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White Hat SEO Basics

Let's say that you already have a website because if you didn't, I'd have to write a series of blog posts explaining how to do it or refer you to one of several tutorial sites that can help you build one from scratch. At some point you'll be pitched by an SEO vendor to improve your website's rankings with various search engines. WhiteHatSEO.org offers some guidance for "ethical" SEO practices in its member codex. Here are a few of their tips.
  • Don't use shadow domains.
  • Don't use doorway pages.
  • Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase clients site's ranking or page rank.
  • Don't use hidden text or hidden links.
  • Don't employ cloaking or sneaky redirects, which is used to deceive users or present different content to search engines than it display to users.
  • Don't send automated queries to search engines.
  • Don't load pages with irrelevant words and phrases.
  • Don't create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
This all good, but if you're a sole proprietor or a company looking at SEO for the first time, how would you know who was legit and who wasn't? And, given how diverse SEO methods are these days, which ones are the right ones to use? Is this a task that can be handled in-house or does it need to be outsourced?

Key SEO goals are intended to make sure that:

* Pages are indexed and a good site map exists
* Pages are well-structured with headers and subheaders, content-appropriate meta tags, etc.
* Descriptive page titles are used
* Keyword-rich inbound links are used

It looks a lot like a new spin on basic webmaster duties.

The easier you make it for a user who knows almost nothing about your business to find your website in the myriad of millions of sites, the better. Unlike the big yellow book from the telecom company that shows up every year to unreceptive household doorsteps, SEO allows you, the web domain owner, to be in control of advertising, product or service positioning relative to next best complements, and manage who visits and how. In that respect, SEO is more cost-effective than print advertisements. Opting for paid SEO is entirely up to your company's customer acquisition strategy.

At some point I'll follow-up with a post about black hat SEO and why ethics has nothing to do with whatever technique is used but how it is used that can get sites delisted from search engine indexes.

Remember: The only good SPAM is when its fried up with rice.

Related links:
White Hat SEO tips for bloggers
Questions to Ask a Paid Search Vendor
Questions to Ask SEO Consultants

Glossary:
White Hat
Shadow domains
Doorway pages
Link Farms

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