EPISODE 017: BLACK HAT SEO WITH NICOLE HAMPTON
Blog Title: Dough-Eyed
About Nicole: I have been a food blogger for about 10 years at Dough-Eyed, a food blog for people who want to bake for their family and friends in high-altitude areas.
My day job is in SEO, and I've worked on a wide variety of websites in many industries over the years. I've been able to take what I know from work into my blog, and about 2/3 of the traffic to Dough-Eyed is from organic search results.
Notes from Episode #017: The good and the bad of SEO in blogging.
-Fun fact: Nicole is super picky! It’s not often you find a food blogger that doesn’t like fruits and vegetables
- Nicole talks about what "black hat SEO" is and how it started. While today there are definitely scammers doing black hat work, a lot of what we consider black hat today is actually just what used to work- old tactics that used to be okay.
-It’s important to stick with reliable sources in the field of SEO even if it means cross checking them yourself. Look for authority sites to get your information. There may be some good tips on other sites but they aren’t reliable or accurate all the time and could lead you astray.
-Black Hat SEO: a term that is used within marketing. It refers to SEO tactics that are aggressive and typically in violation of Google’s rules and guidelines for websites to be able to show up in their search results. It’s an attempt to trick the system.
-Gray Hat SEO - pushing the limits of what Google has advised but not directly violated the rules.
-Google is trying to show the best results possible and make it so the system can’t be cheated. They said you can’t stuff key words on your site just to get ranking and are giving us other definitions of what will help everyone succeed.
- How to spot black hat SEO services being sold to you and how to identify black hat SEO advice or tactics in your research. It’s important to stick to reliable resources, knowing the basics of what you should/shouldn't be doing on your website, etc.
Black hat developed out of tactics you used to use on websites to get better rankings. It might not have been shady then, it was figuring out how to work with search engines. But now, you can get penalized and its definitely not best practice.
Website over-optimization: over using the same key words and focusing on one topic without broadening the conversation to try and get better ranking.
You can’t cheat the Google algorithm for very long. They will figure out your tactics, and what you did to achieve a higher ranking will go away.
If someone reaches out to you with content that isn’t relevant to your readers, where the topic could almost or kinda be relevant topics but aren’t in the food blog industry specifically, then steer clear of this type of “help”. This is something that usually happens to newer bloggers who aren’t suspect of these offers. It seems like a good offer to have someone supply you with content.
Red flags to look for:
email addresses have 75 characters in them.
There’s no one to actually speak to. You can figure this out by suggesting “let’s talk on the phone” to see if a live call can happen.
They are not on the web - do a search to see if they’re legit.
See if you’re being sold something. Are they just trying to get a backlink for themselves?
MOZ is a well known source. They have great resources for the basics. To help you be aware of what is ok and what isn’t.
If you’re willing to go deep diving into different areas of your blog, then Food Blogger Pro is a good resource. It is subscription based.
Hub spot is a bigger SEO authority you can use.
All of these sources can all be cross-checked - if you see it on one of these, most of these sites will back up what the other is saying because it’s reliable information.
-Learn what are the most common SEO techniques being used poorly today in the food blogging world.
Black hat tactics will create a ton of content and target the same search term. (i.e. 10 FAQ’s that answer the same question; targeting the same SEO word) Take away: Evaluate the questions that people will have about your recipe and think about how you can fully answer the questions people will have. Maybe creating an additional post to answer questions or extending the post with more information to be more informative.
If you answer the questions people really have about your topic and recipe, they won’t bounce off your site as much or as quickly and that’s valuable to Google.
Schema markup: test it, make sure it’s working properly. Check your schema errors in Google console. Don’t be scared of red flags and walk away. Red flags don’t always mean it’s a penalization, it might mean something is missing and you’ve made that decision on your blog not to add that technical piece. You’ll find ways to improve your site if you do this. It can be overlooked a lot because it’s technical but its important.
Because everyone is so focused on content, SEO and technical aspects of your business often fall to the side but they are important. It’s hard to sit down and get it done. You won’t get immediate substantial improvement in rankings, but let’s be clear, it will hurt you in the long run. Your competitors are doing it. It’s tedious and a big project but find projects to start tackling. Pick something: meta titles, alt tags, meta descriptions, etc.Set aside time each week to just work on it little by little. Commit to an hour a week.
Set aside time each week to just work on SEO, little by little. Commit to an hour a week. Schedule it into your week.
“It becomes a lot less tedious and hard to sit down and do once you do see the results. When you feel like its working and you can attribute organic traffic to your website, its such a good feeling and it makes you feel like it's totally worth your time.” ~Nicole
-“You’re providing really great content. You have great recipes that people can really enjoy in their homes and it's totally worth it to make your content easier to find.” ~Nicole
-Create quality content! Create content around searcher intent, which is what Google Console can help you with. These tactics will always benefit you.
Backlinks are a good thing and adds a ton of value to your website. Ask for a link that’s “follow” instead of “no follow”. It’s a code that’s added to the link itself that allows the search engines to follow from site to site. You can see no-follow in the actual link if it’s no follow if you wanted to look for it.
Biggest reason that people have no follow links is that they are just sourcing links and aren’t “endorsing” the site. But it’s worth the ask!
-“Success is a series of small things”. Quote that Nicole shares that she appreciates.
Helpful references from the episode:
Recommended article from SEMrush with Casey Markee that talks about SEO: click HERE