What is Google’s Definition of White Hat SEO?

What is the Definition of White Hat SEO in 2013?

Although a lot of digital media agencies call their SEO methods “white hat”, I think there’s still an argument in the industry over what exactly white hat means.

Some people think white hat is just where you don’t buy links, others think that guest posting is completely white hat.  Directory submissions and social bookmarking sites don’t help to clarify the subject.  The best way to define what is white hat SEO is to look at Google’s Link Schemes guidelines.

According to Google: “Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site, or outgoing links from your site. “

Straight away, you can see that any links that are manually built to manipulate your site’s rankings are black hat.  Logically this would include guest posts, directory submissions, distributed infographics and widgets.  Basically anything where you have some degree of control over the links to your site.

It gets more complicated though because there are many situations where a writer may legitimately build links to his sites as a means of increasing branding and referral traffic.  This includes relevant directory submissions and high value guest posts.  Matt Cutts has already said himself that they don’t consider buying links at high quality directories such as BOTW.org or Yahoo Directory the same as paid links.

So How Do We Know What is and isn’t Black Hat SEO?

Honestly, I don’t think you’ll ever find a consensus to this answer.  I see a lot of people arguing that a natural link where you had no influence on the anchor text and placement of the link to your website.  This is the true definition of an editorial link.

On the other hand, guest posts and directory submissions are entirely natural.  For example, I’ve previously written for the Guardian.co.uk on behalf of my own company ARG Media.  You can’t say that links such as these should be so considered “black hat” and deserve be penalised   There are plenty of other cases where magazines and websites will link to the author’s website in order to give proper credit to the source.

How Should We Define White Hat SEO?

Personally, I think in order to understand how Google and Matt Cutts categorizes web spam, you first need to understand their main goals and ethos.  Above everything, their aim is to rank the best sites for users.

As such, I think if you earn links in a non-spammy, editorially manner which benefits users, it won’t be penalized.  For example, if you write high quality content for a relevant, high quality blog that receives organic Facebook likes and shares then I think that’s fine.  In addition, you also have to ask what the intention of the link is?  If a link is placed mainly to create additional traffic and branding as opposed to manipulating your site’s rankings then it should technically be classed as white hat.  The SEO benefits from the link are just an additional advantage.

Of course, you can “over step” the mark by relying too heavily on guest posts, PR or any other tactic, however if you balance a range of link-earning strategies from different sources then I think everything should be OK.

What Services Does Searchable.co.uk Provide?

We actually provide a range of strategies to build legitimate, high quality and relevant backlinks to your website.  This includes PR (public relationships), reporter and blogger outreach, guest posting on high quality and relevant blogs, link-bait, infographics and submitting to your website to government and niche directories.

We also try to think of out of the box ways to earn additional backlinks, should as sponsoring local events, launching free eBooks or running competitions on your website.

Adam Grunwerg

Mr grunwerg has written 22 post in this blog.

Adam Grunwerg is the founder of Searchable.co.uk and has numerous years of experience in SEO, inbound marketing developing brands online. He has also previously written for the Guardian, SearchEngineJournal and AffiliateFYI.com.

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  • http://www.arbschool.co.uk/ micheal mcallum

    Thanks adam for giving the brief details about white hat ways and sharing the views of Matt Cutts perfect guidelines

  • http://www.webdesignreview.co.uk haris awais

    obviously links must be earned instead of buying or making it by yourself,this is the guideline of google which seems like an impossible thing in these days for a new site to earn so much links massively to gain ranking, if links are build manually without purchasing then no one could recognize it whether they are build by owners itself or someone else,but only if links are made with unique text without keywords and non-promotional tone.this is a white hat seo practice for a website

    which is employed by several sites

  • Mark

    Its so difficult to do seo, I don’t understand it at all sometimes. Ive hired so many people to help get my cleaning company to page 1 in London but cant seem to manage it. Anybody got any good tips or know a good company? Ive just hired these guys http://www.1-to-1.org.uk but don’t know if they will do any good. Everybody seems to have good reviews and feedback but they I always get let down. Wish I could get my head around seo so I could do my own :(