Preface: I actually wrote this post about 3 months ago but elected not to post it because I had an upcoming speaking engagement and didnt want to possibly upset the people that invited me to speak. Post-Panda-Update & Post-Speaking-Engagement I thought I’d let it see the light of day. Enjoy. Or Don’t
You know there was a time I loved calling myself a whitehat. I was proud to be part of THAT community. I scoffed at those dirty grey and blackhats and their stupidity at thinking they could game google. I mean don’t they know that those stupid tricks will only get their site banned?
Over time I started realizing that there were only really 2 kinds of white-hats. The ones complaining about how they were doing everything by the book and getting their asses handed to them by “unethical tactics”, and the ones that were claiming success that didn’t belong to them. To explain the latter of these two… what I mean is that the sites that they work on or for aren’t so much getting great links and rankings because of anything they are doing but more so because the site they are working on or for happened to be in a niche that bloggers find interesting or entertaining.
It’s easy to preach great content when you have a great subject. But no one gives a shit about non-clog toilets or pulse oximeters or single phase diode bridge rectifiers. Sure you might be able to piece together 1 or 2 bits of link-bait but you can be sure that you aren’t going to get the anchor text that you want.
Once I figured this out I began to flirt with some greyhat techniques. You know what I discovered? They worked! But more importantly, that with a little common sense they worked damned good. None of my sites got banned. Once I figured that out it was like the blinders taken off. Because I realized that pretty much everyone on the front page serp of just about any competitive niche WASN’T playing by whitehat rules.
Even still, I continued to participate in my little white hat SEO communities hoping to glean some useful insights or just enjoy the community. The problem was, the longer I practiced and studied greyhat, the more annoyed I got with the piss poor advice and absolute falsehoods I saw being doled out by so called SEO experts to newbie’s who had no way of knowing that the advice they were soaking up was going to keep them at the back of the search engine results pages (serps) for the foreseeable future. Whitehat isn’t just a bit slower. It’s wishful thinking. It’s fucking irresponsible.
If you are charging your clients for service and not being competitive then you are ripping off your clients. It’s as simple as that. I know you whitehats are squirming in your seat right now shaking your little fists and saying, “It’s not sustainable. Our strategy is based around long term results!”. No, it’s not. Your strategy is based around wishful thinking and hoping that someday Google will do your job for you so you don’t have to. Until Google starts enforcing the rules, there aren’t any. And as long as that is true anyone who is not waiting around for them to be enforced is going to rank. Anyone who does wait around won’t. You have an obligation to your clients to do everything in your power to rank their sites using the most effective methods currently available to you.
You know it always makes me laugh that it’s the white hats who are constantly admonishing snake-oil SEO salesmen. NEWS FLASH! You are that snake oil salesman. Every time you send your client a monthly bill without doing anything to rank their sites other than send off a useless link request or two and churn out some blog posts, you are ripping them off. You are the reason why no one believes SEO works. Because doing it your way doesn’t. Not so long as the other methods you are ignoring work better.
Btw, just a little tip: If your main offering is quality content – YOU ARE NOT AN SEO, You are a writer. If you are billing your client SEO prices for writing services you are ripping them off. If you didn’t go to college for or otherwise study writing and literature and you are offering writing services to your client rather than advising them to hire someone who actually specializes and is trained in writing, you are ripping them off.
With the exception of very large sites, most onsite optimization opportunities can be identified and charted in an audit in a matter of a few days. Implementation in most cases won’t take very long either and doesn’t even really need to be conducted by an SEO if the audit is written up properly. What does that leave; content strategy and off-site SEO. The content strategy is just that… a STRATEGY, which can be handed off to a competent writer. If you are still charging your client after this point and you aren’t competing with all the tools available and you aren’t advising them of someone else who could or would, then you are doing your client a disservice. If you aren’t informing them that while Google would have them believe that certain methods are against the rules, that in all likelihood given the competition they will not rank without said methods, you are doing your client a disservice. Following unenforced rules isn’t going to make those rules effective. It’s just going to make you ineffective.
P.S. STFU about Demand Media. The only reason you whiny bitches keep bringing it up is because you can’t outrank them. eHow is no more a content farm than squidoo, hubpages, CNN, huffpo or countless other sites. If you knew how to rank sites yours would be in position 1 and eHow wouldn’t matter.
P.P.S.S. Stop sending me service request emails for “whitehat manual link building”. THERE IS NO SUCH THING. You either have whitehat linkbuilding (not very effective) or manual link building (decidedly greyhat.. usually effective). Pick one. Or better yet! Stop mentioning hat colors in your emails and just ask for what you want specifically!
Disclaimer: Before you go all huffy on me and start needlessly defending yourself, note these 2 points: Firstly, I know some really really smart “whitehats” who know how to think outside the box while still bearing some semblance to the term whitehat. These guys (and gals – Happy Debra? ) don’t bother me. They are also few and far between. Secondly, in my business (Search Fanatics) I offer the client whatever kind of link building they prefer. If they want the whitest of white we give it to them. The difference is, I first inform them of the various risks and rewards of ALL strategies and then let them make INFORMED decisions rather than just pandering to google all day long and waving my whitehat around to other so called SEO’s who for the most part couldn’t link build their way out of a paper bag and use being supposedly “whitehat” as a cover for their utter lack of linkbuilding skills. There. I said it. NOW you can’t get huffy.
Great Response/Discussion Posts:
Blackhat SEO is a Joke
(this is great satire and still valid. I should also point out I don’t advocate Blackhat either. I dabble in the grey stuff)