What is Off-White SEO?

What is Off-White SEO?

SEOs have found success in following best practices, especially advice that Google itself has spoken on during Webmaster hours, at conferences, or in blog posts. But the history of the industry has revolved around constantly trying new things to see what works and what doesn’t. Many of these strategies end up becoming a no-go for SEO, but some operate in more of a grey area until Google search engines decide they properly following guidelines.

Below are some of the current strategies in SEO that will not get you penalized but could be against Google’s policies as time progresses. While they aren’t frowned upon by the industry as a whole now, it’s important to take these strategies with a grain of salt and make sure you aren’t reliant on nefarious tactics to get more visibility in search results.

These tactics are on your website, which means you have more control over how they are used and with what frequency.

For e-commerce or service-based companies, they may find it useful to have separate pages of products based on certain attributes, such as color or size. For instance, on Amazon, you can change product color, model, and size directly from one product page:

When you click on the different models, the URL of the product page doesn’t change. However, when product pages are separated based on color, size, or other metrics, it creates a more specific page for the user and as of now, isn’t currently explicitly frowned upon by Google. Separating product pages may be a good strategy for your website if the specifications are extremely important to your customers and it makes their searches easier.

If you’re looking to get more visibility to your internal content pages, consider linking to related pages more regularly. As of now, internal linking three to five times with exact match anchor text isn’t a definite no-no. This type of linking can actually be useful to your users, as long as you are linking pages that make sense to one another.

For instance, if you had a horoscope website, it would make sense to link to the next horoscope at the end of each page, or to link to other informational pages on that specific horoscope.

SEO linking tactics that Google has clearly stated is against policy are massive link exchanges, buying or selling links, using automated linking programs, and other link schemes. Be sure to follow Google’s guidelines on this so your website doesn’t experience a penalty or lower visibility, once search engines catch on to what you’re doing.

These are SEO tactics that aren’t on your website, instead use other mediums like external websites or digital platforms like email in order to increase your search engine positioning.  While Google has talked somewhat about all three of these, they haven’t specifically stated that it’s wrong to use these strategies. You must use caution and ensure that what you are doing is useful to searchers and your target audience.

Guest blogging has been a hot topic, with some experts proclaiming it has been overused and spoiled, and others showcasing their results. However, guest blogging in 2018 should be something completely different than what it was in 2014. When it was on the rise five years ago, it was easy to put links into your guest blog posts and have them published on other websites.

Now, both publishers and search engines are cracking down on creating this type of content solely for links, which means it’s time to change your tactics. Guest blogging can still be a viable source of website traffic and leads, but all created content must be done with the goal to provide useful information that is of value.

Creating content simply because you get a bio link usually means the quality isn’t there, which won’t lead to much traffic anyway. So focus on writing high quality content for any external publishers that you have a guest blogging relationship with. Use this chance to prove your thought leadership and to get more brand awareness for your company.

Just like guest blogging, online public relations for your website shouldn’t be done for SEO or links, but rather to increase brand awareness and to get the word out about your company. Of course, public relations is its own sector entirely, with strategies about cross-promotion, press releases, journalist outreach, and more. But as long as your company is actually doing something newsworthy (don’t create press releases just because you can), getting links from your PR efforts can be a great benefit.

Online PR isn’t regarded as a “no-no” from Google, but stick to the safe side and make sure you are generating buzz around products or news that actually can capture audience interest, instead of attempting to invent innovation where there hasn’t been anything.

While the FTC does have guidelines in place for proper disclosure for bloggers and online influencers when they work with brands (which everyone should absolutely follow), Google hasn’t currently placed many guidelines or restrictions on working with influencers.

These types of campaigns run the gamut, from a long-term partnership that includes several blog posts and social media posts, to a single review post and giveaway. How you work with influencers usually depends on company goals and budget, but they can be a great gateway to a larger portion of your target audience that you are trying to reach. Because influencers usually have a higher trust value than ads or other types of push marketing, you may end up getting more qualified leads, often in less time.

In order to run a “clean” influencer outreach campaign, make sure everything is transparent with your relationship in any published content and make sure all content follows Google’s published guidelines. This includes no hidden links or text, low quality pages that don’t have unique content, or automatically generated content that wasn’t written manually.

SEO and digital marketing is an ever-evolving field, and in order to be successful, consider trying new things to reach your target audience. Stay vigilant of any new guidelines by Google and other search engines and strive to not rely on any one tactic for your SEO results. Just because something works now, doesn’t mean it will forever, so stick to the basics that work and spend a little time trying out new things.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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