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White Hat Methods

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 for the search engines; to make that content easily accessible to their spiders; and to not try to game the system. Often, webmasters make critical mistakes when designing or setting up their websites, inadvertently "poisoning" them so that they will not rank well. White hat SEOs attempt to discover and correct mistakes, such as machine-unreadable menus, broken links, temporary redirects, or a poor navigation structure.

Because search engines are text-centric, many of the same methods that are useful for web accessibility are also advantageous for SEO. A detailed case for this common ground, cited by the W3C with respect to Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case, is SEO A Positive Influence on Web Accessibility. Google has brought the relationship between SEO and accessibility even closer with the release of Google Accessible Web Search which prioritises accessible websites.

Methods are available for optimizing graphical content, including ALT attributes, and adding a text caption. Even Flash animations can be optimized by designing the page to include alternative content in case the visitor cannot read Flash.

Some methods considered proper by the search engines:
  • Using unique and relevant title to name each page.
  • Editing web pages to replace vague wording with specific terminology relevant to the subject of the page, and that the audiences that the site was developed for will expect to see on the pages, and will search with to find the page.
  • Increasing the amount of unique content on the site.
  • Writing quality content for the website visitors instead of the search engines.
  • Using a reasonably-sized, accurate description meta tag without excessive use of keywords, exclamation marks or off topic terms.
  • Ensuring that all pages are accessible via anchor tag hyperlinks, and not only via Java, Javascript or Macromedia Flash applications or meta refresh redirection; this can be done through the use of text-based links in site navigation and also via a page listing all the contents of the site (a site map).
  • Allowing search engine spiders to crawl pages without having to accept session IDs or cookies.
  • Developing "link bait" strategies. High quality websites that offer interesting content or novel features tend to accumulate large numbers of backlinks.
  • Participating in a web ring with other quality websites.
Writing useful, informational articles under a Creative Commons or other open source license, in exchange for attribution to the author by hyperlink.

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