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Are you White Hat IRL? Or are you openly Black Hat?

Discussion in 'UnGagged Las Vegas' started by Zombiesmasher, Sep 21, 2017.

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Poll Dance: Black, white, grey... How do you label yourself?

  1. Mostly White Hat

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Openly Black Hat

    4 vote(s)
    17.4%
  3. Grey Hat - I do what I need to do

    12 vote(s)
    52.2%
  4. I'm a Mullet (WhiteHat in the front, BlackHat party in the Back)

    7 vote(s)
    30.4%
  5. Other? Comment below.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Zombiesmasher

    Zombiesmasher UnGagged forum moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    [​IMG] Here's an easy question: How do you define what is BlackHat and what is WhiteHat?

    We’ve all probably seen every variety of definitions or opinions, peppered with Guru buzzwords.

    “If you’re looking for loopholes in the Search Engines algorithm, you’re BlackHat.”
    “If you’re creating “good” content and hoping Google finds you, you’re WhiteHat.”
    “If you’re link building, you’re BlackHat.”
    “If you’re arranging links from charitable donations or scholarships… this is somehow acceptable. (just don’t call it GreyHat).”

    The general rule of thumb is that WhiteHat is a long term strategy that requires a lot of time and effort, whilst BlackHat simply breaks the system for short term gains. Accepted wisdom says that running any black hat methods risks being penalized and undoing any SERP gains or making your site invisible. In fact, many of the discouraged techniques, like keyword stuffing, scraping or link farms, have been obsolete for years. And yet, "expert" bloggers will still warn against them, describing scenarios as if sinister BlackHat tacticians are out there filling sites with hidden text, 10% keywords or reciprocal link circles.

    But what do the search engines have to say about it?

    [​IMG]

    In this Black and White view of online marketing, Google guidelines dismiss any SEO done with the express purpose of improving ranking or making money as being ‘the dark side of SEO’. Apparently, having relevant content is all that’s needed for the search engines to sort us out. And, obviously, you’d only want to competitively position your site if you were desperate or dishonest. So, for many WhiteHats, this translates to "Don’t look like you’re making an effort." After all, making money from internet traffic is Google’s purpose and how dare anyone else claim a piece of that pie.

    The biggest myth propagated by search engines is the idea of providing a level playing field and that they’re the best authority to unilaterally decide what their visitors see. Looks good on paper but, this is the internet. The reality is that Google doesn’t want you to do anything that improves your rank. They tell you to build a good site, make it friendly and, as if by magic, visitors will come. Your job is to build a user-friendly website with great content and structure and... nothing else. You're supposed to sit back and trust Google to sort out where every site should sit on the search engine. To do something specifically to rank better is seen as gaming the algorithm. But this broad definition means that even a lot of so-called WhiteHat methods fall foul of best practices. Offering reciprocal links, providing guest posts for a backlink or paying for charities or colleges to give link backs in exchange for sponsorships or donations - they might be seen as acceptable but they are very definitely not "WhiteHat".

    [​IMG]


    The thing is, WhiteHat isn’t always squeaky clean.
    Or even (as mentioned above) "good". WhiteHat Brands and established sites with strong domain authority have a huge, and unfair, advantage. They'll use this to manipulate search engine results for their newer ventures and domains all the time. Even more worrying is that Google appears to implicitly support these methods. Viperchill once posted a case study showing how just 16 companies dominate SERPs with their little family networks of brand sites that receive a huge amount of organic traffic worth millions.


    So, what’s better than WhiteHat? According to lots of big companies: if you're not being penalized, who cares?

    And that attitude can be frustrating when seeing BlackHats getting compared to hackers or scammers, and hearing words like "illegal" and "spam" used in the same breath. It falls just short of saying that BlackHatters drink the blood of newborns or sleep during the daylight hours. Well, the jury's still out on that one.

    The problem is that Google’s terms about what isn’t allowed are so broad, that the definition of Black Hat SEO is all over the place. Tactics included in this category can range from illegal stuff (like hacking) all the way down to really mild practices, like offering to write content in exchange for backlinks.

    There's a large grey area between the BlackHat and WhiteHat camps. While most agencies and search engines will have us believe it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) exist, this grey area is where most Digital Marketers spend a huge amount of time - whether they realize it or not. And why shouldn’t they? When the top 10 places are being reserved for the big authority brands that seem to be above the rules, the little guys have to start finding creative ways of getting their feet in the door.

    Blind faith is not a common trait for BlackHats. They're more analytical and cynical: if it doesn't get results, it doesn't work - lofty pronouncements from cult-like CEO's or big companies are not taken for granted. So it's difficult for us to trust that Search Engines have our best interests at heart.

    If you want to make money, it’s up to Google to ration the pie and cut you the slice they think you deserve - but you'd better not seem too hungry.

    [​IMG]


    The bottom line is - whether you’re WhiteHat or BlackHat - no one's immune to the big G's wrath. So stop worrying about the colour of your hat, strap on a crash helmet instead and go hit the SERPs.

    -ZM

    UnGagged Las Vegas 2017 Tickets Are Still Available, BHW members save 15% on the Early Bird Price! Use code: BHW
    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  2. ThopHayt

    ThopHayt Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    In my experience, unless you've got the advertising dollars (Adwords/BingAds), or marketing muscle (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/etc) it is VERY difficult launching a project and getting traffic quickly without at least SOME links. Keeping in mind that any linkbuilding, regardless of quality is considered blackhat by Google. In that respect I'd have to say that I've never done a whitehat project in my life, as I've always done at least some linkbuilding... However, from what I tend to see around the community many here, many would consider the linkbuilding I do on many of my projects "whitehat" which is a contradiction in itself. Personally I don't like the terms whitehat and blackhat. In my experience you're either taking risks or you're not, but the biggest risk is staying pat.

    -ThopHayt
     
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  3. Zombiesmasher

    Zombiesmasher UnGagged forum moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Beautifully said - It's a shame those labels get thrown around to vilify and shame (in part as a control mechanism by the Search engines), they get in the way of some very interesting conversations.
     
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  4. Someduder

    Someduder Newbie

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    Funny enough, Google is catching on, notice, they don't penalize as much as before, they have taken a " more loving " approach to sites, they realized that, penalizing client sites from what they deemed " bad seo " was costing Google more than the " bad seos "...

    Now it's make sure you have the content, the links, all the onpage i's and t's crossed / dotted, keyword siloing and relevancy can do more good than just hoping...

    Plus and here's the big one, make your site easy to use, user experience has to be the biggest signal, since it stretches many variables.

    I'm a ClearHat, as in, you don't see any shade I cast, just what I want you to see. :)
     
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  5. Asif A Khan LONDON

    Asif A Khan LONDON Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    I am Pink Hat

    [​IMG]



    Seriously though, screw Google and their definitions, there are no hats, there is what works and what doesn't.
     
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  6. davids355

    davids355 Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    I guess it depends who I am talking to :) But mostly I will admit a fair bit of black-hat tactics. Like @ThopHayt said its pretty {difficult|impossible} to get very far in ranking a website without any blackhat tactics unless you have a {humongous|endless} budget to play with.
     
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  7. Basic

    Basic Registered Member

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    Sadly I have become a 'mullet' mostly because I have been burnt a few times by good old Google.

    However I do still get a rush when I outsmart the top sites for their own keywords, maybe it doesn't last long but I have noticed that I don't get that heavily punished these days.
    I do run pure 'whitehat sites' as well as these have well aged domains.
     
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