The Simple and Smart SEO Show

What is Black Hat SEO? w/ Stephanie Long (Part 2)

November 02, 2022 Brittany Herzberg, Crystal Waddell, Stephanie Long Season 1 Episode 23
The Simple and Smart SEO Show
What is Black Hat SEO? w/ Stephanie Long (Part 2)
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Welcome to the Simple and Smart SEO Show!
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What's in our 23rd Episode with SEO expert & consultant Stephanie Long, part 2?

Our Takeaways:

1. Use Screaming Frog and Google's Page Speed Tool to optimize images and improve page speed.

  • Use Screaming Frog to optimize images for alt text and size.
  • Site structure should be easy to navigate and make sense logically.
  • Contact Stephanie for a free consultation and audit.

2. Optimize your Wordpress pages and Shopify pages.

  • WordPress users: update your URL slug to something relevant and optimized.
  • Shopify users: remember to check the box for automatic redirection when you make changes to a page.
  • For URL slugs, try to keep them 3-4 terms long and relevant to the page topic.

3. What is White Hat SEO? What is Black Hat SEO?

  • White hat SEO is optimizing your blog appropriately, putting in the targeted keyword on each page, two to three times max.
  •  Black hat SEO: keyword stuffing, buying links, shady stuff behind the scenes.
  • Competitive research falls under white hat seo. 

4. How to choose the best keywords for your site:

  • Make sure that the keywords you're targeting are actually being Searched by potential customers. 
  • Using UberSuggest and Answer the Public  can help ensure that you're using white hat SEO techniques.

5.  Find out the difference between a web developer's job and an SEO's job.

Final Note: If you Google your business name and don't come up on the

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This transcript has been machine-generated and has not been edited for errors.

I only do SEO. 

I like to work hand in hand with a web developer. 

So especially if you are a web developer that has marketing, you need to work hand in hand. 

Like, I don't personally think web developers themselves know SEO as well as they think they do, because I think you really need to specialize in one thing. 

Hello and welcome to the Simple and Smart SEO show Where we provide tips and advice to improve your website's search engine ranking.

I am Brittany Herberg, SEO copywriter for Holistic health and Wellness Pros who want to show up as the answer to a Googled question. 

And I'm Crystal Waddell, an e-commerce seller and content creator. I help business owners communicate the value of their products and services through content so you can make more sales and grow your business. 

We are business besties who love learning and sharing what we've learned.

So what are we waiting for? Let's jump in. 

Okay. So I have had a client recently who struggled with something, and the question is, what is the job of a web developer versus an seo?

Because her web developer for her Shopify store promised to do some SEO for her. 

Well, we were trying to fix what they did and when we were going into like the product URLs and the slugs and stuff there, it was set up for a jewelry store. 

And so I was just,  at first I was like, Oh my gosh, this is terrible. This is terrible. And I looked at the contract and it did say something about seo, but then I was listening to a different podcast because that's what I do all day.

And they said, your web developer is supposed to hand you a website that's done, and an SEO handles the SEO. 

So I just wondered, what's your thought on that? And maybe even the situation that I just explained, what do you think of what happened to my client? 

Well, first of all, I'd wanna get my money back or make them do it over. 

I'd want the money back for that specific service or make them redo it.

My personal opinion is, as I only do SEO, I like to come in hand in hand with a web developer. 

So especially if you are a web developer that has marketing, you need to work hand in hand. 

Like, I don't personally think web developers themselves know SEO as well as they think they do, because I think you really need to specialize in one thing. 

So, I think that SEO and web developers need to work hand in hand. 

For instance, when I've worked at other web companies, I come in right away with the web developer. 

So as they're building out the pages, I'm writing the content, I'm optimizing the pages so that it's ready to go.

It's all ready when it's to go live. 

And I realize not everyone can do that, but I think that you should do soft launches until you can get your page fully optimized. 

But personally, I mean, I think it's great that they hired you to come in and fix that, but I do think that they, you need to watch that. Like you need to like vet that.


Well here's something interesting. 

I was like, Oh my gosh, I can pretty much build an entire business around this because I went to the Shopify, like they were requiring her to leave a review, a five star review before they would release the next group of work,  so I went to their Shopify partner page and I could see like these duplicate reviews or reviews from the same people multiple times.

So then I'm like, Okay, well let me go check out their websites. Let me go check out their domain authority. Oh man,  we're talking zero to four domain authority. 

And I thought, you know what?

Now I can just follow up with all of these people and say, Hey, I know exactly what happened to you. I can help you fix it.

 But in the meantime,  it also feels,  I just feel bad for them. I feel bad that people can be so taken advantage of, you know? 

Well, and that's what you and I keep running into, and I'm sure you do too, Stephanie, because like I, the two examples you just talked about, I had a client that when we were on the initial call, he's like, Yeah, I've worked with a copywriter and they required in the contract that I would write a testimonial for them. That's not cool. That's not okay. That's not a standard contract procedure.

So like, no. 

And then I totally lost the other example…. 

Oh, working with the web developer, I'm doing that right now with a client. 

And in the past I've had some clients who are like, Oh, can you do the copywriting and design the page? 

And I did it once for a friend and I won't be doing it again because it's just not my forte.

It's not my thing. 

And they're not gonna end up with as good of a result if I'm gonna do the design.

Similarly, if this web designer would've been doing the SEO for this other client, it's just not what her strong suit is. 

It's not my strength to go and do what I'm developing. 

Yeah, I mean that's just my opinion too, versus my experience as well. Yeah. 

So, Okay, so let's say that you Google your business name and you don't come up in like the one, two, or three spots, or even on the first page, what do you do first? 

So I, that's me, but I do wanna caveat to this just because I know there's good things still on page four, five, and six. 

So if you don't find what you're looking for, I, I still recommend you to go to those other pages because there's still really good content, but obviously you wanna rank on number one. 

So I think for your website are, are you meaning like the, the homepage like, or just your website in general? Is that what your question is?

Like if I, if I search Crystal Waddell? 


Yeah. And I didn't pop up,  or, I didn't pop up in like the first result. Yeah. 

Or the second, what do I do? 

Yeah. So that's again, so yeah, that's me because my name is not known at all.

So what I recommend is really that authority getting out there going on podcasts.

 Make sure you're, are you optimizing your keywords for the right keywords? 

So I like to use Ubersuggest, let's say you're going after all high ranking. So you in Ubersuggests, make sure you're in the medium to low keywords.

So if you're going after high ranking keywords for your own website, you won't rank, right? 

Cuz you're going up against people that have high domain authorities or maybe they're being paying on top of it. 

So sometimes a lot of people do paid search with organic search. 

So make sure to look at your keywords and see, hey, are people actually even searching for these keywords?

So check that, go through every page, do an audit of your website. So that's actually what I did. 

I audited my whole entire blog. 

I have five pages now, so that's like, I don't know, 25 blogs. 

And I found that a lot of the keywords I was going after are not at all what people were actually searching for.

So I start looking at the medium and low, I personally go after the low low because I'm not that well-known. 

So, when I say low, because if you go after high, we'll use that GMC Buick as one you'll never, you'll never rank, right? 

And people are not gonna type in your name, right? 

Nobody's gonna type in Stephanie Marine marketing. So you wanna make sure that you are targeting those keywords that people are ranking for. 

So SEO specialists in Seattle, people are looking for that. So make sure that a lot of my keywords are surrounded around that. 

Like SEO specialists in Bellevue, that's another city, right? So start using cities around that.

People like to help local, while I do national clients, people like to help local companies as well. 

So really look at that. 

Yeah. And I think that's important. Even if you're not a brick and mortar place. 

Like I have a massage therapy practice and I have this virtual copywriting business. It doesn't matter. 

Like me, being associated with Raleigh, North Carolina is helpful for me because people are gonna be searching for that and there's a lot of people there. 


I mean, and Seattle is competitive.

So I go after smaller towns too in my area, but, so make sure you don't just use those broad keywords like SEO expert in seo.

I don't know, I just made that up, right? 

But don't go after sometimes those more niche keywords do something like I do that, right? 

I look for web developers in my area cuz I love to support and I personally love to support women owned businesses. 

So I make sure I have “woman owned business” optimized as well. 

I really like that. I need to do that with my website.

Yes. So I put that in my title. 

I put that on my social media because I, nothing wrong with men's businesses, but I really do like to help women out and get them business. 

Well then again, it's not, it's not a bad thing, it's just like we're looking for the people who are looking for us.

We want to put out the flag so that enough people are like, Oh yeah, this matches who I'm looking for and the help that I need and boom, it's done. 


Yeah. Okay. 

So when you were talking earlier about Ubersuggest, it's funny…  

I think that in almost every single podcast interview we've done so far, we've talked about Ubersuggest. Yeah.

Like either we're using it or  a guest is using it, They need an affiliate program! Yeah. 

When you use a tool like Ubersuggest can you be confident that they are recommending white hat SEO techniques versus anything that's gonna impact your site negatively? 

Yeah, so I'm a hundred percent on board with them. 

Neil Patel, he's the one that, he owns it or maybe he bought it, I'm not sure, but I follow him on LinkedIn and social media, I think he's spot on. 

He also bought Answer the Public. 


The only way you can get really, really good answers is to put in one to two keywords there.

It can't really handle more than that, and doesn't know how to answer the question. 

So I actually like to use it and you can do two free searches a day, otherwise you have to pay. 

So I do two free searches a day. So I actually like to do that everyday. 

I do, even if I don't need to, I like to stack up my questions.

So I do answer the public in conjunction with Ubersuggest, and I have not found it failed yet. 

It's very spot on. But I also use those Google snippets. 

So the tools I use, so I use Google snippets where people are asking questions, Ubersuggest with Answer the Public, I, I like to use those hand in hand.

I do Moz. I do the paid version of Moss and then I do Screaming Frog for images. 

Like, make sure images are compressed appropriately and not causing your page to load too slow. 

So, I use a free version of that, but the ones I pay for are MOZ and Ubersuggest. 


I like talking about SEO tools. 

Okay, I'm gonna do this kind of backwards because we just like got so into this conversation and I love it.

But I want to ask you, we've been talking about white hat versus Black Hat seo, but I don't think we really took a minute to kind of explain what that is. 


 So would you kindly explain how that is? Yeah, so black hat, I look at it more, it's not seen by Google, by the world. 

So like I mentioned the keyword stuffing on the backend, that's really bad. 

Or link farming. 

So buying a bunch of links and just putting them on your website that aren't, they're nothing. 

Let's say I just bought a link to, I don't know, a calculator website.

 So it's just buying links to things that aren't even related to you. 

So it, that's more black hat seo, doing things kind of under the cuff, right?

If you have to question what you're doing, whether it's legal or good, then it's probably not. 

And then white hat SEO is,  like optimizing your blog appropriately, putting in the targeted keyword on each page, two to three times do you use WordPress or whatever.

Like Shopify you mentioned they all have backend, either plugins that you buy or plugins that are already there. 

They give you what you need to optimize the title, slug, meta description, all of that. 

So if you just follow that, keep up on industry news and tips, that's, yeah. 

Oh yeah, sorry. 

Okay, so I'm over here raising my hand and if I ever do that, you could go ahead and finish. 

I just didn't wanna interrupt you because it made me think of something because what if you have a lot of low quality backlinks, but it wasn't because you bought a bunch of low quality backlinks?

It's because a bunch of low quality sites decided to link to you. I mean, is it worth it to go in and like disavow or what should someone do? 


I would, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

So actually I just was reading about that you should disavow or you should reach out to them.

I mean, I have no shame. 

I'll reach out to people no matter what, reach out to them and ask them to remove you like so I do either of those.

I mean if somebody's just linking to you to link to you and they're a bad website, you don't want that at all? 

No. You don't want that kind of attention? 

No, not at all. Okay. 

So white hat SEO is more kind of like, it's Aboveboard, right? Right. Like doing things on the up and up in black, like let's say see it more so than not see it in black hat seo, right? 

It's doing things more behind the scenes doing things that people, like we just mentioned, like paying for links. 

You should never, ever in your life pay for links, don't ever pay for links. 

So those are the two things I would say like keyword stuffing, backend and then don't pay for links at all. 

Yeah, Black hat SEO has just made me think of the dark web, like don't do things. 


So in general, how do you define just seo, like the broader concept, What does it mean to you? What do you think of it? 

Yeah, I just think of it's getting you or your clients to rank in the SERPs, which is the search engine results page. 

So when somebody googles you, it's getting them to rank on the first page or hopefully in the top three because that's usually above the fold. 

And unfortunately a lot of people don't necessarily scroll below the fold. 

So that’s just when you search being on the first page or above the fold and organic, right?

So you'll know if it's ad it'll say add that is not organic at all. I know it sounds intuitive but not necessarily to everyone. 

So it's the organic that you see on the list. So that's the SEO version. 

So I have a question about competitor research: is competitor research black hat or white hat?

Like can you find out what they're doing and how do you see their keywords? 

And is that okay? 

I mean yeah, we, everyone does it. 

It’s how I've always done it, it's probably kind of janky to do, but I do the right click and look in the HTML code and then I just search for title meta description and see what they got going on.

But then Ubersuggest also does show you like what they're writing, as well trending for on in articles. 

So I like to tell my clients, hey you should riff off of this and write something because you know you gotta outrank your competitors. 

But I do it honestly. I do it that way and I look at what their title is and meta description and alt text, which is image text. 

Yes, Yes. So yeah, of course everyone, right? Yes. 

So competitive research falls under white hat seo. That's cool. 

Yes, for sure. 

I mean, yeah, That was never a question of mine then. 

Yeah, for anyone listening though the like going and searching for like other blogs or articles that your competitors quote unquote are writing, it's not copying it. 

It's like you read something and I always like to encourage my clients or myself to think of, okay, this is their take on it. 

Do I have a different take on it?

 Do I agree with some things? 

Can I just use the structure of how they're explaining things? 

So look at it more as inspiration versus like I'm just gonna do the exact same thing.

Yeah, for sure. 

And then I also like, like the client I'm thinking of, they're a publishing client and their competitor does a lot of q and a with publishing magazines. 

So I always say, Hey, can we get the CEO to get on here, too? So see what your competitors are doing. 

Are they speaking on podcasts? Are they getting interviews in online publications?

Maybe magazines like that come to people's mail, I don't know anymore. 

But see what they're doing. Like hop on that. That is not bad. 

How do you think people get to the top? They look at what the best are doing. 


So, and I think there's even a place in Ubersuggest where it tells you it's like, hey look these websites are linking to your competitor but they're not linking to you. 

You know? 

So it's  kind of like a guiding hand to say, Hey look, if you wanna rank higher and you wanna do better, you might wanna think about reaching out to these same people because your competitors are. 

So, yeah. Yeah, a hundred percent.

Okay. So my next question I guess would be, what kind of gaps do you see most often in your audits? 

Like when you do audits for people? Because Steph has a free audit if you mention this podcast episode. 

So if you wanna reach out to her to do that, definitely  use the links in the show notes. 

But I was just curious,, when you're doing these audits, what kind of gaps do you see the most? 

I notice a lot of people forget to optimize for the slug. 


And so the slug is,  after your website like Stephanie remarketing slash slash that slug right after that, that needs to be whatever keyword you're wanting to rank for that page. 

And a lot of people miss that because they think,I think it autogenerates something, right? 

And so they miss that and just let it auto generate. So make sure you always optimize for your slug. 

That's one of the biggest optimization challenges that I see a lot of people have. 

Again, we've talked about people who are graphic designers who have videos. 

They have these massively big files that are causing the page to slow down.

So I use Screaming Frog to let them know you gotta compress these images. 

And so what's a great tool also is Google's page speed tool and you can see what is actually also slowing your page down. So I really recommend that. 

So if your slug is not optimized, you definitely should optimize it. Do not do a redirect.

Go in and fix that and you will see, so I'm thinking of WordPress specifically. 

If you fix the url, it'll show you your [inaudible] you wanna change it from this to this. 

So it will give you a warning sign and then always, change it to that.

And so it'll automatically redirect to that page. You don't need to fix anything or do anything.

It goes right to that. 

So I mean it really comes down to just people not optimizing their pages and they have got way too many videos and beautiful images and I love it, but  it's really quality over quantity. 

And then that's where I like to come in and look at their analytics and say, well people aren't clicking on these, so you need to look at this. 

So the big gaps are those and then the slug, because people have the same slug. 

So like slash forward slash contact, well you should say slash contact SEO specialist. 

So it should be something,  obviously related to the page but optimize that because it's a really big part of SEO as well. 

And you're saying that- 


And you're saying that you can go in and update the URL and it'll just automatically, automatically ….  It's automatically changed. 

Okay. Cuz I've had a problem on my site Squarespace, where I updated like the services page and it created a broken link. 

So I know that with the audit. 


I don't know why it didn't just automatically update and it was before I really knew what I was doing with SEO. 


So now I personally, what I've found since that happened to me, I don't want that to happen to a client of mine. I wish I had seen like no problems cuz that would've been a magical, wonderful world. 

But what I've suggested they do, like this happened with the sales page. I suggested,  have you linked the sales page in a, in a lot of places, yes. Okay, let's keep that one, duplicate the page once we update the copy and then optimize that URL and we can put that new one in different places. 

Like on Instagram if you have it in a links page or if you have it in an email or whatever the case may be.

So do you think maybe that only happens with certain website hosts? 

I use Squarespace. What I can speak to is I did it for my- I had a shirt business and I actually, it's not good for e-commerce. 

So sorry if anyone's using it for e-commerce, but I did my shirt business there and it was terrible and I moved it to Shopify.

I didn't, I don't remember seeing that personally. 

I can't say off the top of my head, I don't wanna speak that I saw it and I didn't. 

But doing Shopify or WordPress, I've never seen it. It's automatically redirected. 

I mean this isn't always the use case, but I haven't seen any problem with It. I'm happy to hear that.

Yeah, I think Squarespace is a really hard website personally and to optimize, it's pretty hard to optimize for. 

Got it. 

I have one more question and I know Crystal has more questions after me. 

How many terms do you think, cause I personally have like a number that I like using for the URL slug. Like I like to keep it between like this and this many terms.

Do you, do you have a preference? 

Do you have a favorite number to stick with?

 I like to keep it whatever the keyword is. So even if the keyword is like 20 characters, it'll be 20 characters. 

Well, I'm even talking about how many terms I try To keep.

Oh sorry, I, I like to keep it about three to four.

I try to keep it three to four. Yeah, that's mine. 

And I didn't realize, okay, I'm sorry I haven't worked on Shopify site in a while. 

Looks like you have to click a box to redirect. S

o sorry I misspoke on that one. But thank You. 

We're all, we're all always - 

No it's ok. 

Yeah, I learned that the hard way, because that's why I was asking that, that question about the redirect for a blog page that was doing really well because it's like, I had this blog that I had written a long time ago that happens to do amazingly well but it wasn't fully optimized and so then I, went ahead and optimized it, created a redirect but it's just  kind of funny that it was doing well without even op being optimized. 

You know what I mean? 


So yeah, just wondered what I also-

Yeah, okay. 

That's fair enough. 

I also, sometimes for instance, one of my clients has a holiday post that's doing really well. 

Again cuz they're a publishing company and they post to different holiday things.

Anyways I told them to keep that one right cause it's already doing well. 

Don't touch it and just redo it for 2022. 

So don't necessarily touch that because it is already ranking. 

Yeah, I love that. Riff off of that. 

Don't, duplicate the content. Don't but redo it. Yeah right. 

Just update that page, that blog post. Yeah.

Do you have, you mentioned, optimizing images because of page speed and everything. 

Yeah. You've had so many questions. It's my turn - we're so selfish with these, with these interviews. 

Do you have any quick tips to optimize images?

Cause that's one thing that I know I wanna go back and update on my own website and I would love to learn some quick tips.

I mean I just, whatever the keyword is that you're optimizing that page for, I just put in the alt text that that's so it's really like easy, quick, quick, quick. 

Just whatever the keyword is, just add it into the alt text. 

Anything about image sizes? 

That's why you use Screaming Frog.

It tells me. 

So you use Screaming Frog, it tells you exactly what you need to compress it to or put it at. 

So that's why I use Screaming Frog so I don't have to think about the sizes again, it's free so use it. 

Yeah, I haven't noticed any of them cutting me off and I use it all the time. 

So I don't know if there's a certain amount of uses.

We should have you come back and do an episode specifically on Screaming Frog. 

Okay, we should, because I've thought about that. 

I was like we really need episodes on every single tool.

 Like how to use it and how to like work through it because  there's just so much there. 

We talked, yeah, you talk about it for a minute but it's like, but there's, there's so many ways that you can use this and it can help your business.

It used to be SEO spider by the way, if anyone used to use it. 

Interesting. So it got rebranded to Screaming Frog. 

Fyi. They Like the reference. I like frog, it's better than spider. Yeah. 

Spiders scare me and so I'd rather use a frog.

Okay, so you, you talked a little bit about this again and, and something I heard you say before about how important site structure is. 

Yeah. And so you said you started with three pages.

How do you lay out a site structure that flows, that makes sense and you know that is easily optimized and then you can easily scale. Like how do you do that? 

Well I would love to come on and talk about this cuz I actually do a whole talk just on this. 

But my short version is to make sure it makes sense. 

So under contact, don't put t-shirts, I'll use that example under contact. 

Don't put t-shirts, that doesn't make sense. Make sure it flows. 

Contact us, about us, company. Right under services, add your services, 

Don't, don't put blogs under services, that doesn't make sense. 

Make sure it's laid out like it would make sense, right? 

So that's an, that's a very simplified form of the site structure.

But make sure it makes sense and put like your top navigation needs to be like, I'll mention again whatever you really want people to go to. 

So don't bury anything. 

So blog, I want people to see my blog and podcast. I don't bury that. 

That is on my navigation tab. So just think about that too. 

Awesome stuff. Well, oh my gosh. Okay.

 So we are definitely gonna have to have you back if you would like to join us because absolutely Brittany and I have to go box,  because we're like taking each other's question time away from each other. 

So to go have a virtual boxing match. 

Just kidding. But we are so glad that you came today.

And then next time we could dive more into the site structure, maybe a little bit of Screaming Frog,  whatever. 

Yes, please. But can you share,  kind of what you have to offer for people listening to the podcast and how you might be able to help them? 

Yeah, so if you just mention this podcast, you can click book a consultation, mention you heard me on this podcast. 

We'll have a quick 15 minute chat and I'll do a free audit from there. 

I'll just have a little list of questions I need to ask. I also have a little handout. It talks about the top seven SEO mistakes I see all the time.

 So make sure to download that ,see it, fix it, hire someone, whatever you can do. 

So I will be sending all of my clients to that link, if you like please go look at this. 

Definitely check that out. 

And then where can people connect with you and contact you and have a chat? 

Yeah, so you can contact me at Stephanie Marie Marketing and that's the normal spelling,

Stephanie with a pH and then Instagram, smmSEOAgency, and then LinkedIn at Stephanie Marie Marketing on LinkedIn as well. Perfect. 

And we'll link that of course in the show notes to make it easy so everybody can just click and go over and find you. 

Thank you so much for joining us. Yeah, thank you. Woo woo. All right.

Well everybody, thanks for joining us today. We're so glad you're here. 

And let us know what you think. You can drop a text in the, the show notes, the The link? Is that right?

It's a link. You can also do a voice note. 

Sweet. Yeah. So let us know what you think.

Let us know your questions and then that way the next time step is on, we can make sure to ask her. 

And we can't wait to see you next time. 

Have a great one. 


Thanks for joining us today. If you like this info, subscribe before you go so you never miss out on something related to SEO. 

See you next time.

(Cont.) What is Black Hat SEO? w/ Stephanie Long (Part 2)