Comprehensive White Hat Strategy That Won’t Get You Penalized
I have been involved in the digital marketing and SEO industry for 11 years and, in that time, I have seen the internet grow and develop in ways that nobody could have predicted. This experience has resulted in a deep understanding of the ways in which businesses, and even individuals with personal websites, can achieve more from their online presences.
By taking just a few simple tips into consideration, you can hugely increase your chances of ranking highly and enjoying the levels of engagement from your target audience that you desire.
Now, I can’t guarantee that these strategies will result in the number one position that you’re hoping for, but these strategies are more focused on increasing the amount of natural exposure that your site can enjoy and driving traffic to your website without the need for a search engine.
What Is Natural Exposure?
Natural exposure is when your website, or the content that you create, is shared from one user to another. If you’ve created your content cleverly, then every single time your content is shared you have generated a link.
Now, it doesn’t necessarily matter how this person shares your content, simply that it is shared – this means that whether your content is reposted onto a blog or linked to via social media, you are still generating interest in your website. These social signals are picked up by search engines, which then begin to question why people are sharing your content.
Natural exposure is all about getting noticed and driving interest in your website.
White Hat Strategies To Increase Your Website’s Social Visibility
1. Social Media – Focus On Your Brand Awareness, Build A Community; Engage And Interact With Your Followers
It might be true that social media will only have a small effect on your website in terms of search engine optimisation, but there are other advantages to boosting an engaging social media presence. Rather than focus on increasing your SEO-friendliness all the time, your social media should be more about building a relationship with your followers and fans.
This includes making certain that you are relaying relevant information, along with providing unique, captivating content that reflects your personality or your brand identity. In the same way, you need to talk about current trends within your and your audience’s sphere of interests.
But what’s that got to do with marketing? Well, by keeping your followers engaged with your brand and ensuring that they engage with content via your coverage can lead to high levels of continued engagement and growth. As they share your content, they will also provide you with those all-important backlinks to your site, which can drastically increase your reputation as an industry authority, boost your monthly visits and encourage interested users to spend much longer on your site.
Individually, these are great advantages, but when combined together they can be a great way to encourage your site to develop authority for particular search terms, increasing your site’s search engine rankings overall.
There are many social media sites available, and some will be specific to the type of content that you are sharing. For written content, the three major services that you need to be utilising are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
2. Increase Your Content Exposure – Share Your Content With Reliable Sites Across The Internet
There are a variety of places that you can use to share and distribute your content; these sites typically tend to attract a high number of visitors as they can be relied upon to provide high-quality content which offers advice, covers the latest trends and provides valuable and up-to-date information.
By submitting your content to these sites, you are effectively creating backlinks to your site, which can further work to increase your exposure. Four of the most common content sharing sites are Stumbleupon, Digg, Reddit and Mashable. Whilst these sites can be extremely useful, it is often worth finding websites which offer a focus on relevant topics to your website.
To make the most from these kinds of sites, you need to create content that is wholly relevant to your products, services or community, but at the same time attempt to target a wide, open audience. Remember, too, that people visit these sites, initially, to pass the time rather than browse through products or services.
The major key to creating articles of this kind is to avoid self-promotion or personal product promotion and talk, instead, about industry relevant news and developing trends. Most of the content on these sites is presented as though it were click-bait – therefore, you need to ensure that yours is as well.
Create content in a format which is understandable – for example, top 10 lists.
3. Create Relationships – Utilise A Blog For The Very Best Results
In the past, creating a corporate blog has been regarded as both a positive and a negative thing – in my experience; your website needs to have a blog of some kind for a range of reasons. However, there are still black hat blogging techniques, which are still in use today, which can actually hurt your online presence in a variety of ways.
Black Hat Blogging – Black hat blogging is when you create blog posts on websites which will accept any piece of content. You can tell these apart from good content sites as they will often demand a small fee for the privilege of hosting your content. Another great way to spot these untrustworthy sites is to check their last 10 blog posts – if they all contain multiple links to external sites, then the odds are that they are a black hat site.
By evaluating the content you can sometimes easily tell what the goal of the website is – for example, if the content feels more like a sales pitch, or if the blog posts have no overall topic.
White Hat Blogging – Getting your content published on high-quality white hat blogs and blogging sites isn’t easy.
In fact, these sites are so dedicated to only offering quality content that many business turn to black hat sites either out of desperation or, simply, because they are much easier than white-hat sites. Yes, it can be difficult to get your content onto white-hat sites, but be assured that the eventual pay off in terms of SEO and marketing make the effort with it.
You can find websites that accept guest posts easily enough, simply by looking for them via Google. Of course, not all of these high-ranking sites will be good ones, so you need to personally validate them and trust your own judgement as to where you would like your content to be displayed.
Validating A Site – An easy way to validate one of these websites is to use Alexa. Alexa is, simply, a traffic estimator and it can be an extremely useful tool when it comes to finding out if a site is any good or not. All you need to do is paste the web address into the search bar of Alexa, and it will display statistics about the site.
Two of the main stats that you need to look for are that site’s traffic from your country of origin and how low the site’s Alexa rank is – the lower the ranking, the better. Additionally, you can use Majestic to see how trusted the site in question is. With Majestic, you need to look at both the Trust Flow and the Citation Flow – the higher these are, the better the site is.
Once you have spotted your potential partners, then your best bet is to contact them directly. Tell them, in simple and honest terms, why you want to be published on their site, and how often you would like to contribute to the site.
Each site will have its own guidelines, and some will even have complete systems in place, so make sure to check for these thoroughly and follow them as best as you can.
4. Press Release And Article Distribution – Attract Relevant Customers, With Relevant Content
This is one of the oldest tricks in the SEO book and, as it has been penalized before, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be again. If you don’t take the time to validate the sites you use to submit your PR or articles then you could be in for a nasty shock in the future.
Many people are still choosing to use websites like ezinearticles.com – now, this is one of the oldest PR/Article websites in the world. There are many others, of course but I’m using this one as it has already been tangled in a Google penalty in the past; in fact, it looks to have been caught up in once more.
Basically, the idea of a PR/Article site is to get your content out there as fast as possible. The major problem with this is that the only people who actually want to visit sites like these are people, like yourself, who are looking to submit articles of these kinds. This means that, rather than being presented to the right people, they are wasted on disinterested readers who may only be scoping out the competition.
Best Practices For PR/Article Distribution
In my experience, you need to be actively searching and building relationships with news websites which are relevant to your industry. As many as 60% are likely to be happy to present high-quality content to their readership, but only so long as your content is not self-promotional. The only occasions in which you are able to promote yourself is if the article or PR that you have created is related to a new product/technology, or you want to openly talk about a recent project you have won or completed.
Once again, you need to ensure that the PR/Article sites that you have chosen have the right kind of traffic source. Capturing visitors is one of the main points of a content marketing strategy; remember, though, that your rankings for search engines will increase as you attract more and more visitors to your site.
5. Video Content – Hook Your Customers
More and more customers are consuming content as part of their conversion journey all the time, and I expect this trend to continue into the future. Why? Well, for one thing, it is now estimated that the average human attention span is 8-seconds; to put that in perspective, a goldfish has an attention span of 9-seconds.
With this in mind, if you want to appeal to your customers, video seems to be the winning content format. Videos are more important than ever before, particularly when used to advertise and engage with in social media – they have a hook which other forms of content struggle to match.
Websites who understand the potential impact of video on their customers have the potential to connect with their customers in new ways and let themselves stand out from their competitors; in fact, as many as 64% of interested customers will decide to purchase a product after consuming video content about it.
If the video content that you create is good enough, then it has a chance to go ‘viral’, which will really improve your audience’s awareness of your brand and can have an incredible impact on your profits.
After their “Smell Like A Man, Man” advertising campaign went viral, Old Spice recorded a 107% increase in profits over an extremely short period of time. That just goes to show the importance of great video content!
Key Ways To Make The Most Of Video Content Marketing
a. Use Your Video To Tell A Narrative
When it comes to video content, make sure to ask yourself why you are creating this content. If you’re creating it simply because it is becoming the ‘trending’, then there is little point in creating it. However, if you tie your video creation into your overall business story, then you can use it to support your entire business narrative and identity.
b. Develop A Video Creation Strategy
By ensuring that you have a cohesive strategy across your entire business, you can ensure that you do have a narrative which you can work within. You should always consider the different variations of video content that you can create, from simple, six-second Vines to Instagram segments, animated GIFs and dedicated, full-length videos.
c. Create A Video Distribution Strategy
If you don’t consider an effective way to distribute your video amongst interested parties, then you run the risk of wasting hard-work, in creating a video that no one would see. A solid distribution strategy needs to have a focus on multiple social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and even YouTube.
6. Building Citations – Localizing Your Business
Essentially, a citation in this context is a fancy term for business listings. Your first step in this process needs to be the set up of a Google Places account and make sure that you get verified. I would advice that you list your business on a range of websites, including Yell, 118 and their contemporaries, to match the information that you have provided in your Google Places account. This information will include your company name and your company’s address.
You need to make sure that your description for each site is as unique as possible. Citations are an extremely good way to localise your business, so that Google will show your company in its results for your local area.
There are a range of advantages to this strategy, including the simple inclusion of a backlink to your website.
7. On-Page Optimization
After undertaking research, I’ve found that the keyword density for a webpage is usually somewhere between 0.00% and 0.75%. Typically, the rest of these keywords are composed of synonyms, which are lexical terms that Google considers to be the same as the chosen keywords. This effectively stops keyword stuffing, which usually results in lower-quality content for the end-user.
Even though you might be lowering the amount of keywords in your content, you should ensure that they are still used in the page’s Meta Title, Meta Description and H1 (the main heading of the page), but try not to use this keyword in your other headers or more than once or twice in the content itself. Of course, this depends on the length of your content, but as a general rule of thumb I’d advise that you use, at most, one keyword per three hundred words.
Remember, too, that your keyword will likely appear on other areas of your page, such as navigation, so take this into consideration when creating or editing your content.
You can also find lexical phrases that Google believes to be the same by, simply, searching for them.
Furthermore, you can easily find other lexical terms by searching thesaurus.com, or looking in a traditional thesaurus, for relevant synonyms. You need to use your judgement as to whether a phrase is suitable or not, as they can appear unnatural within your content and give it the appearance of being ‘spun’.
This content is unique content that has been rewritten via an algorithm, which replaces certain words with synonyms whilst maintaining the structure of the article. This is typically a black-hat procedure and results in much lower-quality content than originally written and effectively researched content by someone who is actually passionate about what they are writing.
8. Image Distribution – Engaging An Audience With Visual Content
Today, people are driven by technology in everything that they do – whether they are working or enjoying some free time. You need to understand that people react much more effectively to visual content; images that can be seen – and engaged with – by many people that are more likely to bring in potential customers like no other medium can.
Image distribution and image marketing are two major digital marketing strategies which can help to attract a huge range of potential customers to your site. There are a variety of image distribution sites that you can use, particularly in the form of social media sites which can hugely increase customer engagement.
Using Instagram For Businesses?
Since 2010, Instagram has grown into the main social media platform with a focus on visual and graphic content. In 2014, more than 200 million people used this site on a regular basis, sharing their images and commenting on others and, above, engaging with other people.
Instagram can be hugely useful to a business as it enables you to reach out to a completely new demographic – this includes a global audience from all walks of life. If you’re struggling to make an impact with any demographic besides your target audience, then Instagram could be the ideal platform for you.
Although it might take a different format, Instagram is similar to every other social media platform – it has been designed for connection and interactivity. With that in mind, you need to ensure that you treat it in a similar way when it comes to management. You need to remain active on the platform and reply to user’s comments and questions.
Depending on your business, Instagram might be the perfect place to share images of ‘behind the scenes’ content. People and potential customers will appreciate the added personality and engage with the real, relatable side of your business – the human side.
Some Final Thoughts
By considering these simple points, and remembering to engage with your potential customers, you can create a complete digital marketing strategy to encompass every aspect of your business.
Above all, don’t forget the human side of your business – that is the kind of content that can drive huge levels of engagement and really cement your brand identity in the mindset of your potential customer.
These strategies have worked for me in the past, and are still working, but it is important that you find a style of online marketing that suits your business. I’d advise that you try out a variety of social media platforms and a range of different styles, before settling on your favorite and most rewarding one. With hard work and patience, you will discover a strategy that works for you and your business.
Remember, building a relationship with people isn’t a race, so remember to take time to understand your audience, get to know what they want from you, and do your very best to leave them satisfied every time they engage with your company.