Our company has always aligned itself with knowing, understanding, and using purely white hat SEO tactics to improve our customers’ websites for their businesses. One of our jobs is to keep a sharp eye out for any developments in terms of SEO as the years go by.
And boy oh boy, were there quite a few worth noting! 2019 saw not only the beginning of the mobile-first indexing rule, but also the (BERT) that Google rolled out. On top of that, the search engine continues to change its algorithm daily.
It’s hard to keep an eye out on Google (as we’ve mentioned in our previous blog post, which you can read more on here). But do you want to know something? It’s really easy to initiate these SEO strategies for your website. Not only are these white hat SEO tactics, they are tactics that can give your business’s website a much-needed boost in terms of quality and worthiness in your customers’ eyes. Here are five great white hat SEO tactics you can use for your business’s website right now.
- Topics AND keywords
Having keywords alone is no longer enough to create rich and high-quality content for your customers. Topics lately have taken the form of frequently asked questions, which you can see when you enter one on Google in the form of “People also ask”. For example, we asked the question “Why does my business need a website?” As you can see, Google naturally pulled up the following topics in response to our query:
Note that if we were to simply enter the keyword “website”, Google spits out a ton of results that may or may not even benefit the person using it. It also ranks businesses who are paying top dollar to get to the number one spot, usually in the form of PPC (pay per click) ads.
Which would you click on to find what you’re looking for? Us personally, we’d go with the questions and answers. And that’s what other customers are doing too.
We’ve talked about long-tail keywords before (you can read about it here), and you can kind of tell that the same rule of thumb is happening here: the longer the keyword or phrase, the greater the person’s intent for finding exactly what they need, which may be to get information before committing to buying a product or service. In this case, topics are an extension of those long-tail keywords which take the form of questions people are asking online. They can be keyword rich, but also relate to one another in terms of subject matter.
That’s why your future SEO strategy in terms of keyword research should include topics, not only single keywords. Doing so may give your small business the boost it needs to rank higher in organic results if you’re not running a PPC campaign currently. This tactic also counts as white hat SEO because it puts the customer’s interests first, while also pleasing the search engines (remember, Google ranks content written for humans higher than that of content written strictly for robots!).
- Google’s E-A-T
What is this exactly? E-A-T is actually very simple: it stands for “Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.” Google’s concern as of late is not with ranking “good” content, but with presenting content that is not inaccurate nor does it hurt the end user looking things up. Hence, E-A-T.
So what does this mean for your business? It basically means that Google will check your credentials and make sure your online reputation is both credible and trustworthy. It’ll be checking up on your reviews and feedback on customer service with a fine-toothed comb and focus on ensuring people are only getting great high-quality content, not just “good”, from brands that can be trusted. It is not a new algorithm that Google rolled out (we’ll go over one of their big ones later on), but it is a way to determine quality rating for content.
One thing you can do to accommodate E-A-T is by publishing your offline achievements, such as awards, online via your about page, as well as promote your presence in offline events and conferences online; you can announce that you’ll be speaking on social media, plus add these event announcements to your website if you want. Another good idea to ensure your authority is to use an author bio in your blog posts; that way you’ll be telling Google that, yes, your company can be trusted by people online as well as offline.
- Google My Business
Local SEO is going to continue to be a major benefit to your company and website this year and beyond, especially if you’re a smaller one. One of the best means of applying local SEO is to register your business to Google My Business. There, you can add photos and content about your company, register your website, and respond to reviews that people write and publish. You can also determine the exact locations you serve and categories that align with your business’s brand. If the locations you serve are super niche, you can mention these areas in your about section in Google My Business or on your own website. The contact page would be a good place for that kind of information.
If you have multiple locations for a physical office and are wondering what to do, the answer is not to create multiple listings of the same company. There’s now an option to manage your locations as well as register multiple ones on Google Maps and within Google My Business. It’s possible to have 2 separate listings if your company has 2 physical offices; however, be very careful with this because in order to make this listing correctly, your second location needs a unique phone number. If you don’t have a unique phone number (it’s the same as your main office), then don’t create the second listing. That way you don’t confuse both Google and your own customers when they try to find means of contacting you online!
- Optimize for mobile
Yes, even to this day there are still websites that aren’t fully optimized for mobile devices. This tactic is a little trickier because most of the time when people complain about a site not functioning properly, it’s likely because it was built to be responsive only on a desktop computer. Sometimes making a website responsive is all it takes to optimize a site for mobile, but there are other benefits to performing this white hat SEO tactic which we wrote about in a previous blog post.
Nowadays, most websites are built to be responsive across all devices, mobile or otherwise. However, if your website was built before Google’s mobile-first indexing rule was rolled out (we wrote a blog post about that too), then it’s high time for a new website. Why a new site as opposed to redesigning the old one? Because it will cost you more, as opposed to paying for a new website that’s built to be responsive and mobile-friendly from the get-go.
If you’re still confused about responsive sites and how they compare to mobile ones, we wrote about that subject too! You can click here to refresh your memory.
- High-quality content and BERT
In addition to E-A-T, Google rolled out yet another impactful algorithm update made to better understand the context behind words in 2019. It’s called the Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) and it is designed to help the search engine understand better what the words in a sentence means, but with all the context included.
What does this major update mean to us business owners? Basically, it will mean that content going forward will have to be even more well-organized and focused in terms of what it’s talking about. It does not mean that you suddenly need to optimize your website for purely long-tail keywords to please BERT, or that stop words such as “to” and “from” are more important in SEO now that BERT has been released. Rather, it will better understand a page of content that is naturally written as if it were for human conversation, and then that content would rank higher than an over-optimized page where the language is ambiguous.
You may not have to re-optimize your content at all after BERT, but at the end of the day, high-quality content is the way to go, even in in terms of SEO.
Need help with your business website’s SEO? Want to get started on using these white hat tactics and more? If your site is currently riddled with more black SEO tactics than white, or you’re new to getting a site at all, starting from scratch with a new site is less costly than it would to repair an older design. Give our professionals at V3 Media a call if you need assistance.