Blackhat SEO Principles
Like everything in life, there is black and white when it comes to SEO tactics, strategy and principles. Whitehat principles are those which are absolutely guaranteed to not cause problems and be within complete compliance both to the letter of the terms of agreements of the search engines and to the ethical intentions of those agreements. On the opposite side of the spectrum, are blackhat SEO principles and techniques.
Blackhat SEO gets a lot of attention because it can produce very dramatic results in short time frames – and that peaks people’s interest. In fact it is that ‘quick result’ that frequently causes people to toss their hat into the blackhat arena and give it a whirl. The problem is, that while it might produce (the key word there is *might*) great short-term results, it is virtually guaranteed to cause you long-term problems. The end result of employing blackhat SEO principles is that your site may get penalized in various different ways, from rank (sending your site to the back of the line, so to speak), to temporarily de-indexing your site (so that it is no longer visible in the search results at all), to, on the extreme side, completely and permanently blacklisting your entire domain. For that very reason, no reputable SEO company would condone or engage in Blackhat SEO principles – the reward is simply not worth the risk. You have likely spent months or even years building up your site and site reputation, you can’t afford to jeopardize your entire business for a possible short-term fix to what is likely a long-term problem.
So what exactly is a blackhat technique anyway? This is a relatively simplistic example, but serves to illustrate the point. Craigslist is a hugely popular site for business classifieds, job postings and other listings. Many people have created various blackhat solutions to try and tap into the traffic that comes from Craigslist. There are many restrictions on types of jobs that can be posted and also on how you can post them (you cannot make the same post in multiple cities, for example). Well a blackhat solution uses computer software to “cheat” the system. The software would, for example, add a bunch of different bogus text to the end of each post and then generate thousands of duplicate postings but each containing some unique content (useless content) so that it was seen as being “unique” by the Craigslist software. Then they would use an automated posting software that would again “cheat” the system by changing its IP address and posting frequency and then posting those thousands of posts (really the same post) in various cities all across the nation. This is just one example of what would be considered to be a blackhat solution. It clearly and directly violates the Craigslist procedures, policies and terms of agreement and artificially manipulates the system via various hacks or cheats. There are always clever programmers looking for ways to cheat the system and there is no shortage of blackhat solutions out there. They may work briefly, but usually by the time they are being sold they are already largely ineffective and just ripping you off.
Applying blackhat techniques to Craigslist is one thing, but applying them to SEO principles for your business website is totally different. Why? Because of the risk versus reward aspects and ramifications of being caught! If you were to employ the Craigslist hack above, you would likely get your accounts banned and removed from Craigslist in a matter of hours. In fact, the authors of such programs will flat out tell you that that is very likely – but they don’t care. They simply create new accounts and continue their scheming. The worst case scenario is that Craigslist becomes so good at detecting them that their efforts go in vain and they get little if any traffic benefits and decide to give up. However, the ramifications of blackhat SEO strategies are far more severe because you are taking your entire online “life” into your own hands and will likely pay very dearly when you are caught.
Both whitehat and blackhat strategies have been clearly defined, but, as in life in general, rarely are things just “black and white”, but much more frequently we live in a world of “grey”. This is true with SEO strategies as well. There are some strategies that walk a very tight line between black and white and are designed to “hover” and operate in that grey area. As any good attorney will tell you, even the law is not black and white – there are various shades of grey in the details. The rules of SEO operate the same way. So how do ethical and profitable SEO businesses do the dance between black and grey?
There are some unwritten rules about how to use greyhat technologies and approaches that allow for quicker and more successful SEO results but also in a manner which protects the client should those greyhat techniques come too close to flirting with being blackhat. Typically this is done by designing a web or network of “feeder” sites which direct traffic onto your money site. Now a feeder site is just that, it “feeds” the money site with traffic. You must be 100% whitehat with everything you do on your money site so that you do not jeopardize your business in anyway. However, there are intelligent was of taking a bit more risk to drive more traffic on some of your feeder sites where the “risk” is merely loosing that particular site. That might cause a decrease in traffic to your money site, but it is not going to jeopardize your entire business by getting that site shutdown.
In summary, blackhat SEO principles and techniques may seem tantalizing in their sales pitch, but don’t be drawn in to their fool’s gold solution. You may indeed get good results (temporarily) from blackhat solutions – but you may also find yourself looking for a new website and business because you’ve been completely shutdown. Remember that no reputable SEO firm will ever employ blackhat SEO principles to your SEO efforts. You, as the client, need to make sure and have this black versus white versus grey discussion with any potential SEO expert you consider engaging.