So-called “white hat” methods of SEO involve following the search engines’ guidelines as to what is and what isn’t acceptable. Their advice generally is to create content for the user, not the search engines; to make that content easily accessible to their spiders; and to not try to game their system. Often webmasters make critical mistakes when designing or setting up their web sites, inadvertently “poisoning” them so that they will not rank well. White hat SEO attempts to discover and correct mistakes, such as machine-unreadable menus, broken links, temporary redirects, or a generally poor navigation structure that places pages too many clicks from the home page.
Because search engines are text-centric, many of the same methods that are useful for web accessibility are also advantageous for SEO. Methods are available for optimizing graphical content, including ALT attributes, and adding a text caption. Even Flash animations can be optimized by using an OBJECT element that contains equivalent HTML content .
Some methods considered proper by the search engines:
- Using a short and relevant title to name each page.
- Editing web pages to replace vague wording with specific terminology that is relevant to the subject of the page.
- Increasing the amount of original content on a site.
- Using a reasonably-sized, accurate description meta tag without excessive use of keywords, exclamation marks or off topic terms.
- Developing links via natural methods: Google doesn’t elaborate on this somewhat vague guideline. Dropping an email to a fellow webmaster telling him about a great article you’ve just posted, and requesting a link, is most likely acceptable.
- Participating in a web ring with other web sites as long as the other websites are independent, share the same topic, and are of comparable quality.
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