Search engines such as Google have the mission of delivering the best results when someone completes a search. They want users to have a great search experience and ensure they don’t include spam in the results they offer. They do this automatically through algorithms or manual actions aimed at recognizing and penalizing those who engage in good SEO and penalizing those who practice lousy SEO.
What does that mean to your healthcare practice? Appearing in search results is crucial to your business growth, but there is a right and wrong way to optimize your search engine.
Black and White Hat SEO
Black Hat and White Hat refer to different ways of approaching SEO. The name comes from old Western movies when the villain would wear a black hat, and the hero would wear a white hat. In regards to SEO, Black Hat means someone who games the system and looks for quick wins. White Hat means following the rules and focusing on long-term strategy.
Let’s learn more about each technique.
White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO is about the use of strategies and tactics that target a human audience. The list of White Hat techniques reads like a list of SEO best practices:
- A well-designed website. Proper SEO web design offers your prospective customers a seamless experience. Every millimeter of the site is consistent and user-friendly on any device. It guides a visitor gently yet intentionally through content, features, pricing, and wherever else you want them to go.
- Regular, unique, high-quality content. The most crucial element of modern-day SEO is quality content written for the reader’s benefit, not the search engine. Search engines like it best when it comes out at regular intervals, and isn’t copied directly from another site.
- Natural backlinks. Authoritative inbound links that are organically gained have always been essential elements in your SEO efforts. It takes time and dedication to achieve authoritative inbound links. Still, the tremendous impact on how you rank in Search engine results pages (SERPs) and increased overall traffic on sites make White Hat efforts worth the time and cost.
White Hat methods are more likely to stand the test of time. As they follow the current guidelines set by search engines, they are unlikely to be penalized in the near future; this makes it a great long-term strategy for your healthcare practice.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO is all about using techniques that break the rules put in place by search engines. Black Hat SEO is focused solely on search engines (bots) and not so much on a human audience. It aims to trick search engines into higher ranking on search results for their specific websites.
The Black Hat tactics deemed misleading and in breach of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines include:
- Keyword stuffing: This is where websites contain content with irrelevant keywords in an attempt to manipulate the ranks on pages of search results. Adding multiple keyword variations where they do not add any value creates a bad user experience. It can also cause a page to rank for irrelevant queries.
- Hidden text or links. Hidden text is when websites hide text in the background, for example, by using white text on a white background spelling out the keywords of the website. Hidden links involve hiding a link by linking only one small character – a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph.
- Link schemes. This involves paying for other websites to link to your website, thereby increasing the number of backlinks to your site artificially. Link schemes are a breach of Google’s official guidelines for webmasters.
In the short term, Black Hat techniques might work. It is typically used by those who seek immediate and rapid results, rather than a long-term investment. If (or when) the search engines discover these techniques, however, then the effects may be short-lived, and it will take months for your website to recover. This is why it is best to follow the SEO guidelines and use only White Hat techniques.
It takes time to practice White Hat SEO. To achieve significant results, it takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, and often resources. As a result, you might be tempted to look for Black Hat shortcuts to speed up the process. But when it comes down to it, the potential rewards aren’t worth the risks.
Invest in a White Hat approach with us here at Dr. Websites, and in the long run, you’ll be far more successful — without having to worry about algorithm changes or potential penalties. Contact us today to learn more!