On Black Hat SEO
So, the last few days have been interesting to say the least. I spoke in London at Distilled’s Link Building conference specifically on the issue of social media link building. It stirred up quite a bit of controversy after blog posters decided to give their own spin to what my talk was about. While I am not going to sit here and pretend that I did not discuss a wide range of SEO techniques, I want to make something clear. If you think that we use black hat techniques to promote client sites or our own properties, you are a damn fool. Hell, we run a link spam prevention service for free that blocks hundreds of thousands of spam links per day. We have a free CAPTCHA service that blocks thousands more. Do you think we came up with effective spam prevention tools like that by pretending that black hat doesn’t exist?
To be honest, I really don’t care if other people use black hat strategies. We beat them out regularly for very competitive terms. But there is a very dangerous trend in the SEO space where people think that Black Hat SEO = Paid Links. I am not saying that the giant swath of what we call Black Hat may not include tactics such as this, but SEO’s are ill prepared when they are unaware of the incredibly creative, malevolent, and frankly impressive techniques which are regularly employed on behalf of their competitors. It is like comparing a cold to cancer. Yes, they are both diseases, but if you spend your life only preparing for the sniffles, you are in for a rocky ride.
Let me give you a clear example. If I were the SEO for a web security firm, I would spend all day learning the black hat link building techniques that take advantage of HTML injection, XSS (cross site scripting), Parasitic Hosting, and Bot-Based link spam and use them to build lists of websites that have been exploited using these techniques via footprints in Google. I would then contact each and every one of those sites with solutions to fix their problems and ask for them if they would be willing to link back with something that says “this site is protected by…”. If you aren’t aware of the techniques, then this type of solution wouldn’t be available to you.
I can’t control how bloggers spin my presentations, but you can hear it from me now. Learn the dark arts, so you can defeat them, not so you can employ them.