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:

I Don’t Care What Colour Your Hat Is, Ignoring Content Is No Laughing Matter

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)

White Hat SEO: It F@$#ing Works

Filed under: Rants

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  1. Hey Kris, while I sympathize with most of your arguments, I think that your waiting to even acknowledge truly creative white hat link building techniques do exist until your disclaimer at the very end was a little frustrating. The truth is that there are advanced white hat techniques, both on-site and off-site, but they are rare, difficult, and expensive. Normally, they involve a seriously well coordinated campaign of insightful, valuable content creation, heavy targeted outreach, and real human interaction (ie: getting on the phones). These campaigns are ALWAYS custom. Anyway, thanks for telling it like it is as usual!
    • Kris Roadruck:
      Well I didn't mention it at the end because frankly.... I was trollin a little bit. Whats a post without a little stirred emotion. Your response is spot on though. I'm always proud when I see whitehats who can still get it done. BIG TIME. Because its 2x as hard. Whitehats that can still smash SERPs are ballin. Wish there was more of them.
      • Jeff of the North:
        In my experience, most white hat SEO people fail because they simply don't know what they're doing. They never test anything, and they believe every bit of crazy nonsense the "experts" tell them (much of which is misinformation). You also have to realize that many people doing SEO (white/grey/black) are the exact same as people working at any other job. They go to work and do what they're told. Period. They don't get paid to test things or do research. They just want to do their job, go home, have a beer, and watch the game like everyone else. Almost none are like you, me, and the others who are here reading this - those of us who actually spend considerable time to really be specialists who know what they're doing. Which is the same in any industry. Some people really love the challenge of being good at something, and the other 90% call themselves experts when they aren't (which, like you said, makes many of them real pricks for openly ripping off clients like that). Oh well. This whole post could easily be reworded as an attack on any profession where the majority of people do the bare minimum to take home their pay check, which is most people in most jobs. Sad, but we all know it's true. White hat works, it's all I do. All my client sites rank top-5 across Bing, Yahoo, and Google, and it's been that way for several years. No gimmicks, I just understand how search engines work and how people look for stuff online. Frankly I'm thrilled that most people find SEO so difficult, considering how easy it really is.
  2. My friend, thou speakest truth. There's nothing I can really disagree with here. Now it's just a matter of waiting for the Google ban to hit you. Which, of course, it won't. ;)
  3. This has to be one of the best posts I've read in a while, Kris! I'm sure you realize that there are a lot of SEOs that feel the same way. There's just very few that are willing to say so out loud. I like what one of our mutual friends puts on one of his profiles.... "There IS no hat!" ;)
  4. I kind of was hoping you'd eventually get around to telling us how you really felt about the subject ;-) I too agree that a competent SEO should be well versed in all methods. Its your duty to explain to the client risk and reward as you say and let them choose because after all it's their site. Great post..thanks!
  5. I am wiping away a tear of pride even though I had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this post. I've continued to ask for examples of well-ranking sites in competitive niches that used only whitehat tactics, and I've so far gotten zero responses. Maybe one day someone will point one out to me, if one exists.
    • Word on the street is you and I need to have a conversation. Thanks for reminding me :-D And thanks for your comment!
  6. Jason Urquhart:
    Best SEO post I have read in a while.
  7. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter... Seriously, excellent stuff. We should educate about risk and reward, not just cover our own backpipes with safe yet ineffective methods.
  8. I for one stand whole-heartedly in defence of best practice 'white-hat' (as you so endearingly phrase it) search marketing, SEO and spider accessibility. Frankly, there are plenty of tricks which work very well, I for one have experimented a great deal in my time and have been most successful where I have done so (and, although only with test beds and not with client sites) had sites de-listed as well, following some of those experiments. If your client's website is absolutely operating on a best practise basis then yes, it is time to raise your hands and say 'I have done all I have here', but I cannot think of many sites which do that and those still require keyword analysis, analytics reviews, content adjustments and the like. I think that this is nonsense - yes there is a lot you can do with 'black hat' techniques, but if you are a huge brand and you do not want the reputational fallout that JC Penny recently experienced then you need a damned good SEO to keep things running in a real world environment with all the pitfalls that your poorly trained staff, outdated CMS and ancient creaking servers provide. Small, manageable website? No need for white hat, it should all be there already. 20mm pages which update every few minutes? Maybe someone needs to control your strategy full time.
    • "if you are a huge brand and you do not want the reputational fallout that JC Penny recently experienced..." I don't know what planet you live on, but here on Earth if you're a big brand you can pretty much do anything you want. The bigger the brand, the more blackhat you can get. I could give you a thousand examples. JC Penny, Overstock, and so on are exceptions, and they were blatantly ignorant in what they were doing.
      • Oh yes, the brand will survive (BMW anyone?) but the agency or individual who is responsible will not and, at the end of the day, someone has to make these decisions and if the HiPPO is that they need to avoid shadier activities then that is just the way it is.
    • @LordManly Thanks for your contrasting opinions. I should point out that I was more endorsing greyhat than blackhat. I can say fairly confidently that walking the grey-line is semi-safe. Blackhat on the other hand does tend to be pretty short term only. That being said what if you have a site that only needs to rank for a holiday sale? If it doesnt matter if it gets burned after that? You going to tell your clients nah just wait 2-3 years. We'll get you there next time. Also the guys that ran the JC Penny's thing didnt get burned because they where a bit grey. They got burned because they were a bit dumb. There was a lot going on in that case and yeah. If you are an idiot and stick out like a sore thumb you are going to get torched. No denying that.
      • Oh, there is a time and place - I would not be likely to have a client who wanted to rank just for a holiday sale and if I did then I may well advise them to use more nefarious methods than I was willing to offer, but (and I am playing into your hands somewhat here) the white hat SEO is looking for long term consistent and reliable traffic on the same branded domain. They are dealing with high profile clients who would sack their agency at the first glimpse of anything that smelled even remotely like tripping a filter (this is particularly true of charities). White hat techniques work and, whilst the technical elements should be part and parcel of any design and build, for as long as they are not the clients will need consultancy from experts. I should stress that I am not denying the effectiveness of less-than-Daz-white hat methods, merely defending the reality that white-hat best practises are pretty much a required base level for any successful campaign.
  9. My brother. PREACH!
  10. Ross Hudgens:
    THIS IS BULLSHIT
  11. Ha! Love it. The hat distinctions really do need to become extinct. Even those who follow the strictest of the search engines guidelines find themselves wondering what happened when the guidelines suddenly change - as they do. For individuals, it really should be just a matter of evaluating risk and reward. For SEOs who serve client needs, it's all about informing the clients of the choices and risks of each, just as you say. Every hat color comes with its own risks and rewards, so there's not much point in worrying about which color of the rainbow a particular choice falls into. Just identify the possible risks, consider the likely outcomes, determine if the strategy is worth the risk, and decide. The only line that should never be crossed, in my opinion, is the one that involves outright harm such as hacking someone's site to inject links (don't mess with my property!). That's no longer SEO, that's just criminal activity.
  12. Well freakin' said, sir. I've been uncomfortable with the whole "hat" thing for a while as labels in general tend to oversimplify very complex things. But like Russ, I think the smart and risk-averse SEOs are lumped too closely with the whiners - and i submit THAT'S who the real problem is. The whiners. If you're going to be risk-averse, then accept the long, uphill road to good visibility and stop crying about the course that YOU charted. Or, if you're really freakin good at your job AND are risk-averse, enjoy the visibility that you've earned but do keep paying attention to what it cost to get you there.
    • @minchala. Yes. Exactly. Couldn't have said it better myself. :-)
  13. best post I've read for a while too, hilarious how the usual forum suspects virtually all fall into those categories and nigh on everyone who actually knows what they're doing ends up leaving those places in disgust. As a wise man said on Twitter a while back, "forget hats, there are only 2 types of SEO, effective and not effective"
  14. I think you're spot on about the audit/strategy part. That's what SEO is about. In a large corporation/agency we have writers and developers and they're pretty decent at their job. It's the SEO's job to provide an audit, make recommendations, implement best practices, and dictate strategy. The billable service shouldn't rely on ranking, but on providing "actionable insights", strategy, and direction. Factor in some metrics and that's what SEO is about - and there really isn't any applicable hat color for most of that.
  15. Amen!
  16. steven r:
    who the fuck named these techniques by colored hats?? why grey white and black. I like magenta i want a magenta hat trick :x
  17. Phenomenal post. Can I get a hallelujah?
  18. There is no white, grey, or black, or at least there shouldn't be. There is (or should only be) a risk managed strategy! Maybe it's time for me to actually post on http://jason.sh about this what with the #BrightonSEO view and now this too! Kris, yours is the most informative and well written post on this subject I have yet read - well done!
    • freaking post already! You've been so quiet lately. It's worrisome.
  19. Fucking Awesome....Im a brown hat...haha
  20. People that say they are strictly white hat are liars. They may intend to do things by the Google rules, but truth is everyone is a little gray, even if they don't intend to be.
    • I am a hacker, enter my world... Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me... Damn underachiever. They're all alike. I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. "No, Ms. Smith, I didn't show my work. I did it in my head..." Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike. I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn't like me... Or feels threatened by me.. Or thinks I'm a smart ass.. Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here... Damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike. And then it happened... a door opened to a world... rushing through the phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is found. "This is it... this is where I belong..." I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to them, may never hear from them again... I know you all... see my orange butt phone? Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They're all alike... You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert. This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals. Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for. I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike. I'm a white hat.. i sign documents with fortune 50 companies that we will not violate Google Webmaster Guidelines, this passes attorneys and we are now under weigh.. I don't do link building.. I don't use any tools for automated queries other than the ones Google provides. I'm dealing with domains registered in the 80s, sites with 10000 pages, or 100,000 products. 6 figure budgets for 6 week engagements.. The client doesn't want to use the word "xxxxx", because it's not conservative enough, they want to use "xxxxxx xxx". "xxxxx" is searched 5000 more times a month, and also is the more psychologically relevant keyword term to the stage in the buying cycle. So instead of going after traffic, we are going after "branding" in search. We manage content, we look at search volumes, we target relevant keyword phrases based on search personas we have developed from customer profiles based on actual monetary data or purchases, frequency of visits in store, etc.. oh yeah, i happen to have bachelors degrees in psychology and criminal justice, so my SEO is about providing "the most uniquely relevant results for the searcher", if my client happens to fit that need than whatever i need to do within the rules or rules that have not been written yet.. to make them #1 serves Google's purpose.. Yes.. i am ultra white hat.. and if you call me a liar.. to my face.. a. i will stomp a mud hole in your arse, or maybe just pick you up off the ground by your neck? (i'm 6'4" 230) b. it might be a slanderous statement. unless you post it online then it's libelous.. and since that is our company position, you are also attacking a corporate entity... c. Some of the stuff i do, there are NO RULES for. The rules they have... I follow, and it's company policy. No one is allowed to use anything other than Google approved tool on a website we are working on. Google's Terms of Service do not allow the sending of automated queries of any sort to our system without express permission in advance from Google. Sending automated queries absorbs resources and includes using any software (such as WebPosition Gold™) to send automated queries to Google to determine how a website or webpage ranks in Google search results for various queries. Fyi.. i've been doing SEO for 16 years now.. make over 6 figures a year.. and chances are within the last month, you have been on a site I did SEO on. Am I alone?.. maybe.. Am I unique?.. absolutely.. Do i care if you think I am white hat or not? not at all.. Btw.. I was the guy on the Black Hat panel at Pubcon talking about "Due Dilligence in SEO" - talking about Sarbanes Oxley, SEO and how it affects publicly traded companies. I know black hat, i've done SEO for adult websites, I can't do it anymore based on doing it for big publicly traded companies. They don't like Adult webmasters working on their websites. I have blogs AND websites that get over 100k uniques a day.. that i haven't touched in months... but i started in 1996.. Long Term SEO is a farce.. ? i've got 16 years of "long-term SEO" that you will never beat no matter how many links.. and eHow? they are easy to bump off the front page. You honestly have no clue what it is like to do long term SEO and have a B2B client make 3.8 billion off your efforts, do you? oh... this $$$$ hit 4 years after we started our SEO engagement and had #1-#3 first page placements for about 50 complex b2b search terms.. but thinking ahead and planning search positioning and branding based on long term "permanent SEO"... permanent = site i haven't touched in over 6 months.. old client.. still #1 for major money term.. that page has been edited well over 100 times in 4 years.. just not recently since they are #1 for the keyword phrase that converts 63% of the time and the page has a 12% bounce rate cum, over last 4 years... So next time before you write a blog on someone who actually has to fill out a spread sheet by hand to ensure accurate ranking reports go to clients. Personalization off, instant search off, cache cleared, logged out of any Google account.. search for client's term, take screen shot, make spreadsheet notation of position percentage change since last month/quarter and move on. Yes I am a white COAT seo.. my SEO works and it works well and no one on the planet does it EXACTLY like me. Just because i test, test and re-test again.. (p.s. see #whitecoatseo or #whitecoatseo4social) I don't need blogs or anyone else to tell me how to do SEO.. i've been testing it for 16 years. Will I write a blog telling you how exploit what i figured out? not a chance.. do i sell ads on my blog? nope.. it's strictly for testing. (and for people to read) I will test it for 90 days then use it on multiple clients and then document results... Jeff.. Hi. my name is Steve.. and I do follow the existing Google Guidelines for SEO.. and they know it.
  21. Davor Bomestar:
    You can do a job bad or good, more agressively or less, and thats why you get hired because of your specific "recipe" how you do things. But on the other hand, I wouldn't bash on people who do things whitehat, as thats their USP :) Why should we all be "internet marketers" when some of us can be PR, Social Media experts, SEOs, whitehaters, CRO experts etc. I mean we all heard 100 times if you can't compete with big guys go to or create smaller niche an brand yourself as authority there. I think whitehat is just a "subniche" of SEO. Anyway, in my book there is only one hat and thats myhat ;)
  22. How about a yin-and-yang hat? Or better, a Rorschach hat (Watchmen)?
  23. Matt:
    Fantastic post, reminds me a little of one I write last year: http://dfmag.me/s/6x102
  24. First of all: every one who speaks honestly and clear, even though I may not agree with has and will have always my respect, and sometimes I will feel better having an open discussion with him that 1000 praises from people who think like me. Second: SEO is not a question of hats. It is a matter of ROI. Am I dealing with a website which topics (and people) let you do SEO and Inbound according to the books? Fantastic! I am the first who will ask and pretend to follow the book, because I will see the ROI behind the great fun of coordinating great inbound and link building campaigns based on content, infographics, ebooks, presos and so on. Am I dealing with a website that cannot work so good because their topic - let say so - sucks? I will look to the objective (ROI) and see what tactics are the best ones. And grey is not black. No, I am not so stupid to play against my client. But if I can stress the system, if I'm able to walk on the edge of the blade without falling, I will use those grey tactics I consider the most useful. And I won't consider myself unethical, as I am not gaming the system: I'm using it the most I can. Ah!... and if a great "white" idea comes out from the hat that can benefit the SEO campaign, obviously I will add it to the mix. White Hat, Black Hat... silly words of a silly fundamentalistic discussion :)
  25. Interesting and informative post but to all the people commenting and agreeing with you, I hope you've been honest and posted your thoughts on different colour hats BEFORE Kris posted here... lets hope he's not been the one brave enough to write this blog for those of you to then come along and agree and give your support... about time a lot of us SEO's got a backbone of our own... if the whiners (and the SEO losers) want to whine thats fine, let 'em, just concentrate on your clients, your service levels and your own reputation. Me, I had a conversation like this with a UK SEO via Cre8asite years ago.... some things never change... and if they do they just take a while :)
  26. Michel:
    I agree on ur post Kris. I cant stand people who mention they are solely whitehat and pretend they are the pope themself . Every now and then you have to cross a border to get result.
  27. Whitehat SEO is a Joke... A post I don't really agree with, but that I need to post to give my next submission some context....
  28. Debra Mastaler:
    ..."These guys (and gals – Happy Debra? )" Happy now :)
  29. I can't even wear a fucking hat. My ears are too big.
  30. Client wants to win, that's why they are hiring an SEO. They are fighting a war against competition and SEOs have their own battle to win. All is fair. Makes perfect sense. Google will always try to catch up - that's their job. And we will always try to come up with ways to win our battle - that's our job. And if we fall under Google's sword, there will be another to take our place.
  31. james:
    Yeah right, CNN and eHow should get all the praise and glory, cause your dumb shmuck whose a white hat, who thinks he's a black hat
    • Actually I've never ever claimed to be a blackhat. Grey at best. And if Owning my own home, My own multi-million dollar company and being generally well respected amongst most of my peers and colleages makes me a schmuch I'll take that any day. Just like Im sure the owners of eHow will keep being the "schmucks" that own a billion dollar content business while you are aloof from us all but dont even have the stones to leave a mark other than a generic "james". Obvious troll is obvious.
  32. LOLz: "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." - So true. Hugely entertaining. I've tested 8 link development services, including the services of a "link building prophet" who ended up being a total freak & failure. Needless to say, I have a really clear idea of what works and what doesn't. Complex search operators + compensation free manual link requests don't. You know how much spam webmasters get these days? Link rentals - hugely expensive, who has that kind of cash? For all the SEOs that say "content is king" and all the social media marketers that say "be authentic", unless you are a Internet celebrity, that ain't gonna work for most people. For all the scintillating content you can authentically produce, if no one links to you, no one will find you, and you ain't gonna rank. It's a bit of a catch 22. So what to do? Take a walk on the grey side.
  33. very interesting post, kris. one thing, does the increasing influence of the social web in search results play any factor into your thoughts in this post? with Google leaning more and more towards socially-biased results, do the "white hats" gain any advantage? of course social signals are gameable to a certain extent, but much much less so than the link graph.
  34. I agree. And I would also ask if someone would blog about the legend of the hat color in SEO. SEO is about risk and the level you are offering your client those options.
  35. + eleventy-billion Best rant, I mean post, I've read in a very long. Can't wait for the next installment.
  36. As a guy that's been doing SEO for a while I know for a fact that Google doesn't do anything about top ranking sites that are breaking Google TOS. While I can appreciate they talk a lot the reality is that the only sites that are being hurt are the ones that don't go the extra mile. It just doesn't make sense to wait for Google anymore.. they're always way behind the curve. They try, but trying your best doesn't get you home to f the prom queen as Sean Connery would say.
  37. Hallejah Kris! Finally someone with both the ability and the balls spoke the truth as most (successful) practicing SEOs know it.
  38. Kris, I savored your post!! I just have to quote Lorna's spot-on comment: "For all the scintillating content you can authentically produce, if no one links to you, no one will find you, and you ain’t gonna rank. It’s a bit of a catch 22. So what to do? " Answer, hire Click2Rank! ;-)
  39. Oh my. Kris, I'm not going to read any of the other comments here, because I don't care if anyone else has responded with these points or not, and I don't want to alter my reply to this post artificially after reading what others have said. I love how you rail against the "myth" of white-hat SEO as a viable tactic in highly competitive markets that aren't the darling of bloggers and such. Except its bullshit. Pure. Simple. bullshit. Why do I know it is? Because I've spent the better part of several years helping clients compete in extreme edge competitive markets where the vast majority of competitors use black and gray hat. And I've helped those clients reap millions upon millions in revenue they hadn't been seeing before I came along. I'm not saying gray-hat isn't a tactic I've called upon under limited circumstances. Because I have. Because in some scenarios you're absolutely correct about the need to employ them. Except it's not an all or nothing issue Kris. You paint is as such, but it's not. That's where the bullshit comes in our industry. People firmly on one side or the other in every situation. Maybe you've only worked in situations where you thought gray hat or darker was the only solution or the easiest solution. Or maybe you thought it was the fastest path to success. Maybe its true that in some situations. It isn't in every situation. Personally, for the most part, I work with clients who understand the importance of establishing real marketing budgets. Budgets large enough to afford the leverage in white hat tactics to overcome the gray hat or black hat market they're up against. And if you work with companies that can afford to apply that leverage, but instead, you're selling them magic pill gray hat tactics or darker hat tactics, maybe you should look in the mirror Kris. And ask yourself why you are pointing fingers and claiming white hat is a farce.
  40. For the record, I never got down to your disclaimer initially - half-way down the sea of hatred and lies spewed were enough for me. I've since read the disclaimer, conveniently placed at the end like some sort of guilt-ridden detritus apparently. You put a great deal of emphasis on the link building thing, as do so many who are enamored of that shiny object. Maybe that's the problem. I coordinate work that involves proper best practices that 90% of our industry ignores or doesn't understand, so I may be one of those people you seem to not have a problem with. Except if you're all about link building as the all important tactic you make it out to be, (not to mention the muddy-gray/black-hat nonsense put out at that conference down in NOLA recently), maybe it's because you yourself don't understand those on-site best practices related to information retrieval, topical focus and content organization.
    • Thems fightin words Alan. I see there is only one way we can settle this. I Challenge you.... to a DANCE OFF!! :P
      • A Google Dance? Would this be like some sort of who's serp rankings are bigger than the other guys?
      • Serps? god no that would be entirely too relevant. I meant an actual dance off. :-D Alan you and I both know I know quite a bit about content and site architecture. We also both know that IR and site themeing is awesome but google is still very much a popularity contest. Be it links, social mentions, citations, shares and what have you's. Google is paying attention to what it perceives people feel is important/popular/relevant. If your site has beautifully crafted content and perfect site architecture it still wont rank in a vacuum in any highly competative niche. (I realize that if you have beautifully crafted content the likelihood of having NO links/mentions/tweets is low but I'm illustrating a point). Can you influence what happens off site with onsite? Of course! Will having your onsite nailed down give you a serious edge against the competition if your link graph is equal? Absolutely. And when you start off with clients that already have a million inbounds and a recognizable brand doing a little onsite is exactly what the doctor ordered. But when you are taking on a client who is just starting out in a competitive space the bulk of the initial uphill battle for them is going to be off-site seo. For now at least that means links (looks like the landscape is changing a bit which is cool I like new challenges). So now were are we at. Client has options. They can spend all of their time on content and content promotion and hope for the best. Or they can elect to get a little push. Content absolutely might work for them provided they have access to some talented writers and have a digestible subject matter. This isn't always the case. When its not they are left with a choice. 1) People who keep telling them over and over that they wont or can't do what'll take to get them ranked because its "unethical". 2) People who say they can get the job done but who are actually very poorly equipped to do so (Ross Hudgens gave a great example here: http://www.rosshudgens.com/please-exit-the-link-building/ of the office monkey who's sole tactic is firing off 5 link begging request emails a week) 3) Someone who is willing to work outside of "the guidelines", inform them of the risk, and then get the job done. Its been my experience that given the option most would-be clients who fit this senario will take #3 every time. Most of them just end up having to slog through a few bad experiences with options #1 & #2 before they get there. This usually leaves them pretty bitter. All that being said... big reveal coming in a few days :-D
        • ".........google is still very much a popularity contest." HA- too true, and becoming more prevalent every day.
  41. White hat is a joke. I agree with this so much. In my opinion, anyone who is not doing automated link building along with their quality link building is failing at SEO. How do you think my clients are supposed to rank in super competitive niches if I don't match the tactics other SEOs are using, such as article spinning, xrumer, scrapebox, BMD, etc? They won't. Plain and simple. You know how many of my sites and client sites I do this with? All of them. You know how many of those sites have gotten penalized, or de-indexed? None of them. After the panda algo change, the sites moved up in the rankings. It's because I diversify my backlink profile, with quality links, and low quality links. Articles, social bookmarks, blog posts, blog comments, wikis. So what if articles get devalued. That's a small part of my overall strategy. You all need to quit being pussies and start doing some real link building.
  42. Dominic:
    I maybe over analyzing this, but here goes. Isn't this post a white hat linkbait tactic talking about gray hat tactics out doing white hat tactics on a gray hat's blog?...did...did anyone else see Pandora's box open?
    • Haha, I was thinking the same thing, Dominic. I think there's far too much discussion of "white hat this", "grey hat that" and "black hat the other." What those terms even mean varies person to person and, as the search engines continue to adjust their policies and algorithms, day to day. We'd all be better off looking at the benefits and risks of specific tactics rather than running around, pointing at each others imaginary hats and freaking out. But it sure does make great linkbait. :)
  43. Hi there - you essentially seem to be saying it's all about link building, if I understand correctly. On site / architectural doesn't take long to fix, content is just that - content, strategy doesn't need an SEO - so that leaves ....... linking? What sort of linking are you suggesting is working?
  44. A company can offer what it chooses for the reasons it chooses, but for a company to say "you can't do XYZ" to their clients when really it's "we don't want to do XYZ for you" is just misleading. If your company is cool with XYZ and speaks truthfully about its risks and rewards (as you said toward the end), I'm much more likely to trust you and buy from you EVEN IF I do not elect for that specific service. This post is actually a great follow up to your NOLA Q&A where someone asked about the ethics of some of these techniques. Nice presentation in NOLA btw.
  45. Fantastic article! It's part of the Google veil that they want us to believe that their algo will rank the most relevant, whitest websites out there. But the fact of the matter is they don't, and despite their best efforts I don't think they will in the foreseeable future. If you wanna run with the big dogs on the top SERPs you have to be willing to get your hands dirty a little bit as well as use what you call, 'Common Sense'. Great post!
  46. I have to say I agree with the majority of this article, though moreso the point of having "hats" to begin with seems rather silly in an industry that specializes in trying to guess and essentially "beat" the algorithm rather than let these sites do it naturally. If we were all truly white hat, we would just be focusing mostly on site architecture and content. But I digress and want to point out something that made me laugh because I was thinking more or less the same thing yesterday. "… 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. " And I'll add that there are people who care, but they likely aren't going to link to you. What cracks me up about the recent set of "experts" is they tell you the answer is, "well build content worth linking to." Well no SH*T, that's the whole point of me or this client having a site up to begin with..we're trying to SELL something. It's like telling a burger joint to "just make burgers that people will want to eat". That's all well and good but if you're in a remote location and you're competing against McDonald's, how is THAT the answer? What we shouldn't advertise in a paper? Technically we pay for ads. We shouldn't ask people to spread the word? That's not necessary "natural link building" so I don't know why if you translate that into SEO, it's considered any other hat but white. A person owning a business doesn't have time to rely solely on foot traffic UNLESS they are in a good location or a well-known brand to begin with. They have cash invested and need to pay their dues. They want results. I will say that I've helped small and large sites gain incredible ranking results with just simply white-hat tactics and very little in ways of link building. But they were large popular sites to begin with which also had the capital to have people rearrange the architecture and write batches of quality content in a very timely manner. They truly benefit from this but they are popular to begin with. The little guy with great product but no popularity is going to need a boost if they want quick results. I shun black-hat tactics but I can't say strictly white-hat is 100% the answer for everyone.
  47. Whew, its about freaking time... someone had to say it!!! Just after the panda update took place it was as if my blinders were removed and I could finally see how much time had been wasted pretending to be whitehat. Its like ive we have all been getting lied to by the so called 'experts'.
  48. Man, I couldnt agree more, but you won't find me hittin the "share" button. haha You know I'll never over promise but i do find myself dabbling in the darker arts, in search of a more "cost-efficient" (really less time consuming) way of SEO. I find myself up against a wall for some of these companies though (Like a singing telegram lady, or video sewer line inspection....shitty line of work there, and shitty to "try" and market too.) It's more experimentation than just choosing a darker path for me, Im all about results, and if i cant get them the way google wants me to, in the time frame my client wants me to, I need to think outside the box. If i didnt id be "ripping them off" Man im happy to have found this post, keep it up my friend.
  49. bman:
    What happened to WH-nut case #1 Doug Heil?
  50. Azankalord:
    It's great that so many SEOs believe in white hat so all the rest of us can dominate the rankings. Come on guys! Listen to Matt Cutts, generate great content and the links will naturally come. But by then you may have gone bankrupt or not even being alive...
  51. Holy fuck, I love you so much right now. Sometimes you just come across an article that lists your every thought down as you're reading it. You're a freaking psychic. This reminds me a bit of John Andrew's article: http://www.johnon.com/744/try-or-stay-home.html I appreciate your objectivity, and I feel like people who have actually done SEO for their own small business or for non-existent brands eventually converge to the same conclusion. It makes me sick that some whitehatters slothing around in forums will preach "quality content" in the face of people who have been outranked through black/grey tactics for years. In the end, white hat can become a scapegoat. As an SEO consultant, you're paid for results, not excuses. As a small business owner doing SEO, who gives a damn what SEOs think, you're just trying to rank to keep food on the table. You have another subscriber.
  52. SEOSLAYER:
    If you people are really doing whitehate SEO, you're morons and deserve to fail. The best SEOS do not do a lot of whitehat SEO. Sure, take the high-road, but you'll never own the serps, and you'll be poor as shit, too. Google doesn't care about you, and you shouldn't care about Google. Look at any of the top-dogs in the serps, and you can dissect exactly what they're doing, and they're all doing the same thing. SEO isn't a mystery- we know what works, and we do it. And that's how we make an exceptional living. Oh yeah, and real SEOs SEO their own sites. It's far more profitable than working with some clown who calls you up every time their site bounces a few spots. Chances are that every loser offering "SEO services" doesn't have an f-in clue what they're doing. So, all you whitehats out there- have fun ranking that site! You can never compete with the people who know what the highest level of the game entails. Really, I don't even feel bad for you self-righteous "whitehatters." You deserve to get owned day in and day out. After all, the top-dogs kill it every day because you're so delusional. You'll never make a good living until you come to grips with the reality of the game- THAT WHITEHAT IS NOT EFFECTIVE, AND IT NEVER WILL BE.
  53. Hrimsolutions:
    I got what you mean , express thanks you for posting .Woh I am thankful to find this website through Google. Nice Blog it’s really obliging to develop our site ranking. SEO service is good service to making a rank in search engine’s is important part of Business, So we can get more benefit by the SEO service.
  54. Andykuiper:
    This sort of reminds me of kids 18 to 22 who say "I can get from X city to Y city in way lass time than you, ya just gotta be careful and know where the cops have their radar ". While most of them make it to their destination just fine, there's always the ones you read about every week who lose their license for excessive speeding, and the sad few who end up crashing... sometimes taking innocent lives along with them. The percentages aren't good, thus the high insurance rates for this group as a whole. There are always going to be rules, and those who (sometimes indigently) flaunt them, but in the long run, those who have the best driving skills and have a great knowledge of the route are the ones who prosper. Not sure what grey hat techniques you're speaking of Kris, but I can have my clients ranking (bringing in targeted traffic) without submitting them to excessive risks. I do find it interesting listening to grey and black hat operators, as they often have a great understanding of white hat, and some of what they prescribe, if toned down, can be extremely useful. The grey and black hat's are on the cutting edge... and for this they earn my respect.
  55. This sort of reminds me of kids 18 to 22 who say "I can get from X city to Y city in way lass time than you, ya just gotta be careful and know where the cops have their radar ". While most of them make it to their destination just fine, there's always the ones you read about every week who lose their license for excessive speeding, and the sad few who end up crashing... sometimes taking innocent lives along with them. The percentages aren't good, thus the high insurance rates for this group as a whole. There are always going to be rules, and those who (sometimes indigently) flaunt them, but in the long run, those who have the best driving skills and have a great knowledge of the route are the ones who prosper. Not sure what grey hat techniques you're speaking of Kris, but I can have my clients ranking (bringing in targeted traffic) without submitting them to excessive risks. I do find it interesting listening to grey and black hat operators, as they often have a great understanding of white hat, and some of what they prescribe, if toned down, can be extremely useful. The grey and black hat's are on the cutting edge... and for this they earn my respect.
  56. purposeinc:
    LOL, I actually just got done S.E.O. ing a new site. I used an exact match domain name, used wordpress, and wrote the keywords in the site. That's it right?
  57. Shatteredtruth:
    The truth is you are right. And any so called SEO professional knows it. But to me this post is nothing more than self promoting high and mighty bullshit, which you should have left in your own head. What audience did this post serve...?? What good did it really do...? Stating the obvious... is Child's play. Your immature mentality will come back to bite you in the ass.....
  58. gray hat => manual link building black hat => link building bot
  59. This argument is great, and worth stirring the pot with. Hoping that other sites will link to you naturally makes little sense for a brick and mortar business that sells something like plumbing or storage. Your going to have to suck it up and manually submit links or find a way to get links in order to rank these people. Over time a great business will get good links (BBB, Metro Chamber) stuff like that. As long as you are building links in a logical progression to an ethical business (not some affiliate pharma site) then I don't think that your link building techniques really matter as long as they work and you are not hosing the search engines down with spam.
  60. Raphael Negrão:
    SEOmoz's Rand Fishkin just replied to your article. Great content, I guess, that deserves inclusion on your "Great Response/Discussion Posts" section.
    • Kris Roadruck:
      Done :-)
  61. Do you have some fucking ebook to sale me like everyone else about how to rank? I would read it!
  62. krasi:
    LMAO, what a funny post. This whole link baiting going on here, kinda proves your point wrong - the only value here, on this page, is your article (the content) . If it wasn't for your funny article, people wouldn't link, ping back and twit your post so much :)
  63. I actually agree with a lot of your comments on here. It's true that if you are whiter than white in terms of SEO, then the results aren't likely to materialise, unless you are very lucky with the kind of client you have - i.e one with a great unique hook that people will link to naturally. Many websites simply will not rank unless some at least grey building methods are used and if you can do that and get results then great! I liked that you say that you explain the risks & rewards as well - that bit is important.
  64. Great post! Shame i learnt this the hard (and very long) way.
  65. You made some good points, but saying that it is a joke completely is not true. Lets put an example, look all the link building you created with this post! Because you wrote something that sparks interest, so I think your post itself proves the opposite of what you are saying - even though you make great points - , because by being creative and writing interesting content you can retrieve many external links. YOU JUST DID using white hat strategy.
  66. Roei:
    Hi Kris, You don’t know me ( I not in your neighborhood..), My name is Roei and I'm from SEO NETO in Israel. First of all, Great post. As an SEO agent in Israel, that "treys" to be respectable and "white", I truly believe that is a lot in your words. You didn’t mention your methods a lot in your post, I was wandering, how do you promote your client's? What do think the gray hat method is?
  67. All over the internet you find only white hat SEO. This is good, this is best, play by the rules. I found lots of sites that rank on top positions with no white hat technique used. When you see something like that how can you make SEO being the good guy.
  68. All the SEO forums talk about White hat SEO, but i found lots of sites that rank TOP and do not play by the rules, so why be the good guy?
  69. Black Hat ftw!
  70. nice article and very true . I have had the same experience and right now i am a proud Greyhat seo with great results
  71. You are just writing what is going on for years with SERP. The official White SEO is actually nothing (unless you are Wikipedia). The real White SEO is actually Black SEO without getting caught ;-)
  72. Flaktrak:
    Why stop at GH? There are some blatantly obvious BH techniques that work. You can even hack running on pre 2.8 wordpress to get backlinks and rank for your chosen term in days at most 2 weeks. Dont believe me? Here is an example!!!! http://fitnessrecessionbusterprices.com/ have a look at the bottom of this blog. There is a wordpress exploit that allows someone to stuff their links into the blogs database. Guess what google doesn't give a shit about it. These sites are all ranking hard for their keywords. White hatters believe google is the allmighty. Guess what? google is only good as the humans that run the show and there are much smarter people out there than them!
  73. I agree with this article. On almost every SEO forum I am on, and I'm on quite a few, there are always a number of topics or discussions about white hat SEO, and I always say that half the idiots who are all replying, "I never do black hat SEO, that is bad, and you will get banned" don't realize that by posting nonsense in those forums with their obviously spammy signatures, they are doing black hat SEO. I believe that, for most practical purposes, the whole concept of SEO is founded upon black hat techniques. At least the ones that work...
    • This is something that was touched on in New Orleans and I think has been echo'd a lot above, the mix of "grey" and "white together where you give yourself that boost in the short term, in order to then focus on the inbound and content marketing angles in the long term, thats the unfortunate silver lining that I see in this debate. True White Hat is hard to sell to business owners when there are folks out there offering greyhat as a ramp up to gain early value and then move into a sustained content driven inbound and social marketing routine. I'm tempted to fully dive into all of these comments, but I have a lot of respect for people on both sides, and my own opinions in the middle. Rand, you know I hold your opinion in high regard, but I do think you live in a bubble in many ways. You have access to tools and an audience that takes years to build if successful at all, and for you, a financial nightmare with the damaged credit to show for it. Sure you made it out and you're flying, but you're the exception, and I fear that skews your view. The end component here, is that the far black and the far white isn't the real issue, it's that Google isn't penalizing, not now and not for the last nine years, much of the spammy stuff that grey hats do. This debate has to start with Google, as much as you are the Godfather of our specific search family with this community you've built, but their allowing and valuing of the "little sins" of grey hat will inevitably force the debate to rage on. Kris made a lot of really good points, and I know from reading your content how annoying that must be, BUT Kris' comments came from years of working at all this. You both have a lot to offer the community, but where I guess I roll my eyes, and sorry brother but I am rolling my eyes here, is the almost religious fervor with which you denounce folks for just doing what they've learned to, because Google and Bing have failed to teach them otherwise. At the end of the day, the fault lies with Google. As long as there is money to be made skirting the boundaries, folks are going to happily walk that line in the name of profit. I'm on your side, as you well know, but I'm not at all surprised by Kris' post, or the reactions it generated. That said, his post, link/hater bait that it was, is a fantastic example of inbound White Hat SEO! =)
  74. Regardless of what hat color your daily fashion get-up calls for, the essence of this piece lies in providing the client a thorough elucidation of all the aspects and tactics of the proposed project, from white to black, potentials and pitfalls. So that THE CLIENT can make a comprehensively educated and informed decision, after all who's paying?
  75. Although I read Rand's article about yours over at SEOmoz before reading yours, there are so so many web users out there that feel like you do and would agree with many point you raise. I've built up a little reputation as being Mr White Hat on a UK forums and have been known to get a bit of stick for it but the truth is that white hat always wins and whilst Google are tightening up their processes to seek out and identify more and more webspam and methodologies, eventually, the biggest reward for my clients and those others implementing white hat practices will be the greatest ever - complete domination in the SERP's (well, maybe that's a little too far but you get where I'm coming from). A great read though.
    • Kris Roadruck:
      If you believe google is going to defeat webspam you are very short sited and or nieve. In the whole history of microsoft they have never been able to secure an operating system from being pirated... why do you think that is? Google has some brilliant folks working for them. 200+ phd holders working in the webspam department. The problem is there are hundreds of thousands of webmasters out there working against them. Its to much brain power on the subject to be defeated.
  76. Profitseocom:
    What about content is king?
  77. Great ,great and great ! Hats off with you Kris.
  78. I don't always wear hats, but when I do, they're effective.
  79. Profitseocom:
    Hey what about "Don't be evil" thing?
  80. Man... It's just refreshing to read something with so much BS ... I love the fact that you even got the attention of SEMoz. I just mentioned you in my latest post Kris... respect my fellow Ninja ;)
    • I just realized...silly typo... ("It's just refreshing to read something without so much BS ) ;)
  81. innocent bystander:
    As an innocent bystander what I hear from this is that search engines are actually useless for searching, it's all spam... or it will be soon.
  82. Anonymous:
    White/grey/black - Should we be drawing lines? Marketing is about researching the market and utilizing methods to reach your audience and marketing goals. During market research you should be paying attention to you competitors and what marketing tasks are working for them and what is not. Study those that are working closely and incorporate them into your own marketing campaign. Each niche is unique not only to it's audience but the competition as well. Like the old saying goes "If you can't run with the big dogs..stay on the porch". Just my $0.02 worth!
  83. Kris , very interesting post and review. At Seo Conference 2009 (sofia, bulgaria) on one of questions for black hat seo one of the speakers at the conference said: Maybe these methods are now a little turned white, so from Google does not punish them :) But for me is more interesting how Rand Fishkin from Seomoz write that "We buy some links" and at the same time denies gray seo and quote this post :)
  84. I love the way you write!
  85. Wow. That is what I call a rant on SEO. As a new blogger, I was told early on that if you don't manually get out there and start link building, then you may as well give up. And without having the funding of National Geographic behind me to generate reams of perfect content, I would be America's biggest loser without some grey strategies. I will take away from this article the mere fact that there are no real rules. There are winners, and there are losers. And who wants to lose?
  86. Jay Bale:
    Who would of thought someone would ever say the truth! Nice work! Jay Bale SEO 11 years as a real SEO
  87. Anonymous:
    I had this same realization about six months ago. It was the best thing that ever happened to my career and bottom line. I can't believe I ever even called myself an SEO. Great article.
  88. Great article Kris, I'm one of those so-called whiteties that just want a good clean internet that you (and the user) can trust. I can say that's it fairly possible in the minor countries like my own (Denmark) but I know it's close to impossible in the major countries like e.g. UK and US where the competition at the SERP are much stronger. But why is it so - Does Google want it to be this way? Yeah you can send spam reports to Google, but hand on the heart - do they really listen? Do they want to? No not really. Google even support typosquatting - so they ain't that clean that they want us whities to be... I don’t thing Google live up to the responsibility that they have.
  89. Kris, I think you need to see someone about anger management... that being said, I love the post and your style. Could you possibly comment on the roll-out of Google Panda and how this has affected white, grey and black techniques? Has is made an impact or is it time to bin the white hat and move to the dark side?
  90. Reda Bendiar:
    Thanks, this "what is good and what is bad" question you've been through just confirms my thought. SEO is the poorman's findability. It comes down to this : your html cares about semantics and more importantly your site has interesting content. Really, most of SEO is plastic surgery and patching.
  91. I think a mix of white and grey hat is the best way to go around Google. its working for me :)
  92. Scott:
    All of these people preaching white hat do not have a small business owner needing results within 60 days. All of my clients are on a tight budget and investing in SEO is a make or break situation. They have services and products that you can only write so much about. Google doesn't care about search results, they care about $ and organic results do not make them $.
  93. I'd still avoid aggressive SEO tactics on "premium" brand blogs, or blogs that you start and want to maintain. For niche sites and affiliate sites however, white hat just doesn't cut it. What REALLY matters in my opinion is the content of the site itself. As long as you pride yourself on providing excellent content, who cares how you rank?
  94. Unless its natural, all link building is Blackhat! According to Google’s TOS, natural links are links others point back to your site without the need to pay for it, ask for it, comment for it or insert a link in your article to gain it. So, if all link building strategies are in effect manipulating search engine results, doesn’t it stand to reason that all link building is Blackhat and the majority of off-page SEO practiced by SEO firms is in effect, Blackhat?
  95. Great Post! I think you just said everything I've thought for the last two years. White hats kinda remind me of socialists sometimes, they always take the high road but wind up scamming people in the end.
  96. The scary thing is being a small business owner and deciding the best course of action. A girl posted earlier.......... "Client wants to win, that’s why they are hiring an SEO. They are fighting a war against competition and SEOs have their own battle to win. All is fair. Makes perfect sense. Google will always try to catch up – that’s their job. And we will always try to come up with ways to win our battle – that’s our job. And if we fall under Google’s sword, there will be another to take our place." .... I don't think she gets it. If we fall under Google's sword then our life is destroyed. An SEO expert can move on to the next project but the site that was sent to the sandbox or banned is ruined and the life of the owner is setback enormously with years of work evaporated. JCPenney will survive but my company certainly would not. I would be ruined and that is a risk I can't take. The internet is your playground but for many of us, we have one site and we live and die on it's success.
  97. Nic Windley:
    Its an old thread, however I stumbled across this and thought I'd comment. The whole white hat, black hat thing is a dilemma that we all face and not just in internet marketing. If only the world / life was fair and we could all play by the rules, it just isn't in any shape or form. Look at what some of the worlds "successful" people had to endure / do in order to get somewhere / traction. Its the same everywhere. Grab your nuts and jump.
  98. Love it... That's all I'm saying.. not admitting to anything ;)
  99. This. Is. Genius.
  100. David Greenberg:
    If anyone conducts any due diligence on your web presence, a white hat footprint is far more valuable than a site with a grey or blackhat one. I suppose the effect of this on your company's value depends on the percentage of business that comes from the web, as well as the sophistication of the buyer.