6 “White Hat” SEO Strategies that Are Hurting Your Online Business
There are two general categories of search engine optimization: black hat and white hat. These are exactly what they sound like. Black hat is “bad” or manipulative SEO, and white hat is “good,” trustworthy SEO. There are also a million methods considered as grey hat, which is not necessarily the most non-manipulative, yet they could still induce massive benefits.
Most SEO strategies that fit into “black hat” will hurt your online business. If not now, then in the future.
But there are also a few white hat techniques that have unforeseen consequences if not implemented correctly. These are the hidden pitfalls since white hat techniques often come along with the best intentions that are good for the internet and for the user.
Here are 6 white hat trap doors:
1. Link Building
Link building is an SEO concept that can be implemented in a good or bad way.
It is a great way to point yourself as an authority in the field, and it’s a fantastic way to get your hours, locations, and services online. Link building is good for users, as it makes sense and is helpful to the people reading or searching for you.
However, bad links also exist and they can be very easy to build. When Google was still in its young stage, people would link build with exact match anchor text without their users in mind. We’ve all seen links that make no sense. This might have worked in 2007 — but not anymore. Things like “the best credit card” stuck into the middle of a grammatically incorrect sentence no longer fly. Link building in 2018 is all about pointing to useful, logical resources.
2. Going HTTPS Gone Wrong
HTTPS gives your site a small SEO boost. It’s Google’s way of rewarding secure sites, helping to build a better internet.
It’s great to secure your website by going HTTPS!
But if you don’t do it correctly, you could end up negating the SEO benefits of going secure. There are a variety of ways you could negate these SEO benefits, such as forgetting to update your Search Console and sitemap to a migration gone wrong.
Examples of bad practices:
- Send signals that you are still HTTP and cut your time with Google in half
- Forget to redirect HTTP to HTTPS
- Only partially migrate your site to HTTPS
- Internally link to old “HTTP” pages
You’re wasting your time with Googlebot with these common errors, and it could have a big negative impact on your organic traffic.
3. Servicing Foreign Languages
Having foreign language versions of your site is a great way to serve your users better.
It can help you rank for keywords that your foreign language users might be searching for. An example is if you sell cars and services to a large Spanish-speaking community. Having a few pages in Spanish can help users look for “coche” (the Spanish word for car). It would also help users find what they are looking for, but it’s incredibly easy to mess up, which will negatively affect your organic traffic.
Servicing foreign languages requires translations and tags. Hreflang tags are a great way to point out to Googlebot that your foreign language pages are the same as your standard language page, just in a different language.
If you don’t have a real translation, Google can view the auto-translate as bad content (even if you’re using Google translate to create your translation). If you don’t point to foreign language pages as alternative language versions of your original pages, Google may view them as duplications and start diminishing your presence (since you contain low-value URLs).
4. Updates on Updates: Redirect Chains
It’s great to update your site from time to time. And there are a thousand SEO benefits that you may find:
EX: Perhaps you used to create new pages with URLs that were unique due to their URL parameters. That is not good, so you updated to real URLs.
EX: Then, you learned that some of your URLs had a slash at the end and some of them don’t, so you redirected all of the URLs to have slashes.
EX: Then you learned that having an uppercase and a lowercase version of your URLs makes a duplication, so you redirect all your uppercase URLs to lowercase.
301 redirects to
There are a thousand other ways you could’ve changed your site over the years, but unless you also updated your internal links and tried to follow up on outside links that point to the original post, you have a redirect chain — which is stealing the SEO value your site deserves.
So when someone (like Googlebot) goes through a link to mysite.com/blog?ThisIsMyPost1 they would go through 3 redirects before being at the final page. Those redirects steal a small amount of external link equity and waste Google’s time.
Solving those redirect chains, especially if they occur en-masse, will give you a big SEO boost.
Following links is a great way to point to authority. Whether it is to yourself with followed internal links or to your sources, followed links are a fantastic way to signal that you trust the sources you link to.
No-followed links are how you can link without pointing authority.
Many people can go too far no-following links. No-following every link means sending no authority. A lot of people think this means that they should just no-follow every link that goes out. But a followed external link can show off how authoritative your article is and that you have great sources. As SEO expert Neil Patel said:
In the same way, when you link out to Google-friendly sites, especially to pages that are relevant to the high-quality content that you’re writing, Google will crawl your site and follow the links to the trusted site.
Google may not have explicitly stated that this improves your rankings, but through years of writing content and doing SEO, I’ve found it to be true.
Follow the links that you believe in.
6. Onsite Content
Onsite content is wonderful! It’s a great way to say all the things about your company and products that you may not be able to say on a product page. For example, if you sell hats, you could write about what hat to buy, why hats are shaped in different ways, and the uses of different fabrics. There is an endless amount of things to write about. You can always aim your articles around prime search terms and do years of research on how to optimize content. But you want to do content.
The days of writing bad content are over. Sentences with bad grammar, stuffed keywords, and useless links are viewed negatively by Google.
When you create something for your site, make sure it’s useful for your users.
White hat SEO consists of the following good, non-manipulative SEO practices.
But it’s very easy to overdo a “good” technique and end up with bad consequences.
Doing it wrong is way too easy.
One of the things you need to understand—and successful agencies know—is the importance of following the right methodology that will help build your business, sell better, and deliver value to clients. This is what white label SEO services are for. Read more on why White Label SEO is Your Route to Agency Success.