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Come To The Dark Side, Luke.
Posted 07 December 2004 - 11:38 AM
Put another way, if a person wants to compete for the top spot for a highly competitive keyword, should they resign themselves to having to use methods frowned on by the engines?
I'm starting with the assumption that the answer is yes: to compete for highly competitive top spots, you're going to have to stray from the path at least a little. Am I right, though? Have any of you been able to compete successfully in these arenas without resorting to such tactics?
Put personal feeling aside. I know what I want to be true, but I what I really want to know is what is true. So give some actual examples and not just theory. Theory is great, but everybody's got one. Surely someone has some real-life examples. And keep the personal attacks and bitterness out of it. I know that there are very strong feelings on both sides. Use this opportunity to prove your point without tearing someone down.
This isn't a discussion on ethics, since we've already discussed that at length. We're discussing what works and what doesn't, regardless of whether it's "ethical" or not.
Posted 07 December 2004 - 11:49 AM
Posted 07 December 2004 - 01:53 PM
Do you call a site garnering 10's of thousands of targeted backlinks black hat? Some would see that and immediately reach the conclusion that shady techniques were being used, but the links may have been obtained completely legitimately.
I don't automatically assume that massive backlinks indicates anything. It could simply be someone worked hard for them.
Even on most competitive phrases, massive links alone with a little bit of keyworded anchor text, will drive you to the top of Google. Throw in a little on-page optimization and you're there in the rest of the engines too.
Here's the difference in performance, speaking in very general terms, where the various hat colors apply to heavily competitive search terms. All just my own opinion of course.
Prudent use of Black Hat methods will get you to a decent ranking position more quickly. Hands down. It won't convert traffic once it gets there, but it will get it there. Anyone employing that approach needs to also have a Plan B and Plan C already in the process at all times though, because sooner or later their site's tactics will get discovered and the tap will be shut off totally.
White Hat takes more work up front and a longer time to deliver drastic results for those highly competitive phrases. But it will also weather storm after storm without taking a huge drop with each algorithm tweak like formula approaches will. It is a plan that provides much more consistent, long-term results.
These sites also tend to convert better, simply because the webmasters tend to be more customer focused instead of search engine focused, but that's not necessarily a hard and fast rule.
So can either approachs achieve the same search engine results using either method?
If you're willing to pay the price, Yes.
When I was first playing at errmm.... learning the SEO game I picked the most competitive market and keyword phrases there were and still are. I did that because I wanted to test different principles and learn something, but wasn't really concerned with building a long term business in that particular market. So I could use Black hat, White hat and every color inbetween for my tests.
I've since either retired (the black hat tests) or sold (the white hat tests) all of those sites. But all of the sites ended up having similar results at one time or another, just on a different timeline. Most of the ones I sold still rank very well to this day even though I've had nothing to do with them for years at this point.
White hat takes more work and more time on the front end. And an immense amount of patience. Black hat takes more work on the back end because you know going in that you'll have to start all over from scratch again eventually.
Posted 07 December 2004 - 05:34 PM
No, you simply pay the engines
Every single SE, including Google, offers the top spot or two to advertisers. So just pay.
I don't get the phrase "compete". Why Compete? If there is X ammount of traffic available on a topic, only X/Y is going to be generated by teh top Z terms. If you look at this article @ SEW, the graph displays the distribution of terms. The "tail" is where very, very few sites do well, and where most conversions come from.
So, why "compete for competetive phrases" when a lot of these tail terms can be had easier, and convert better?
Coming back full circle, very few searches, even competetive ones, in legitimate business areas have a top 10 dominated by Black hats. they want you to think they are, but the truth is simply that most searches are not.
And in the long term, White Hat is better for a lot of reasons. It just depends upon how long a site is willing to wait for the natural effects to kick in, link Link Pop, PageRank etc. In the even longer term, the best SE traffic, and the best guarantee of SE traffic is brand building. And Black Hat strategies tend not to help a brand build momentum.
IMHO, Jill's article on this a ways back was 100% right: Black hat == short term startegy: here today, gone tomorrow. White Hat == long term business and brand building strategy in which short term traffic is less a concern than business goals.
Posted 07 December 2004 - 06:14 PM
Are they all spammy? I betcha they're not!
Look at the pages showing up for search engine optimization, for instance. Last I checked, they don't appear to be using any hugely overt black hat techniques. Sure, there's some iffy linking going on, but apparently that's all fine and dandy with the engines.
Posted 08 December 2004 - 09:28 AM
Posted 08 December 2004 - 09:56 AM
Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:15 AM
For example, let's say I was trying to decide whether to build a site for either "mesothelioma" or "jobs." I could evaluate the choice this way:
Number of Clicks per Month X Value per Click = Total Monthly Value
"jobs": 500,000 X $0.10 = $50,000
"mesothelioma": 10,000 X $30.00 = $300,000
(Value per Click would obviously vary from site to site depending on how good you were at converting that traffic.)
These are just very rough (maybe not even very accurate) estimates, but if we could find keywords that have a very high multiple, those, theoretically, would be keywords with the most competition among ranking artists.
I'm basing that theory on the belief that there are enough people who do this professionally now that those very profitable keywords get a lot of attention. If that's not true, looking at the top rankings for those terms might not tell us anything at all about which methods are more effective.
Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:22 AM
If you had a choice of any type of site to optimize for, why choose the one that's the most competitive, even if it does bring a big bang for the buck? Seems like a whole lot of work to me, and I'm lazy!
Plus, I don't really think you can say what sort of thing gives the best bang for the buck. It all depends on what you do.
For instance, I have a new client who one sale can equal anywhere from $300,000 - $1 Million or more. It doesn't make his keyword phrases necessarily competitive, however. But of course the more qualified targeted traffic he gets to his site, the more people who will presumably contact him for more info, and the more opportunity he'll get to make a huge sale.
To me, I'd much rather optimize that type of site than one for "jobs" or whatever. And you can bet if I did the one for jobs, I wouldn't be shooting for the word "jobs" but the thousands of related phrases that would actually sell what the site offered.
Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:25 AM
Has the most bang for the buck in what way?
Speaking very generally, the more generic the keyword phrase the lower it's conversion ratio will be. As the phrase gets more generic the conversion ratio decreases exponentially in my experience.
It's difficult to explain in general terms but let's give it a shot just for fun.
Let's say you ran a site for several hotel properties in San Antonio, TX. Getting the #1 ranking for a very generic phrase like "hotels" --no matter what method you used-- would be extremely difficult. But if you managed to do it you would likely get a lot of traffic simply based upon the power of that, in conjunction with other phrases that include the word hotels.
But a miniscule percentage of that traffic would convert. People searching for "hotels in Houston" or "hotels in Dallas" would quickly become disinterested and try again because your site is not providing what they're looking for.
On the other hand, if you were #1 for the phrase "hotels in San Antonio" but not even in the top 1,000 for "hotels" your conversion to sale ratio would be much higher, even though your actual traffic would be a small percentage of the above. Because you're delivering exactly what people are searching for.
It's a slippery slope. Especially when you consider the fact that if you used Black hat methods to get to #1 on "hotels" and got caught it would kill your ranking position (and traffic) for all other phrases. You don't just lose that phrase, you lose everything.
To me, the second option would bring the most bang for the buck where it really counts. How many sales and how much profit, combined with how much effort is required.
Risk vs Reward. It's really as simple as that in my mind. However it is very, very tough to generalize when discussing it.
Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:53 AM
No doubt. I'll (almost) always take the path of least resistance!
The question, though, was whether it is possible to be competitive in those highly competitive areas without resorting to tactics that search engines don't approve of. I'm sure some people don't have a choice for which words to optimize for; they work for a company that's requiring them to rank highly for all their keywords, even the general ones. So while the question of whether you would want to compete is certainly important, I want to remove that factor from the equation.
Bang for the buck came up only because, theoretically, it would allow us to see if "black hats" were able to crowd out other sites not using any of those tactics -- thus indicating that it wasn't possible to compete head-to-head where there was a concerted effort by several people not using approved methods.
Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:58 AM
It may not be possible as a short term jolt, however.
Posted 08 December 2004 - 11:02 AM
I started watching which sites were in the top 10 each day for the phrase online casino at Google and documented the following: # pages to the site; incoming links; PR; keyword phrase in title (yes, no or partial) and KW phrase in url (Yes, no or partial). I can't find any particular correlation - and to boot, the sites in the top 10 change daily! maybe 8/10 stay there but shuffle a bit.
What did I learn from this? Absolutely nothing except that each one of those sites appears to have at least a minimum # of incoming links.
So your thoughts about online gambling aside, I think this is a pretty competitive industry in which to obtain rankings. Let's look at some of those sites ;-)
Posted 08 December 2004 - 11:07 AM
Posted 08 December 2004 - 04:37 PM
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