Blackhat SEO is a Joke

Posted on by in Organic SEO

This post was inspired by Kris Roadruck’s post yesterday, titled “Whitehat SEO is a Joke

Background: Kris and I both spoke at the recent Distilled Linkbuilding conference’s and shared the same topic “Lessons from the Darkside” – while I filled the slot in London, Kris filled the same slot in New Orleans.  Kris is a proud badge wearing grey hat, I spent years working in poker SEO and know a heck of a lot about black hat tactics, but no longer practice them commercially.

You know, there was a time when I called myself a Black Hat, and was proud to be part of THAT community – using automated bulk tools, finding php vulnerabilities, injecting links, mass spam submission, building orphaned pages using poorly constructed search forms, the list goes on (and on).

white hat awesome duck I’ve long preached that people in the white hat community were all unicorn believing naive marketers, with their build it and they will come mentality to linkbuilding which was never going to compete on valuable search terms.

Things have changed however, and its nothing to do with ethics, or the black/white hat debate (which I’ve found myself thrust into a bit recently).

The reason why black hat sucks is that its not scalable, from a commercial sense.

Black hat techniques are fine for “lower order” websites.  You know the kind, someone put together in 20 minutes on wordpress using a $0.99 per month hosting package and expect to rank for valuable commercial terms in 48 hours.

If that’s your situation, then black hat may well be the way to go.  You’re likely to get some traffic and traction if you do it well enough, but you’re always going to be in the situation where you start every morning by checking if today is the day you get booted out of google’s index.  Trust me, I used to do that EVERY morning.  When it happened it sucked, and it did happen.

If however you have a web property that has some value to it, then true blackhat strategies are not the way forward.  If you are working agency side, having to explain to your client just why their website has disappeared is NOT fun.  If (heaven forbid) you are client side, or its your own property that’s just been penalised, then you’re in the situation where you have to start everything from scratch, or get your house in order and submit a reconsideration request (which I still think is a sham).

Notice I’m not saying that black hat is a ‘bad thing’ to do:

because it isn’t.  Google guidelines are just that, GUIDELINES.  They are mainly there to serve two purposes: 1) making the web as easy as possible to crawl, and 2) not messing with their PageRank algo, which until recently with the advent of social scoring is the only real mechanism they’ve had to sort the noise from the signal.

The reason you shouldn’t do black hat, is because you’re very unlikely to build a huge web presence or business out of it.  Even if you are the 0.0001% that do manage it, you’re always running the risk of losing it all in either an algo update that nullifies your competitive advantage, or if you’re big enough getting a manual booting from the webspam team.

Black Hat = Risk Management

blackhat is risk managementwhat it all boils down to then, is risk management.  If you’re working on a project that you simply dont care if it lives or dies, then you may well engage in some of the nefarious tactics that (still) work.  If on the other hand you’re planning on building something of value, why would you risk it?

The same goes for client work, if you’re engaging in these strategies without your clients full knowledge and consent, you are at best misguided and more likely to be professionally negligent as an SEO – and the world needs less of these so called “seo experts” sullying the name of our trade.

</rant over>

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