Downward Spiral of Questionable SEO Practices and Why White Hat SEO Struggles to Survive

 
 

Online industry can be difficult for even the toughest guys on the block. One moment you think everything is going fine for you, you are doing your own thing, SEO your website by the book, starting to see progress, expecting that first page and eventually top ranks in the next few months. So what happens, while your website is entering its 3rd year here comes a 4 months old website sitting at the top of Google, wait, what?

Yeah, I know, it is mighty frustrating and it surely doesn’t help you see your goal clearly. I mean here you have a guy that clearly paid for links, used some Black Hat SEO techniques and what does he get; a penalty? Nope, he gets to open up a bigger bank account and light a cigar. Not only is a website not worthy of being number one at the top, but you got yourself another competitor and lost a rank, which means less traffic and fewer customers, so what do we do in that situation? We go and smash our piggy bank and go buy some links Dorothy, that’s what!

Yeah, we find ourselves a nice link dealer and get ourselves, 100, no, 200 high PR backlinks and what do you know, next week we are the prom queen of the Google homecoming ball. Ah, now it’s ok, we can breathe without worrying about our rankings, that guy actually did us a favor, if he didn’t buy links we would have never gone that way and look at us now, top of the world. Until the next morning when you wake up to see that you actually don’t see, sandboxed baby, Dorothy is gone and your website moved from OZ.

This actually happens all the time. We are bound and forced to respect Google’s rules as they are the largest search engine, the big boy on the hood making the rules of the playground. But what happens when Google ignores a website that used Black Hat SEO techniques and got to the number one place using paid links? Google is making it worse for all of us. I mean looking at that website I might be tempted to do the same, if he can get away with it so can I, right? Well Google is selective and although 9 of 10 website will get penalized for such behavior there will be that 1 website that got away, that beautiful homecoming prom queen everyone talks about.

It sure is a bait for all of us to try that road, but it probably won’t work, we are not that lucky. But I don’t blame people for trying, I mean with all the websites that got away Google is actually asking us to try, they complain about the amount of SPAM they receive and Matt Cutts says that it’s hard to deal with all the SPAM on the net, well what can I say, I’m not the one who invited SPAM into my own playground, Google did.

Google is getting the amount of SPAM equal to the number of invitations they sent, so it’s their problem, not ours. But even though it is their problem we are the ones suffering. Going white hat can be a pain in the neck, it can take a long time to achieve your goals, but although it seems too hard at certain moments it is actually the only way to go, and if you know what you are doing or your SEO company, it can be fairly easy.

Content is king, you heard that plenty of times and you will hear it more and more as it is true. And since content is king everyone loves being seen with the king. It’s the rule of celebrities; one picture with a celebrity may make you famous. So if you have the king on your side people will link to you, saying hey, I know the king he is a good guy, go check this out and they point a link to the great content you created on your website.

The bottom line is that online industry is not all black and white; there is plenty of gray as well. It’s not fair that Google will let one website profit from paid links and punish the other, but this is a fact that we have to deal with. The only choice we have as webmasters is to play the White Hat SEO game and give our best to create valuable and quality content that people will want to link to. This is the only method that will get you links and links for years to come, paid links are there as long as you pay for them, but free links that no one asked for can stay in their place for a very long time.

white-black-door-wall

Zarko Zivkovic, SEO AuthorGuest SEO Blogger: Zarko Zivkovic
Blog: Practical SEO Blog
@ZarkoCompare

Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

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7 Responses to “Downward Spiral of Questionable SEO Practices and Why White Hat SEO Struggles to Survive”

  1. Unless its natural, all link building is Blackhat!

    I often read many posts where
    SEO experts frown upon Blackhat strategies but then openly promote link
    building. 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?

    Isn’t having an online business all about rankings, traffic and
    conversions in the first place and search engine optimization should
    essentially be a technical, and possibly not a moral or ethical issue?

     
  2. I think as far as Google goes, blackhat is somewhat associated by malicious activities such as injecting links, spamming comments, forums, hacking sites and also sneaky tactics such as cloaking, redirects and other devices designed to deceive users and game the system. Other SEO practices may not be in line with Google’s guidelines and can cause a penalty, yet are not classified as blackhat activities. So it’s all shades of grey. Rather than labeling things whitehat and blackhat it’s probably better to say within guidelines and outside guidelines. Most SEO activities today stretch the guidelines… but like I said in my article – it’s much of Google’s fault for allowing some people get away with stuff and forcing others to “keep up”.

     
  3. I think as far as Google goes, blackhat is somewhat associated by malicious activities such as injecting links, spamming comments, forums, hacking sites and also sneaky tactics such as cloaking, redirects and other devices designed to deceive users and game the system. Other SEO practices may not be in line with Google’s guidelines and can cause a penalty, yet are not classified as blackhat activities. So it’s all shades of grey. Rather than labeling things whitehat and blackhat it’s probably better to say within guidelines and outside guidelines. Most SEO activities today stretch the guidelines… but like I said in my article – it’s much of Google’s fault for allowing some people get away with stuff and forcing others to “keep up”.

     
    • Anonymous
  4. Placing a business in a local business directory is not natural but I wouldn’t class it as black hat or doing anything dodgy at all.

    I don’t buy into the “all link building strategies is black hat” idea. You could apply the same to “all website building” or “all copy writing” or any form of self promotion. All advertising and promotion work is designed to manipulate. 

    Google guidelines tend to lean towards the idea that bad is when your doing it mainly to manipulate the search engines when you should be doing it to manipulate your visitors ;-)

     
    • Tiggerito
  5. ..and how often is link building NOT manipulating search results? I will state it yet again;

    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. …..anything is else is manipulating search results. You can spin it anyway you like but all these self proclaimed “whitehat” SEOs are simply deluding clientele and themselves.

     
    • Samuel
  6. Check out my slides here: 
    http://cdn.dejanseo.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/dejan-seo-link-building.pdf

    Note the scale of shades of grey on the second slide? That’s what it is.

    If you observe the rest of the presentation material you will see this is all about an organised attack on the link factors within reasonable limits of impact on the web quality and its users (avoiding things such as forum/blog comment spam, link buying, link farms, blog networks, hacking etc).

    Business needs to survive, and for as long as Google lets one get away with it, others will be in an unfair position. Justice for all or none, that’s what the article says.

     
    • Dejan SEO
  7. So are you being blackhat by commenting on this post?

    Could you point me to where Google states what you said. I googled “natural links google” and also searched their TOS for the term “natural” and could not find anything that said all link building is evil? 

    I did find this in their webmaster tools help:

    “Keep in mind that our algorithms can distinguish natural links from unnatural links. Natural links to your site develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web when other sites find your content valuable and think it would be helpful for their visitors. Unnatural links to your site are placed there specifically to make your site look more popular to search engines. Some of these types of links (such as link schemes and doorway pages) are covered in our Webmaster Guidelines.Only natural links are useful for the indexing and ranking of your site.”This leaves a massive gap between natural and Unnatural links. Maybe we should call them contrived links ;-)It also states only natural links are used. So the contrived links are out. Does this mean any link in a directory, no matter how good and relevant that directory is has no link value if it is based on submitted requests? Maybe that’s a good idea. Any website that accepts requests for inclusion or allows self made content should not be allowed to pass link juice….maybe notIt’s good that Google tries to focus on the more natural links, but it’s not that easy in practice. Now to make some more natural comments somewhere else ;-)

     
    • Tiggerito

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