You have got to see the humor in the whole blackhat vs. whitehat (vs. grayhat) argument. Whether you label yourself BH or WH, I want to do a sanity check here and I want to present to you a new way of looking at this whole panorama of SEO if I may. I will try to be fair and balanced, but there’s no guarantee I’m going to be kind.
So, first off – a summation of the SEO “camps” that exist.
The Whitehat View
You believe in the Google TOS. You follow the Google TOS. You want others to obey the Google TOS as well. Good SEO is as simple as providing a good user experience, correctly building your site to include the proper formatting for tags, meta tags, and content. Plus, you are happy to exchange links and occasionally post a comment somewhere with a link in it. But even that might be a little on the edge. You play it safe and you simply cannot fathom anyone doing anything “pushy” in order to gain position in the SERPs. To you, anything off-color = illegal activity, immoral activity, or unethical activity.
The Blackhat View
You want to make money, so you are willing to do anything it takes to make money as far as SEO is concerned. The Google TOS, to you, is simply a starting point that allows you to see where you need to fly under the Google radar crossed with a smokescreen crossed with some counterintelligence-style misinformation with a bit of propaganda thrown in. (That is to say, you don’t take it at face value to say the least.) Google/the entire internet is one huge resource that allows you to connect consumers with products and you constantly engage in activities that best allow you to connect those two.
The Grayhat View
You don’t like being called names and don’t want to be the “bad guy”, so you say you’re grayhat. You want to be looked at as legitimate and a rule-follower but you have too much of an edge to say you’re strictly whitehat. You basically are a blackhat who has some whitehat sites – admit it. (Every BH also has some WH sites, by the way.)
OK so now that you get the gist of the three “hats”, here’s some points for everyone to consider:
- This is JUST SEO. This is not putting out forest fires. This is not rescuing baby pandas. This is not curing cancer. This is just SEO.
- Google is not God. Yeah, I know there is a church of Google but they are not God. Yes I also know that their search engine matters more than the others right now, but they aren’t God. I also am aware that they are bigger than the Beatles (who thought they were bigger than Jesus), but no – Google isn’t God. They aren’t even a law-enforcing or law-creating entity. Sure, they make their own rules – but “they” are a bunch of guys who thought up the rules they would like people to go by and that doesn’t mean anyone has to.
- Defying Google does not equal lawbreaking. This is a logical thought that follows the previous point. Really, I mean it. Get this. If you do something Google doesn’t like you doing or if you do something that sneaks past Google or if you do something that would make Google mad if they found out doesn’t mean you did something illegal. (Yet, I often see people discussing violation of Google policies as if it’s actually illegal.)
- People give Google too much assumed credit that they don’t deserve. You want a reality check? You probably need one if you view Google as the lord and you as the serf. Stop seeing Google as the one you need to conform to in every little matter. Stop feeling sorry for Google when someone does something smart that allows them to rank higher than the other sites. Why?? Google is a big web scraper. They take MY content off of MY site after they themselves willingly SEND their bots TO ME. Do you see my whole point? Google is always talked about as being abused by BHs. The real perspective people need to have is that Google invades servers with bots, spiders the content, scrapes the content, analyzes the content, and then what they do with it is their business. (Hypothetical situation: If they end up coming to my server that I pay for and end up indexing 10,000 autogenerated pages then that’s fine. If I end up ranking on the first page of their SERPs, why is anyone complaining? They came to me. They decided where to rank my site.)
Look, everyone can argue about it all day long but it comes down to the fact that they guys who build the best site or have the best content don’t always get ranked highest. Plenty of times, about.com will outrank actual good websites for a given topic. So will wikipedia. Plenty of times, the wikipedia site is NOT the best place to go when searching so something. And who put them there? Google. Why? Who knows. So please, everyone, stop talking like Google really does no evil. It’s a big scraper and just because they’re the biggest and have tons of money doesn’t mean they’re “right”.
So all you whitehats: realize that you’re defending the wrong entity. I’m not saying you should get on the side of the spammers. What I’m saying is that you need to have a more realistic view of things and you need to stop looking at Google as the one who needs to get their ends (to borrow a slightly ghetto term I like) … you need to get your ends.
Remember this, as well: many of the BH methods of today will be the WH methods of tomorrow. If you’ve seen the evolution of SEO over the years you know this is true. So to look at certain BH techniques and say “that is wrong!” could make you into a hypocrite one day. Don’t be so closed minded.
So, is blackhat SEO actually wrong? Is it evil? Is it wicked? Is it illegal and immoral? While I have seen some things done that I would say indeed are actually wrong, the vast majority of BH methods I have seen just don’t qualify as wrong. Sneaky? Sure. Clever? Yeah. Creative? All the time. But not “wrong”.
Maybe the real problem is that it just works better, and you don’t like that.