Black hat SEO is seen as the dirty, seedy side of search engine optimisation, which is why so few SEO companies talk about it. The black hat SEO practitioner represents the dark side of SEO, someone in the shadowy margins who doesn’t play by the rules.
Black hat SEO is everything white hat SEO isn’t because it’s all about doing bad things like manipulation, cheating and spoiling search results for everyone else. Most of what you read about search engine optimisation focuses on white hat because it’s ethical and everyone says it’s good.
Good it may be but there is one fundamental problem with white hat SEO – the unpalatable truth is it won’t work unless you have the resources to make it work. Anyone who says otherwise is in denial.
The reality for a small business is that doing white hat successfully requires more than just setting up a blog and posting some content – A Lot More.
Google rewards websites that have lots of links pointing at them and website owners who pay them for advertising. Google is a business much like any other. Wouldn’t you do more to help your most important and influential customers?
So in this sense is black hat SEO really that bad? Is a black hat SEO more of an anti-hero in all of this? Black hat can harm your website but it can also help too and if you don’t get caught, it can even give you an advantage over website owners who are struggling to make their content bring in the customers.
The Death Of ‘Content’ – A Content Strategy Is No Strategy Without GOOD CONTENT
The reason content has been the buzzword in SEO for the past couple of years is because content is used to generate links ethically which is what Google wants you to do.
The idea is you write a great peace of content in the form of a blog, video or some other media, post it online and loads of people will come to your website, link to your content (because it is the best thing they have ever read or seen) and you get loads of links.
Now I have to break it to you that the chances are nobody will see that content. Nobody will share that content or even trouble themselves to comment on that content – unless it’s good, in fact it has to be better than good. People are already overwhelmed with content and they often don’t have time to read yours unless it is good enough to earn their attention.
Mark Schaefer writes a very good post on content shock and what it means for businesses here http://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/01/06/content-shock/
So how as a small business owner distracted by the day to day running of a business can you create great content in enough volume to take on larger competitors with infinitely bigger pockets than you? The answer is you don’t stand a chance.
Not only do you have the big competitors barring the way to getting your content seen on the search engines, you also have businesses just like yours competing for the same 8-10 places on page one. You can bet that this year most of them will be investing in their content too.
The best you can hope for is reaching the top for long tail queries that might pull in 10 or 15 visitors a day. So I am going to go out on a limb and say white hat SEO simply doesn’t work for smaller businesses on tight budgets if they lack the time or resources to hire a good writer and a social media marketer.
The sad reality is, even if you can write good content and produce it until the cows come home, if nobody sees it, Google won’t reward your website with a page rank or a high position on search engine results pages (SERPS) for competitive keywords.
To get ahead of your competition on Google needs more than just the content. As a website owner you will need to manipulate that content and look at ways to build links to your website in sufficient volume for Google’s search engine to notice and then reward you with a page one placement for high competition keywords.
The only way to do that is to find shortcuts to manipulating the search results. Any technique used to do this, besides paid advertising, could be labelled ‘black hat’. In this respect doing any ‘SEO’ on and off the pages of your website is black hat in one form or another.
So Who Sets The SEO Rules Anyway?
Like it or not Google sees websites with lots of links – and I am talking tens of thousands of backlinks in competitive niches – as authorities on a particular subject, which is why it is incredibly difficult to compete with brands who employ teams of SEOs, content marketers and social media strategists.
If you don’t have those links you won’t rank because Google is not concerned with your organic keyword rankings. It is in Google’s interests to maintain the status quo. When it comes to the Internet, the rich will get richer while the poor get poorer as more and more money will need to be spent on advertising to maintain online visibility.
So when someone says black hat SEO is ‘unethical’ it is only unethical by the laws Google itself lays down. Unfortunately if you own a small online business, following Google’s rules to the letter means the odds are stacked against you if your strategy relies 100% on the ‘good’ stuff.