White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO: The first dumbest term in Search Engine Optimization.

Here is the second dumbest.

White Hat SEO is even more of a misnomer than Black Hat SEO.

What is White Hat SEO?

White Hat SEO is colloquially to refer to as safe, legit, or sustainable SEO practices, that you probably “should concentrate on”.

That’s really it!

“Good SEO”.

White Hat SEO is: The Light Side of The Force

It has a good connotation because “White Hat SEO” practices are typically more sustainable and less short lived than black hat seo.

If you have read our article about black hat seo then you know my feelings about labeling something Black vs. White hat in the SEO game because they are both the same.

At least with Black hat SEO the practices are a bit MORE shady. But with “White Hat SEO” this is totally a wrong definition because White Hat SEOs are 100% trying to influence/manipulate their search engine rankings. And that is definitely against Google’s TOS.

A better name for it would be “Hypocrite SEO”


Guys, I know we joke alot about bad vs. good in these Black Hat & White Hat debates, but the bottom line is this:

If you run a business that you want to spend time, money, effort & energy building for the long term – then it is probably best you try and stick to the least risky things possible.

I hope thats obvious.

Be safe out there, for the internet is dark and full of terrors (and GIFs, apparently).

So for the rest of the article, we will leave this philosophical debate and focus on giving you some actionable tips about White hat SEO.

White Hat SEO is: Safety First.

White Hat SEO, Explained

What Google wants you to do instead is “prepare” your content in a way that helps THEM organize it better.

Really, what they have done, is create this $80 billion dollar industry of people who are working for Google without Google actually paying them.

Google publishes their list of guidelines of what they WANT you to do (notice I didn’t say “a list of guidelines of what will make your site rank better”, although there is some overlap) so that you will spend your time preparing (optimizing) your website so it’s easier for their web-crawler, Googlebot, to understand your site better and make their life easier.

Here are some of Google resources for what you should do as an SEO (this would be the closest thing to White Hat SEO):

Okay so thats like 200+ pages of super boring dry reading.

I know you’re not here for that. #TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read)

The key takeaway here is that Google is not going to give out its secret formula to ranking on its search engine.

That would be stupid.

Instead, it’s going to publish a bunch of information (and much misinformation) that is actually geared towards making the algorithm’s job much easier. So it can take information of all of our websites (me and you included) and display it to it’s users on the SERP (search engine results page).

My prediction, is that one day Google SERP clicks are going to go so low, because all the information a searcher needs will be displayed ON the SERP, and there will not even be a need to click through to the actual website.

For example: no need to go to NFL.com anymore for the scores

So that is why “White Hat SEO” is a misnomer, just like black hat seo.

We SEOs use it to say “what kind of SEO tactics and tricks can we do that Google “approves”. But really, Google just wants you organizing your site, not building “good links” and “guest posting”, etc. More on this later.

White Hat SEO is: slower, but safer

White Hat SEO is the term we (not Google) give to label certain search engine optimization tactics/strategies as ‘safe’ or ‘sustainable’ for your website. Whereas Black hat seo would signify the search engine optimization tactics/strategies that are ‘risky’ for your website.

White Hat SEO Techniques & Tactics

So now that you understand what White Hat SEO is, let’s talk about some of the generally accepted white hat seo techniques, tactics, tricks & strategies that you can use in your business and feel generally safe about (there is always a risk of doing something wrong, or Google changing their mind about what they like, but you can’t live your entire life on what-ifs. Get out there and SEO a little).

Pro tip: One easy distinction to understand if what you are about to do is white hat seo vs. black hat seo, is look at how much automating & mass producing you are doing. If you are using bots, scrapers, spinners, and producing and/or sending out non-personalized information, it’s probably closer to black hat.

White Hat SEO Techniques, By Category:

  1. Local
  2. Link Building (Off-page)
  3. On Page
  4. Promotion
  5. Technical SEO
  6. Other

White Hat Local SEO Techniques

  • Claim your business on Google My Business
  • Claim the Foundational Citations (Yext, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo, Apple Maps, etc.)
  • Fully complete (filled out with descriptions, hours, videos, images, etc.) all your listings
  • Submit your business to trusted data aggregators

The foundations of establishing your business as an actual business (and not just a website) in Google’s eyes is to make sure your business is claimed & listed everywhere that Google expects a real business to be.

Next, you want to make sure that your business information is listed consistently & accurately across all these online directories, so Google will trust the information is up-to-date and reliable.

Check Your Business Listing Accuracy

If you have already claimed your Google My Business listing, I highly recommend you check your business listing accuracy across the web right now.

  • Associations & Organization Links – Get listed (and linked to) at the various professional organizations, associations, institutions, etc. that you are a part of.
  • Guest Posting – Find other websites in your industry and do contribute quality articles for them, so they can share more interesting information to their audience and introduce you at the same time (and link to you).
  • Outreach link building – Reach out to other relevant & trusted websites in your industry and show them the valuable content you are creating so they have an opportunity to share it with their audience (and link to it).
  • Social Foundations – Build & fully fill-out your social profiles (Facebook, Linkedin, Yelp, Twitter, etc.)

White Hat On Page SEO

  • Content Clusters
  • Create Unique & Valuable Content
  • Improve Content for UX
  • Informative Internal Linking
  • Naming Images
  • On Page SEO Optimization (all the standard best practices)

White Hat Promotional SEO Tactics

  • Promote your content on social media
  • Brand Building – Use PR, networking & advertising to grow your brand awareness

White Hat Technical SEO

  • Alt text – Add alternative text (alt text) to images
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Clean / avoid thing content
  • Create an XML sitemap
  • Eliminate Keyword cannibalization
  • Mobile optimization
  • No Index Non Valuable Pages
  • Page speed optimization
  • Setup Google Search Console
  • Schema Markup – Add structured data markup to your web pages to give Googlebot a clearer picture of what everything is.
  • Website structure

Other White Hat SEO Strategies

  • Analytics
  • Conversion Rate Optimization

Final Thoughts

The idea of putting everything about White Hat SEO into ONE article is insanity, so we didn’t even try.

This article was meant to be an introduction to what white hat SEO is, and some of the techniques & strategies that you can use to help improve your website visibility without too much risk.

If you want more information, actionable strategies, or even the exact processes we use to actually implement all of these things, be sure to join our SERP University community here.

Devin Schumacher

Devin Schumacher

Devin is one of the world's top search engine optimization experts, and the Founder of SERP Co.

11 thoughts on “White Hat SEO”

  1. So it sounds like “white hat SEO” is slow and steady wins the day as opposed to “black hat SEO” which sounds like “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

  2. When it comes to social foundations (social media), are there any you’d recommend over others? I’ve heard people say Facebook is better for one demographic as opposed to say, Instagram. Or are you better building accounts on as many social media platforms as you can?

    1. The idea is to build accounts on many platforms. Then, you will actually “tend” to your main ones 🙂

  3. I read about black hat SEO and white hat SEO vs. black hat SEO isn’t as cut and dry as people might think. While I think white hat SEO is the better way to go, there are times when black hat is your ideal solution.

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