Today I want to make (and prove) a simple statement - that white hat SEO will beat black hat SEO.
I’m going to focus on two things: -
- Why black hat SEO mustn’t work
- Why black hat SEO doesn’t work
So, no big intros today… let’s dive straight in!
Black Hat SEO Doesn’t Care About How Good You Actually Are
The initial idea behind google had an innocence and (dare I say it) a beauty.
The problem with the way search engines worked prior to the introduction of pagerank and the citational model of link popularity, was that they had a fundamental flaw; they relied on using what people were saying about themselves to rank their web pages – he who shouts the loudest will rank the highest.
Ignoring total spam for a moment (I’ll come onto it in a minute), let’s say we have two hairdressers – Bob and Phil.
Bob is better than Phil. In fact he’s much better than Phil.
But Phil is not about to admit that on his website.
According to his website, he (Phil) is the best damn barber in town. He’s also learned a bit about on page SEO and has used lots of phrase variations in his content, correctly set up all his titles etc.
Bob on the other hand has spent his time learning to properly cut hair and knows nothing about SEO.
If on page factors are used to rank the page, Phil will win – he’ll get all the customers and everyone in town will be walking about with bad haircuts.
As Bob is actually the best, he gets lots of natural editorial links from other local businesses and so, with link popularity working as it should, he rises to the top. The townsfolk no longer look like members of Flock Of Seagulls.
Phil learns about black hat link building, pays $149 per month and blasts his link everywhere.
Once again, he’s up at number 1 and those frustrated townsfolk are back to being scalped.
Now, fortunately, Phil won’t stay there for long (as I will show).
A quick logic question before I continue…
If you are walking down a high street and there are two hairdressers (each with one stylist) next to each other, which one would you go into for a haircut?
They are: -
- The only 2 hairdressers in town
- Identically priced
- Both claim to be the best
- You have no access to reviews or third party opinions
If you don’t get it… the answer will be at the end of this article!
Disinformation Is Dangerous
So, in my example above (unless one of the barbers is Sweeney Todd) the worst thing that is going to happen is someone is going to leave with a bad haircut.
But how about if the site is giving medical advice?
I am sure that would be a lucrative niche to be in. Lots of possibilities for upsale there!
I am also sure I could make an authoritative looking site and write up some pretty convincing sounding content that would make me seem, to anyone visiting the site, an expert.
Of course I am not an expert and the advice could well be dangerous.
According to a lot of the (dis)information on black hat SEO you will read online, I could then pay $150-$200 per month, have some software blast out links for me and sit back as my site rose up the rankings; laughing my way to the bank as my visitors coughed and spluttered their way through my articles.
Granted this is an extreme example, but it shows why google cannot allow their rankings to be so easily manipulated.
It’s So Easy To Spot
I am currently sitting in starbucks.
Open Site Explorer tells me that starbucks.co.uk has a total of 53,456 links from 438 root domains.
For now we will say that the important figure there is the 438 different domains that are linking to the starbucks site.
Now starbucks is a huge, massive, worldwide company with over 600 branches in the UK and Ireland. Yet they only have links from 438 domains!
So, let’s say you use an automated tool to build 2,000 links to your 10 page affiliate site about red kettles from 1,000 domains over a 4 week period.
Don’t you think this sticks out a bit!
And let’s just recap what google says about link building (full article here).
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:
- Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
- Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
- Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
- Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
It’s going to get flagged algorithmically (by Penguin), but if for some miraculous reason all those links slip through the net, you can bet your bottom dollar that if you are in a niche that is in any way competitive you will soon be getting a manual penalty slapped on your site.
And it will be very difficult to recover from that.
You Risk Losing Your Entire Business Overnight
If you are following a ‘burn and churn’ model of creating throwaway sites that is one thing, but if you have (or are creating) a business for the long term, then practicing black hat SEO is quite simply dicing with death.
Just go and search in google and you will read horror story after horror story about businesses who lost their search traffic literally overnight.
Believe me that google tap can turn off in an instant.
And remember, just because you might be getting away with something today, it doesn’t mean you will tomorrow. Google is getting better and better at detecting spam and manipulation and the loopholes are closing.
Can you afford to take that risk?
The Domino Effect
Tiered link building is one of the current big things in black hat SEO.
Create a 3/4 level pyramid with lots of lower quality links at the bottom tier, working up to (in theory) providing some strong links to your money site at the top. You’re basically building up your own authority.
Well, it ain’t going to work I’m afraid.
Google is looking more and more ‘up stream’ when detecting manipulative link building and once one domino falls…
All The Loopholes Get Closed Eventually
For the last few years there has been a major update in the Spring which has shaken things up in the SEO world and closed more and more loopholes (Panda, Penguin, Penguin 2.0 etc)
You can bet that this year will see another big change and lots of angry webmasters who lose their rankings, despite the fact that they have been well warned.
You’re Leaving A Big Footprint (Guilt By Association)
A lot of link building programs use private blog networks. There are those who will tell you these ‘leave no footprints’ and cannot be detected.
This is a load of crap.
Let’s say you have been lucky enough to get away with things up until now. Well, how about when another site using the same network as you loses their rankings?
They do the only thing they can and disavow all those bad links.
What does this give google? That’s right, a big list of sites that have been used to manipulate rankings. A list which contains sites that are also linking to you.
Bye bye traffic.
You Just Don’t Need All Those Links
It’s still a common misconception that link building is a numbers game. It really isn’t.
What you need are high quality, topically related, authority building links.
You can rank a site with ten powerful links. If fact, you could probably rank some sites with one mega link.
You’re Annoying People
I wrote yesterday about how to be successful in internet marketing you have to be nice. Well, black hat SEO is really annoying.
I am fed up reading spam comments about how I have ‘a magnificent beat’ or am a ‘truly wonderful webmaster’ with ‘an amazing weblog on this topic’.
Spam is annoying. Don’t be annoying. It’s not cool.
What’s The Point In Traffic That Doesn’t Convert?
The majority of this article has focused on black hat link building, but what about the other side of things?
Let’s say that your black hat SEO is working (in the very) short term and is actually bringing in the traffic.
Well, if your site is low quality that traffic is unlikely to convert anyway. It’s like opening a pound shop in the middle of a high quality arcade.
And if your site is high quality….
Then you really don’t need to indulge in black hat SEO!
Why White Hat SEO Wins
So, why does white hat SEO win?
White hat SEO focuses on creating quality content, building real relationships and promoting your content in your niche.
Here are some of the many advantages:-
- Users will be more likely to repeat visit/bookmark/refer your content to others
- Users will be more likely to share your content on social networks
- Recommendations/referrals from previous customers convert better than any other form of traffic
- You will develop a reputation as a genuine authority
- Your quality content will convert
- You will attract natural, authority building, editorial links
- You won’t have to worry about future google updates taking away your traffic
- Traffic gains will be long term
SEO is not spam and white hat SEO will build long term, sustained traffic increases that will grow your traffic and business.
It’s not rocket science, it’s not black magic, it’s marketing and my tutorials will show you how it’s done (sign up below).
And in answer to my logic question…
You would go with the hairdresser who has the worst haircut. Why…? Because the hairdressers cut each others hair, so the one with the good haircut is the bad stylist! Did you get it?