- A white hat SEO company will not guarantee you will come top for specific keywords.
- Black hat SEO companies will only achieve short term success by concentrating on search engines.
Search Engine Optimization is never black or white, or is it? We talk to White Hat Media's Romain Romagnan about black hat and white hat SEO, and on how to avoid rogue traders.
For those not in the know, the difference between wearing a black hat and white hat in SEO terms goes well beyond color or making a fashion statement - it reveals the whole ethical foundation upon which a company stands.
Beware those in black hats: they may look like magicians, but they can trick anyone with a hocus pocus of promises they can’t keep - which could make your dreams of good search engine rankings vanish into thin air. Thankfully there are SEO companies who avoid all risk of confusion - like White Hat Media.
The company, based in East Sussex, England was set up in 2003 as a web development agency by Kevin Elliot and Jeremy Spiller, who between them have more than 20 years experience in IT and New Media. Since then the company has grown arms, legs and a head to encompass a range of new media tools such as e-marketing and Pay Per Click, as well as helping companies set up online shops and, the golden jewel in their crown, SEO services.
To find out more, [Wordtracker] spoke to Romain Romagnan, a search consultant who has been with White Hat Media for a year.
“Most people don’t realize what ‘white hat’ means in our name but it’s because we are a white hat SEO company. White hat uses all the right techniques to get your site properly geared up to reach high on Google for key phrases. Black hat techniques will hide content from the reader. White hat SEO is just thinking about the reader and the search engine, whereas black hat SEO is thinking about the search engine first.”
With many SEOs out there luring customers with impressive promises, Romagnan said people should be wary.
“A company doing white hat SEO will not guarantee that you will come top for keywords. No SEO company can guarantee that because you don’t know the competition, or how things may change in your industry. So make sure they are not making big promises, because it’s more than likely they can’t keep them.”
So when a client comes to White Hat Media looking to take advantage of their SEO expertise what are the first steps?
Romagnan said: “We tend to have a look at the website and then ask for about 12 keywords they wish to target or which they want to come top. “I think what surprises people most about keyword research is that sometimes when you add an ‘s’ to a word (to make it plural) it can have a big effect on the keyword rankings. Or sometimes little things like having two keywords inverted can make a difference too, these are the kinds of things people don’t realize when they do keyword research.”
It’s clear from White Hat Media’s homepage that they are proud of the SEO services they provide. They have developed a great tool for companies to use to test how ‘search engine friendly’ their website is. As a prospective client you are taken to a list of SEO tools such as Alexa Rank where you can track the amount of traffic coming through your site and compare that to your competitors'. White Hat Media also offers a range of other tools in this section including keyword suggestions, keyword position and density, a back-link checker and a tool to discover your site’s link popularity. As you begin to learn about the ways in which people are searching for your site, and how your site is interpreted by the search engines, you can use these valuable tools to set about optimizing your site. To gauge how effective your SEO work has been you can revisit Alexa Rank and see for yourself how much additional traffic you have achieved and whether you have eclipsed your competitors.
Over recent years SEO has crept into the foundations of online marketing, as Romagnan explains.
“We do SEO for people when they want email marketing and need to issue newsletters. We do it mainly for calls to action and to get the right keywords to appeal to the customer and give a clear message to the customers as quickly as possible.
“I think most people forget that creating a call to action on their site is very important - sometimes it seems like they forget about it.” White Hat Media show their customers how to capture email addresses on their website, and how to create strong copy and good quality templates for email marketing campaigns.
On their blog, White Hat Media makes it clear that customers should be thinking about writing good copy for their website because, “Google loves content.” The blog goes on to suggest that people should “stop writing rubbish for your website” and think creatively about what is relevant.
White Hat Media's Papers and Articles section is a triumph. In the pull-down menus at the top, each tab links you to a page where they give general information about strategic planning, corporate research, site engineering, link building etc. In most cases they then provide a link to their Papers and Articles section for a more detailed look at the topic. All the sections are regularly updated and provide interesting tips and ideas on how to improve your site.
One interesting article posted just a few weeks ago by White Hat Media pointed towards a growing trend in the area of social media. This will come as no surprise to many. Blogs and the like were once mainly used by the general public - they were an outlet for musing, exchanging ideas and making connections. Now however, the rise of the corporate blog for networking and promotion has broadened the blogging population. And the same is happening in social media outlets like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.
In the White Hat Media article posted on November 28 2007 it says: “It is estimated that by 2010, 70% of internet content will be user-generated, and big brands are keen to jump on the Web 2.0, social media bandwagon. Social Media Optimization (SMO) will be the future of SEO, where rankings are based less upon the manipulation of code and more about old fashioned PR,” like word-of-mouth.
Romagnan says this is something White Hat Media have been concentrating on in the last three months, with great results. They are now enticing their clients to make the best of social media outlets and create their own MySpace pages or Bebo sites to promote their products within these ready-made online communities.
“I find it a great tool to use because you can get inbound links from posts to blogs and other sites like Facebook, or any of those social media links. It should be used more by SEO companies“, declares Romagnan.
“Everything including video and podcasting can be very useful for companies to promote themselves through. I don’t think too many people are doing this right now, but I think we will start to see more companies on Facebook and MySpace, using these sites as a tool to market themselves online“, he added.
White Hat Media suggests using other forms of SMO to generate publicity - these include adding RSS feeds, a ‘Digg This’ button and incorporating third party community functionalities such as Flickr photo slides and galleries, or YouTube videos.
White Hat Media’s Top SEO tips
Identify Correct Keywords. Your site should include keywords that your prospective clients key into the major search engines.
Optimize Your Page Titles
One of the most vital SEO techniques is to position your keywords within the Title description for each page. This will assist your search engine rankings and help users to identify the content of the page when they bookmark it.
Build Internal Links
An often mistaken assumption is that every visitor will start at your homepage. Most will, but it's important to check that each page on your site is linked to the others.
Develop Inbound Links
You should seek inbound links from other relevant websites. Linking from text placed in the body of other websites is very valuable, particularly if it includes your keywords. Be very selective when choosing link partners.
Some SEO professionals suggest that using tags is the best way to optimize your web page by letting the search engine spiders know which are the most important words.
To read the full top 10 tips visit White Hat Media - Papers and Articles
For more on SEO have a look at our SEO strategy page.
About Rachelle Money
Rachelle is a contributor to The Web Content Recipe book
Nowadays, Rachelle is Communications Manager at Scottish Renewables.
She graduated from the Scottish School of Journalism in 2005 where she was awarded an internship with two national publications - The Sunday Herald newspaper and The Big Issue magazine.