Darth Vader is iconic. The Joker is legendary.
Villains can be cool. We get it.
But when it comes to search engine optimization, nobody likes the bad guy.
In the tech world, Black Hats are the bad guys. Black hat practices are actions that are disapproved, yet could help a page's SERP ranking. It's basically cheating the system.
Being a black hat is risky and unethical. While it can be advantageous, these practices violate a search engine's terms of service. If the cheaters get caught, their website gets banned from the search engine.
Instead, the best practice for you as an online marketer is to be a White Hat -- the good guys!
Do SEO the right way by avoiding black hat practices and focus on white hat link building. Keep reading for a guide to wearing the white hat.
1. Have Awesome Content
The core of any dynamic website is great content. Building links and getting hits means little if there's nothing cool to show your visitors.
Marketers have that phrase constantly drilled into their heads and are probably sick of hearing it. It doesn't make it less true.
Having unique content with relevant links and well-placed keywords is your best weapon. Content is the first and most important piece of white hat link building.
So what type of content is best for white hat SEO?
Newsworthy blogs and discussions are good for a short-term boost in traffic, but their relevancy will soon fade out. For white hat link building, the always-relevant "evergreen" pieces are your best friend.
Ultimate Guides/White Papers
These are your huge chunks of content that are full to the brim with information. The writing takes a common problem and presents solutions based on facts and examples. The writing could be relevant to someone at any point in the year.
Show Your Expertise
These pieces won't be light reading. They shouldn't be, because Google isn't a fan of shorter posts.
Longer content tends to rank better. This isn't because of the word count, but it is related to it. It's about what you do with those words.
If you're an expert on a topic, you can write more than 300 words on it. Long-form content gives you the space to be deep and detailed. It makes you look like an authority to both readers and to Google's algorithm.
Snag Those Shares
Besides being timeless and authoritative, white papers are great for white hat link building because they're shareable.
Some share it as a whole, but you can get another boost when people backlink to your post because the great information you included is relevant to their own discussion.
You could have a lengthy 2,000-3,000 word post, and get linked because of one statistic or factoid you shared. Cool, huh?
Much like the white papers, infographics are full of statistics and information, with the added benefit of being visually appealing.
Graphics are eye-catching, help readers understand the flow of thought, and are easily shareable. They're great for social media and they boost your backlinks when they're embedded on other websites.
Unfortunately, some people might be tempted to File -> Save your graphic and use it without linking to you, so it's always a good practice to include your website and logo in the design - preferably in non-cropable areas.
A New Age for Infographics
Infographics aren't as perfect for white hat link building as they used to be, but they can still help. The key now is to give them some support.
Gone are the days when an infographic was a stand-alone page with no other text or article paired with it. The best infographics are now used as complements to other writing. The writing supports the infographic, and the infographic supports the writing.
2. Do Some Classic Media Pitching
This may be old-school, but the traditional goal of getting a boost from a journalist is still helpful to your company.
But rather than trying to get a blurb in the newspaper, you're doing this for your white hat link building. You want your name and your links digitally published by news outlets.
Even with all the recent talk of "Fake News," getting linked by an established journalistic institution is still more influential than some random person's unauthoritative personal blog.
Here are some things to remember when pitching to media:
Journalists are busy folks and get tons of pitches a day. Be strategic with who you send an email or tweet to.
You'll have a better chance to work with a newspaper local to the city you're based in than a national outlet. If there's a columnist that focuses on your industry's beat, they're better to talk to than a general reporter.
"Existing" isn't news. A journalist won't just give you a shout out. Give them something newsworthy to write about.
Did your company reach a big milestone? Did you form a partnership with a local charity? Do you have a special event coming up that's open to the public?
Unlike with your evergreen content, timeliness is one of the most important newsworthy factors. If you have nothing newsworthy planned, you should start planning.
At most colleges that offer a public relations degree, students have to take some journalism courses, too. The schools want to put future PR practitioners in a journalist's shoes to teach them what a journalist needs to write a story.
This way, the students learn what they can do to help journalists and create a mutually beneficial relationship.
Be open and give the journalists what they need. Give them quotes, photos and video, sample products, and whatever else could help them write an article (but DON'T bribe them). Be available and return emails and calls quickly.
Concentrate on making all resources straightforward and accessible to the writer. They'll be able to write faster and more in-depth, meaning the links you get will bring even richer rewards.
3. Comment on Other Blogs
This step is a bit controversial, but even Google Webmasters use the practice from time to time. So, for now, blog commenting is still not black hat.
Commenting can be effective when done well. You get your links in front of more eyes and you build up a SEO-friendly web of links on external sites to your relevant content.
Still, you need to tread lightly when leaving links in the comments of other people's blogs. There's a thin line between good and bad practices.
Your Top Priority: Don't be Spammy
Having a generic copy-and-paste message overstuffed with keywords that you post on every major blog three times a day is only going to hurt you. You'll burn bridges and probably be wasting your time anyway, as comments are usually moderated and spam is filtered out.
Take the time to craft a message. That means reading the article you're posting on and contributing to the discussion in a meaningful way. The content you link to should support your claims and live naturally in context.
Rather than post useless spam, you've started a healthy dialogue about a topic you have interest and expertise in. If things go well, it could spark a new relationship with an influencer that opens a wealth of new opportunities.
Get Help with White Hat Link Building
Wearing the white hat takes time and patience, but Bear Fox Marketing is here to make it easier.
Bear Fox can help fuel your company's content marketing and make sure your website is following other white hat SEO best practices.
Contact us today to see how we can help your business grow. We'll even offer you breakfast... on us!