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If you’ve spent even a small amount of time looking up SEO, you probably already know that “white hat” tactics are vital for search engine rankings. Unfortunately, you’ll also probably find several different opinions about what that actually means. Bottom line, what is white hat SEO in Phoenix?

White hat tactics are those that help improve a site’s SEO rankings the right way. They rely on building authority and relevance in both your industry and local area. They avoid attempts to deceive search engines (black hat tactics).

White hat tactics have either been verified by search engines, industry experts, or both. However, it’s about more than a strategy; it’s a mindset. Keep reading to find out what those strategies and mindset look like.

Avoiding Black Hat Tactics: Keep the Customer First

The history of SEO is riddled with clever webmasters who have found ways to trick search engines. They achieved rankings by subverting algorithms with tactics that often served to only increase SEO rankings. They never improved the user experience. In fact, in many cases, they made it worse.

These tactics were dubbed “black hat SEO.” A few of the most common black hat tactics include:

  • buying backlinks to your site
  • hiding extra webpage text so that it was only visible to search engines, not visitors
  • stuffing SEO (meta) descriptions with keywords
  • stuffing keywords excessively on webpages
  • “spinning” articles and blog posts

Google and other search engines caught on to these tactics quickly. Sites using them are now penalized and could lose all of their rankings. That’s why we put a special focus on the customer experience when considering white hat tactics.

White Hat SEO in Phoenix

White hat SEO refers to the tactics considered as good practice by search engines. To find out what that means, Google recommends putting your website’s visitors first. What is most helpful to them? What will guide them through the marketing funnel? How relevant is your business in its industry and Metro Phoenix?

This method of thinking is at the heart of white hat SEO. It serves as a guide to delivering what both customers and search engines are looking for.

Still, there are several recommendations to help us understand white hat SEO. Here, we’ll discuss how to adopt those tactics in metro Phoenix.

Localizing Your Digital Efforts

If you want to rank locally in the Valley, you’ll have to prove your company’s relevance in Metro Phoenix. And you have to do so in a way that’s both honest and natural.

For webpages, this means including local toponyms. You do this by including terms that are commonly used to describe the local area. For example, local toponyms for Phoenix include:

  • Metro Phoenix
  • The Valley
  • East Valley
  • Valley of the Sun

Just remember to use local toponyms naturally. Doing so avoids another old black hat tactic: “keyword stuffing.” This means using specific keywords excessively in an unnatural way. Keyword stuffing no longer works, and it may actually harm your SEO rankings.

Again, stay focused on customers. That’s the foundation of a white hat approach.

Ranking in Phoenix With Google Business Profiles

There’s a reason SEO is so effective: Google remains the first place consumers look to find pretty much anything. That includes local businesses, attractions, and experiences.

However, local businesses need one extra step to attract nearby customers: they have to rank on Google Maps. You do this by setting up a Google Business Profile.

Google Business Profiles (formerly Google My Business profiles) serve as an introduction to your business in Google’s search results. They also include the business information that appears in Google Maps.

Your business’s online presence is obscured without a Google Business Profile. Even worse, it’s completely invisible when consumers use Google Maps to search their local area.

Setting up a Google Business Profile is vital for both online success and remaining competitive. If your customers aren’t finding you on Google, you can bet they’re finding your competitors.

Ensure that your profile includes accurate, relevant information. You can include pictures, links, and updates, products, services, and reviews (among other details). The more information you include, the more helpful it will be for potential customers. That’s the white hat approach to Google Business Profiles.

We have an entire guide to setting up your Google Business Profile the right way. If you’re not sure where to start, go there.

White Hat Content: Writing for Customers

You may have noticed that most of the black hat tactics previously mentioned center on written content. Black hat tactics often focus on writing content that targets search engines, not the customer. 

These practices were detrimental to business goals even before search engines began penalizing them. Subpar customer experiences always reduce conversions. Studies consistently proved this long before the internet.

If you aren’t adopting a customer-first approach when planning and writing your site’s content, you’ll always lose to a competitor who does. This remains true even if you top search engine rankings.

Fortunately, we’ve already published an entire guide to writing blog posts that connect with customers. It includes white hat SEO tactics Phoenix businesses can also use to write other types of content.

Earning Legitimate Backlinks the Right Way

Backlinks (other websites linking back to yours) are among the most important ranking factors for SEO. However, not all backlinks are equal.

Black hat link building (such as purchasing links or publishing to spam sites) is another tactic that worked in the past but can get you penalized now. The key is to build a backlink profile that includes relevant, authoritative links to your website.

Local Citations

Local citations are one of the easiest ways to build the foundation of a white hat SEO backlink profile.

Local citations refer to directories that offer local business listings. Some of the most popular include Yelp, Yellow Pages, and Google Business Profiles. They are also often referred to as NAPs (name, address, phone) listings.

There are about 70 directories that have been dubbed the “core 70.” Obviously, listing your business on every single one would be time consuming.

That’s why we recommend one of two approaches. Tools like Yext and Moz Local can help automate the process of listing to every directory. However, they come with a cost.

You may also consider adding a few monthly. For example, you could spend a year adding 6 or 7 listings each month. Just remember to include the exact same information for each one.

One other note before doing this yourself: most local directories allow users to edit information in business listings. This means customers and petty competitors can unwittingly change pertinent details on any of your business listings without your knowledge. Yext and Moz Local can help you catch this.

Tip: if you need help maintaining local citations, we use local listing tools as part of our client strategies.

Backlinks From Local Organizations

Are you part of your local chamber of commerce or rotary club? How about the Better Business Bureau? These types of organizations typically give authoritative backlinks to members.

You may also be part of local associations that work within your industry. Or, maybe you’re sponsoring an even hosted by a school or nonprofit. These types of organizations typically provide backlinks as well. And don’t worry, you won’t get hit with a paid backlinks penalty for supporting a nonprofit.

Content That Targets Journalists, Bloggers, and Industry Publications

If your business produces or works with facts, figures, statistics, or other interesting pieces of data, you could become an information repository for digital publishers.

To achieve this, organize relevant data together neatly in a single space. For example, if you’re a developer in the Valley, you could report the number of new commercial construction projects for Phoenix and its suburbs in a given timeframe.

Compiling extensive information like this into a single page or blog post could help you rank without building backlinks. If publishers find you content in search engine results, you stand a better chance of getting linked to as a reference. Just remember to ensure accuracy.

Also, give credit to other sources when it’s due. This is another white hat tactic that improves trust among both search engines and digital publishers. Try to use relevant sources local to Phoenix when possible.

Looking Ahead: White Hat SEO in Phoenix

Digital marketing is always changing, and SEO is no exception. So, how do you keep up with the latest white hat SEO tactics in Phoenix? We’ve been saying it all along:

  • maintain a customer-first mindset
  • show how relevant your business is to its industry and metro Phoenix

You’ll easily set yourself up for success by sticking with these two principals even as SEO changes. And, of course, check back here for the latest SEO news!

Finding SEO Help When You Need It

We get it; SEO takes a lot of time, work, and planning. Most business owners simply don’t have time to do it and run their business.

That’s where we come in! We invite you to discover how we use modules to maintain affordable SEO services in Phoenix and the surrounding area. We only use white hat tactics when building SEO plans for our clients and will work closely with you to build an effective strategy. Contact us today!


I'm equal parts tech nerd and adventurer. I absolutely love all things blockchain, metaverse, and digital marketing. When I'm not typing away on my keyboard, I can often be found exploring Chattanooga's hiking trails or climbing its world-class crags. Learn more about me on my LinkedIn profile.