SEO black hats: Out of style

villain in black hat for SEO postTo me, amateur SEO is a bit like amateur dentistry. Or amateur hair styling, if you prefer. In all likelihood, nothing good is going to happen, and quite possibly something really bad will happen.

Every now and then I have a client or friend who experiments with some hot new SEO technique. Never once have I seen one of these DIY efforts succeed.

Most jailhouse SEO advice out there is outdated or dangerous or just plain stupid. And even if it were good advice, most non-pros wouldn’t know how to apply it.

Trying to gain an unnatural advantage in the search engine results pages (SERPs) is cheating. I have no moral issue with trying to cheat Google or Bing in search of a top ranking — if I could do it safely and successfully, I would. All day long. (Justification: The fix is in at the search engine casinos, always has been.)

Of course, there are multitudes of cheaters out there. The SEO business even separates itself into two gangs: the white hats and the black hats. (There are gray hats as well, but let’s save that one.)

I’d be lying if I wrote that black-hat SEO techniques don’t work. They do, sometimes — maybe even a lot of times. But long-term, black-hat is a losing proposition except for extremely skilled SEOs.

For those who are busted, Google promises “a negative adjustment of your site’s presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index.”

Google has buildings full of engineers and algorithm geeks whose careers depend on ferreting out the cheaters. Perhaps you heard something about Google’s pet Panda. Careful, it bites.

The spam cops’ fixes come with a lot of collateral damage and they don’t differentiate between web sites that cheat and those making honest mistakes. This I know from heartbreaking personal experience.

Short-term there’s an outside chance amateur SEOs get the result they want, but they’ll be nuked soon enough.

Look at it this way: Cheating the search engines is opportunity cost. The time spent trying to game Google or Bing could be spent giving readers the content they need — and sending the search engines the meta signals they want, in the way they want them.

That’s what straight-up on-page SEO is all about. You’re still trying to gain an advantage in the SERPs, but you’re not rubbing the spam cops’ noses in it.

Want to get ahead? Master the SEO basics, execute faithfully and carefully, and don’t set off any alarms.


  1. TheSeoPortal says:

    This post is really great. It is also a wake-up call for those who are still ignoring Internet marketing.