Google is kind of like Santa Claus. Just like the big guy, the search engine keeps naughty and nice lists. If you break the rules and make it onto the naughty list, your website or blog will all but disappear. Google will bury it in the search results, and it’ll be close to impossible to find.
That sounds pretty frightening, but you can stay off the naughty list by avoiding black hat SEO strategies like the plague. Black hat SEO refers to SEO strategies that break search engines’ rules. Instead of using black hat SEO, use the right white hat SEO strategies to move up in the search engines the safe way. You’ll stay on Google’s nice list and get a fair amount of traffic to boot.
1. Focus on Mobile
At the end of 2016, the desktop passed the baton to mobile devices and tablets. For the first time ever, internet usage on those devices was higher than usage on desktops.
Google took notice, and now, websites that aren’t mobile-friendly take a hit in the search rankings. Use a responsive website design so your site looks great on all devices. That will give you a quick boost.
2. Use Contextually Relevant Keywords
Back in the old days, you could stuff keywords into the text to move up in the rankings. Those days are long gone. Now, Google uses machine learning technology to check keyword relevancy. It can actually put the keywords into context to see if they make sense. If the keywords don’t add value to the text, your site will take a hit.
Fortunately, this is an easy fix. Come up with a list of contextually relevant keywords and incorporate them into your text. Avoid the urge to engage in keyword stuffing when you do this. That’s a surefire way to end up at the bottom of the search results.
3. Gather Backlinks
Backlinks have always been an important part of SEO, and that has not changed. Backlinko studied ranking factors and found that backlinks have more impact on rankings than any other factor.
Not all backlinks are created equal, though. You need to get links from high-ranking sites. Also, focus on link diversity. Don’t get all your links from the same site, or you’ll end up with diminishing returns.
4. Improve Your Site’s Navigation
Your site’s navigation impacts usability, conversions, and ranking. The right navigation structure emphasizes the most important pages on the site. Make sure the layout of your site makes sense. Can people quickly and easily get to the most important pages? If not, it’s time for a change. Switch up the navigation, so all the most important pages are within one to two clicks.
5. Use Headers
You should include headers in your content. This shows the search engines that your content is organized, and it makes it easier for visitors to scan and read it. That accomplishes two things. It lets the search engines quickly see the value of the content, and it keeps visitors on your page. That will give you a boost in the rankings.
6. Gather Google Reviews
Google reigns supreme on the internet, and its review system can help you get ahead of the competition. Ask people to leave Google reviews for you. This will build trust with customers, and it will help your business get noticed. Also, while Google has yet to admit it, many marketers believe that there is a direct correlation between the number of positive reviews a site has and its search engine ranking.
Get Started Today
It takes work to get your website on the first page of Google. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you implement these white hat SEO tips, your site will start moving in the right direction. You will start making progress, and before you know it, you’ll move past your competitors.
About the author
George Konidis is a digital marketing professional specializing in SEO. He has worked on some of the largest online brands in the world with an overall contribution of over 15 billion monthly impressions. George works with clients to help scale their search efforts, develop content marketing ideas and contribute to overall growth strategies.