BTW - Don't see any link farms, but do see some stuff that doesn't look great. I'm pulling them as an example. I read the post, and I think its very well written as I thought Kris' was. I just don't like the "hat dialog" that much, I mean apart from link bait i feel like its a discussion thats been played way to much. But I always like reading your work so i guess if someone is going to have this dialog, I am glad its you! Black vs white hat SEO has become a religious debate.
No opinions change, the only thing that occurs is the repeated back-and-forth of verbal blows that leaves both parties with a growing disdain of the other. This conversation will still happen in , and even then, it will be no more constructive. Ross - I like and respect you, but disagree and I think the evidence backs me up. Minds are changed, so are habits.
You yourself have influenced me with your writings and in our meetings.
SEO isn't as politicized or religious as we sometimes make it out to be, and I think there's still tons of opportunity for good works and smart opinions to have an impact. I do quite a few of those you know :- Appreciate the feedback, though I'll probably keep mixing it up with content styles; want to have something for everyone.
I liked the post. It is useful, and the title is very informative, so if there is something you are not interested in, you can jus dont read it. It was useful for me, because sometimes the difference between black and white is a little blurry and this post clarify it better for me I mean, sometimes you want to do something and are not certain about if it is allowed or not. It gave me some perspective and also real examples. If you read through the post carefully, you'll see it actually is about SEO strategy and content.
There are some innovative ideas in between the lines. Plus this does push me away from the ever present temptation to just throw a bunch of money at a spammy link campaign in a competitive industry.
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The blackhat vs. Cheering for blackhat or whitehat is not like cheering for your favorite basketball team.
It's deciding whether to uphold your personal integrity or walk all over it. The issue discussed here should not be whether blackhat or whitehat produces better, faster, more reliable, long-term results. It goes deeper than that. I believe we need to be looking at whitehat or blackhat in its accordance with the golden rule.
Joe called out one of the sites on this post for having manipulative link tendencies - since then, I have noticed another one here that I won't out in my own backlink expeditions with links that would immediately be determined to be paid for. It is unfortunate that these websites would be highlighted as "white" - I have no taste for the term or "black" - but I think using websites specifically in this post is misguided, as it would take meticulous analysis from you, Rand, to properly determine the pure "whiteness" of a link profile, which requires a depth that isn't worth the time required.
I understand that the paid link is bad SEO fathers' obligations , so forgive me if the comment is fillied with mistakes. I've read Kris hater bait and now your post.
I'm glad you gave examples, very good examples, to defend the WH position, as it is this fault of examples that generally I feel like a weak defence point by the WH SEO BH are always plenty because, well, as you demonstrated, we have just to make a search. I believe that, from what I've have wrote and said here and everywhere else in the past, that I'm all for Inbound Marketing tactics as the most effective SEO strategy to follow.
The real strength of White Hat is that if you execute all these tactics well, the total effect is way in excess of the sum of the parts. I was just writing my list of tools to help small business understand SEO a little better and give them some tools to check some things themselves. You yourself have influenced me with your writings and in our meetings. May I also make a recommendation? I think Rand and folks aiming toward the "make great stuff" tactic deserve a new word to describe ourselves. English Choose a language for shopping.
But I have to admit that there are tactics that are not totally white neither really black ones that I think that for certain cases someone could find interesting to use: the so called grey hat ones. I mean, grey is - IMHO - to know the system and to know how much you can stress the system without infringing it. That last verb infringe is important, because I do not want to go against the book as it is not convenient for the clients and not convenient for me either as consultant to have a collection of banished clients cannot be good on the long run.
Personally, when it comes to clients and mine are mostly small and medium businesses with limited resources as a consultant I tend to present always the things clear: SERPs and online marketing are an hugly beast that cannot be won with easy games. That is the first real problem: to educate and make really understand that premise.
And it is something very very hard to make understand, especially when the client does not have any technological dpt. Here is where the WH SEOs tends to fail, that is the greatest problem and what makes BH such a winner on the short as they say: wanna be first, you'll be first. For that reason, I've say no to many clients, because they did not want to listen or because I was not able to make understand the value of patience and of larger perspectives when it comes to SEO.
As for a tv series, a website has to find its audience. That is why - I repeat - first of all an SEO has to be able to demonstrate the value of the "thinking out of the box" way. But, returning to my question: what about grey? Because life has teached me that nothing is just black or white.
Ps: the Oyster example is wonderful, but they - surely without knowing - they are going against the guidelines with their not english versions of the site: automatic translation is against the book and reason for penalization according to Google ask Martin MacDonald, who suffered it even though he was using auto translation for a very logical and reasonable reason in its seoforums. Hey Rand I wonder though Really guys?
Are we still claiming that nofollow links are totally worthless? I'm a personal injury lawyer. I'm thus not so sure about the value of pure white-hat SEO, at least in my field. At a bare minimum, you need a lot of gray hat to rank well for the competitive keywords, and there are plenty of law firm sites that boost themselves by a running several separate domains that look like lawsuit news sites but really are just rewritten content with the editorial anchor text on keywords pointing to the firm's website or b running a dozen or more domains with virtually identical content.
I'm keeping my fingers cross that, some day, Google with tweak things a bit to clean up some of that crap. Rand — some time ago I saw your personal blog and thought the picture of you in the middle of drinking wine was pretentious, but having just seen that your wife's blog has an almost identical photo of her, suddenly it's now cute and personable that you both do it. Context is everything. Plus, it's often the case that all the white hat, inbound marketing stuff you do for SEO has secondary and direct traffic benefits of its own, building an additional strength that none of the competition's investing in.
Rand, do you really feel that the average consumer understands white hat vs gray vs black hat SEO and then is able to give brand equity accordingly?! That surprises me.. True, but the effect is sadly limited. My posts have been linked to from BoingBoing, io9, dealbook.
I'm even on the blog roll of a prominent tort reformer! The result?
I can catch some long-tail search terms, and Google indexes me rapidly, but I didn't even crack the top 50 results for any of the major keywords for me until I started doing stuff that's considered white hat — Yahoo, JoeAnt, etc, upper-level directories — but which strikes me as straight-up link-buying. That gets me in the top 50, but first page is still loaded with black hat. Which gives me two options: 1 wait for Google to fix it or 2 go black hat.
Rand - 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.