grey hat SEO is just as it sounds. It’s the in-between area or “grey area” that neither completely falls within the guidelines, but is not exactly punishable by definition.
Link building, for example, is an issue that many SEO companies struggle with at scale because it’s important to get results for clients in a relatively short amount of time.
Google’s perspective on link building
According to Google, links should be acquired naturally, which means users not only have to find your website but like it so much that they link to it to share it with others. This is all good in theory but with 2 million blog posts being published every day what company wants to wait around hoping people are going to link to their website?
Outreach is a white hat SEO practice that is still heavily favoured by SEO companies because it’s reaching out to people asking them to link to your website. This can take an enormous amount of effort and time and at the end of the day, you’re at the mercy of other website owners to give you a link.
Enter grey hat SEO.
The devious nature of PBN’s
Many SEO companies will build their websites and link to their client’s websites. There are already a few of your reading this, pointing your finger and screaming,
“Witch! Black Magic! That’s a PBN! Private blog networks websites are illegal”
Fine. You may be right however, there is a grey area that this falls into when the website is built, developed and nurtured as a real, purposeful website. How can Google tell the difference between a PBN website and a normal website?
PBN’s were targeted a few years back when they were extremely effective and working to rank websites quickly. All you had to do was buy an expired domain, slap an article on the homepage and link to your website.
Here is what a bad PBN website looks like that leads to a Google penalty.
What about this website? Is it a PBN or a real website?
If a website is publishing articles regularly and has real traffic flowing through it, who’s to say it’s being used solely for link building?
That is an example of grey hat SEO link building-when white hat practices are bent to give more control over the links that a website acquires. It happens all the time and it works very well if you’re good at it.
#4-On-page SEO practices
The optimization of a web page can go into many different degrees of compliance. There’s the technical aspect of optimizing a page to account for what search engines reward as well as the overall user experience that it provides. After all, what’s good for users is good for search engines.
One of the more infamous forms of optimization is keyword targeting. To influence a stronger appearance in the search engines for a target keyword, the keyword should be placed in specific parts of a page to enhance on-page optimization. These areas include but are not limited to:
- First 100 words (the first paragraph is even better)
- Keyword synonyms in subtitles
- Image alt tags
- Meta Description
It’s important to note that this method of optimization is not as powerful as it used to be. The days of ranking pages according to keywords on-page is now over. Search engines will use the topical optimization of the page as a larger ranking factor.
Keyword topic optimization
It should be noted that search engines have evolved past the point of relying on keywords in the metadata to define what a page is about. The ability to provide information in a way that users engage with is a major aspect of how well your page ranks for specific search terms.
To improve the way your page performs in a search query it should have the ability to satisfy search intent by covering a keyword topic in its entirety (as it pertains to the search). This type of coverage creates a resource for users and makes the page relevant to related searches since it is likely covered within the content.
Search intent optimization
The true intent the user has for initiating a search is referred to as user intent and/or search intent. When a user can end their search on a page it is considered to have satisfied their need to search further and thereby satisfies search intent.
To enhance the ability of a page to satisfy search intent you can link to related content that enhances the user’s experience. The connection your page has to relevant resources improves the amount of information you’re providing to the user. This helps the user in their search and therefore contributes as a positive ranking signal for searches related to your keyword topic.
User experience optimization
One of the aspects of optimization means making your page more user-friendly by providing an enjoyable experience. This task can sometimes be fairly technical, while on the other hand there is a creative aspect to improving the user experience.
Page experience can be accounted for systematically since Google provides the exact formula for performance. Your website needs to perform in the following categories to be compliant:
- Core web vitals
- Safe Browsing
- No interstitials
On the creative side, the user experience improves according to your decisions regarding the uniqueness of your page. For instance, the type of multimedia you choose makes a difference to how the user interacts with your content.
If you have a video to explain your page, it provides an additional way for your content to be consumed. Since 0ver 70% of users prefer video as a means of learning about something, it means you’ve improved the user experience for at least 70% of your audience.
In some cases, having a slideshow may work even better than a video. As an alternative form of content, you can create a unique experience for users and in effect, separate your page from the masses.
Audio files and podcasts
Podcasts have taken off over the last few years and more and more people are gravitating towards them as they’ve found a place for them in their everyday lives.
Adding multiple types of media can improve the quality of your content and therefore help to rank higher in the search results. One way of looking at is to ask yourself,
“Would the world miss my content (or website) if it were to suddenly fall off of the face of the universe?”
If it would leave a gaping hole in your niche, then you know you’ve done a great job in providing users value in your content. If your pages are easily replaced and are as similar as everyone else’s, you have room to improve the quality of your page and content.
Optimizing your site off-page is one of the more well-known types of SEO techniques. Search engines, especially Google, consider off-page optimization to be a highly relevant ranking factor that can heavily influence where your website appears in keyword searches. PageRank is what Google uses as one of the major indicators for determining the order in which websites are displayed in the search results.
Establishing credibility and authority
PageRank refers to a page’s ability to rank based on a scoring system that is designed to reflect the popularity, credibility and trust of a website. PageRank is often misinterpreted as domain authority, which is also a term that alludes to ranking ability.
Domain authority is primarily based on backlinks, but rather than using Google’s proprietary formula, it is based on the quantity and quality of backlinks by third-party companies. These companies provide a metric for the authority of the domain as well as a page itself. It can be measured in a few different scales of measurement:
- DA/PA (domain authority and page authority) was invented by Moz.
- DR/UR (domain rating and URL rating) was invested by Ahrefs.
- TF/CF (trust flow and citation flow) was invented by Majestic.
Why is domain authority important?
The ultimate goal of any search engine is to provide the most relevant and helpful results to a user when they type in a keyword. To do this the search engines not only need to assess the relevance of the content, but also the authority and credibility of the website that has published this content.
How to improve domain authority and credibility
Authority and credibility are measured by the overall number of websites that vouch for their content by linking to their pages. The quality of the linking websites plays a big role in the impact of the links that are acquired.
To improve the authority your domain has in its niche you need to acquire backlinks from other quality websites that have authority and credibility in the same niche or a close vertical to it.
One of the first steps to building links is to acquire citations from popular directories and review sites. These types of sites are already trusted by search engines such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Manta, Foursquare, etc. They provide the first layer of trust and can be considered a natural way of acquiring backlinks.
Build high-quality links
As the name “The web” infers, the internet is a web of linked websites. The PageRank theory precludes that the most credible and popular websites should have the most backlinks because they are being shared the most because of the quality of their content.
The secret to a higher ranking is to therefore build high-quality links from websites that are relevant to yours.
What is a high-quality link?
A high-quality link comes from a website in which its visitors would be interested in your content. That would prove the relevance between websites and therefore be good for both users and search engines.
The linking website will power up this type of link if it has a high volume of search traffic or a high number of quality links (from websites that would be a good fit to link to yours).
The effects of a quality link should do one or both of the following;
Provide quality referral traffic: The visitors that arrive on your site via the link should be engaged with your content for the link to be effective. Engaged visitors eventually lead to a goal conversion-which can be anything from an opt-in to an email list, on-site purchase or a phone call.
Possess powerful authority: When a website’s authority metrics are powerful enough to lift your website’s authority metrics, it can be considered a good link. Higher authority means more ranking ability.
The off-page optimization is not only limited to external links. Internal links can also be a powerful form of optimizing a page for a keyword topic or specific search term.
Internal link building
You can optimize a page for a specific search term or topic by linking from other internal pages within your website. Internal links are a way of pointing users to relevant pages that relate to the content they’re currently consuming.
Make use of optimized anchor text
By linking with the keyword as anchor text you can enhance the optimization of a page. When search engines see that a specific term is being used to link to the page, it directly communicates the importance of the term.
There is the possibility of over-optimization so the use of keyword synonyms is highly recommended.
Share link equity
Internal link building spreads link equity. A page that has a high number of links, and therefore a high page authority, will pass on authority when it links to another page on your website.
Increase authority by sharing link equity via internal links.
Build topic clusters
Topic clusters are an effective way to create a content hub that links related content together. The structure of linked content will often point to one core page, known as the pillar page, which covers the topic in breadth.
Linking to a pillar page within a topic cluster improves the authority of the page, which contributes to higher rankings.
Not all off-page optimization comes in the form of content. There are also things you can do to improve the technical performance of your website and its pages.
The time it takes your pages to load is a direct ranking factor. Off-page optimization tactics could include the implementation of a CDN, choosing the best hosting options and leveraging browser caching-all tactics to increase page speed.
The issues that affect indexing can often be found off-page. For example, search engines use the robots.txt file as an instruction manual for which pages to index. If there’s a mistake in that file it could stop your pages from being indexed-which means no one will see them at all.
Negative SEO is a way of attacking the credibility and authority of another website by linking it to unrelated websites. This unethical practice is one of the types. of SEO techniques that usually come in the form of automated link building where the victim site is targeted and the software will automatically build thousands of links to its pages.
Google has become fairly good at detecting malicious attacks and will for the most part ignore massive amounts of links when it’s obvious they aren’t aimed at manipulating ranking.
The more devious attacks can be successful when the attacker uses relevant anchor text repeatedly and links to sites that will negatively impact credibility.
The solution to negative SEO
The solution to negative SEO attacks is to use the Disavow links tool. Google provides this tool to exclude links that are being built to your site which you can’t control.
Upload a disavow file to the tool and once it’s processed, the links will be discounted from your backlink profile.
This tool is a must if you’re issued a manual penalty for link building and can’t get the website owners to delete your links (as is commonly the case when links are automated).
Choose the types of SEO techniques that works best for your website
As you can see, there are many different types of SEO that are available to improve your search visibility as well as SEO practices to hurt your or other people’s websites. Not every website will require the same approach so it becomes necessary to prioritize a list of goals and assign the correct strategies and tactics to achieve them.
If you have any questions about the SEO strategy your website should implement, feel free to call or send us a message for full website analysis. Our team will develop a custom strategy to include the exact types of SEO techniques that make your site rise in the SERPs and dominate the competition.