What You’ll Gain From This Article:
- How To Break SEO Rules
- Definition of Best Practices and White Hat SEO
- Reasons to Break the Rules
- 7 Rules To Consider Breaking
Defining White Hat SEO & How To Break SEO Rules
White Hat SEO is a term for the good and fair practices that follow Google’s guidelines, search engine guidelines, and generally are considered “safe” by the SEO community to do on your site. Black hat SEO methods are the exact opposite and usually involve quick short cuts and questionable items that may get your site penalized. White Hat SEO takes time and effort to get to the top of Google. Gray Hat SEO are borderline techniques that are either not proven or are not considered “best practices”.
Best Practices Summary:
- Align with majority of SEOs
- Follow search engine guidelines
- Can Change Over Time
Break SEO Rules: Defining Best Practices
Best practices are more specific guidelines of white hat SEO techniques. There are hundreds of white hat techniques you can use on your website. For example, 55-60 characters for a meta title would be standard and considered a good length recommended by many SEOs. However, you can try different lengths that can be more effective, thus breaking the rules.
Reasons To Break SEO Rules & Ignore Best Practices
- Reach an ROI Measurement – Fixing all the little SEO technical issues without seeing an immediate investment – you can choose to simultaneously do other SEO techniques such as link building or ignore these based on how flexible and costly your SEO plan is.
- Time Constraints – May have only a certain amount of time or labor resources and need to bend the rules, Short term SEO goals. Sign-ups for a conference in a certain amount of time, etc.
- Varying SEO goals – If your goal is more likes on social media or have other goals than getting to the top of search engines. You could also have an industry specific goal like volunteers needed.
- Prioritizing other SEO goals – If your SEO team has a plan and you disagree, you can request to prioritize your website goals. These 2 things mostly line up but be sure to voice what you want.
7 Ways To Break SEO Rules & Guidelines
- Varying Meta Data Lengths – If you have a great title tag that is catching fire on social media then you don’t have to optimize it for Google’s guidelines. You don’t even have to include your keyword in the title tag or description if you have something that is even better for humans. Having the keyword toward the end if it works better for your article works too even though it breaks the rules.
- Reorganizing Navigation – Just because your competitors’ websites have a traditional navigation doesn’t mean you have to. Yes, most websites have a home, about, services/products, blog, and contact. Why not reorganize to show your strengths and what actually makes you money. Does your about page make more money than your service pages? If not, then feature your services up front and break SEO rules!
- Visuals & Text Length - Meeting text requirements with visual pages, products, portfolios, photography sites, or galleries can be tough. A traditional page that you want to rank online should have 300-600 words. In order to meet the requirement while still being a beautifully visual page, write longer captions that add up to 300 words. You can still include keywords and even headers, adding to the page.
- Social Media – Moz Pie Chart shows that social media accounts for about 5% of the reason of why you rank online. This means you should spend about 5% of your SEO marketing time on social media. Some companies find great success and a huge ROI on social media, in which case – Go for it!
- Add news snippets – If you only have time to blog once a month, add in a news section. You can easily update on your phone anytime you’re at an event, networking party, you’re at a landmark in the town, or some other industry item or random news snippet that you think your core audience would like.
- Pretty Permalinks with Keywords – Reorganizing your site structure and creating 301 redirects with the keyword in them is great according to SEOs. However, if it’s not broken, why fix it? Adding a massive amount of 301 redirects to your site can be good for the long run but may penalize you in the search rankings or risk losing link equity.
- Keywords vs. Experience – You have the keyword phrase mentioned an average of 10 times on your blog and your competitor has it an average of 4 times. They always rank on top of you. Why? Sometimes breaking SEO rules means the overall experience and better content is what is important. For example, your site has a ton of keyword mentions but has small and hard to read font, 1 picture, no videos, and blocks of long text stretching across the page.
You have a high bounce rate on most blogs and service pages plus low average page visits, a low CTR, and a low average time spent on page. All of these indicate to Google that you have a low quality page. Sometimes SEOs focus too much on inserting keywords instead of page quality and user experience.
Best Practices Change
One of the main reasons to keep your SEO plan even if you’re ranking at the top is that best practices do change. Google’s algorithm changes about twice per day, with major algorithm changes throughout the year. Make sure to keep up with major SEO changes and keep your website current. Even Google has penalized its own website for violating its own rules. Monitor your website stats and analytics in order to stay ahead of the curve. Don’t be afraid to go off book and break SEO rules.