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White Hat/black Hat Seo
Posted 14 December 2004 - 12:35 PM
Who is better? White hat or black hat? Better person, better SEO, better money maker? Who's to say? That's not what it's about.
Black hats are big time spammers- in fields like affiliate marketing, viagra... it's up to the engines to sort out what's acceptable and what's not.
Jill's wind up- most sites don't need black hat techniques...
More to come...
Posted 14 December 2004 - 12:42 PM
Alan questioned whether or not to do this session at all. He doesn't use "hat" analogies and doesn't really like the words.
He showed a chart illustrating the difference between white hat and black hat seo practices.
Basically, black hats hide things, they don't design for humans, pages and links are designed for bots, not people.
White hat techiques focus on content and people-oriented improvements to the site.
White and black hats are equally capable of doing a bad job.
Black hats tend to see engines as "the enemy"; SEO a "war to be won". White hats tend to view engines as friendly.
White hats tend to work with the primary or main domain, black hats tend to work with disposable domains.
White hat- relevance of the site is typically improved. Black hat focuses on making a site appear more relevant to search engines than it actually is.
White and black hat techniques are both capable of returning profitable results.
Black hats tend to focus on short term, white hats long term although not always the case.
The terminology of ethical is used a lot... identify the stakeholders in the process. The ethical solution is the one that brings about the best solutions for all stakeholders, including the searcher, webmaster, and engine.
Some black hat techniques should be illegal; deceptive advertising, advertising masquerading as real results.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 12:46 PM
He's the grey hat, but he has a black belt. Showing slides of humorous different hats- see the slides later- they are a hoot.
It's not about hats, about the goals, and the methods.
It's war out there, he says. Marketing Warfare is a book he recommends. There are many wars to fight and many ways to win.
How much risk do you take in your other business practices? Do you play by the rules in every simgle thing you do? He thinks Enron would have turned down black hat seo, but their accounting procedures were anything but ethical.
May the Force be with you.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 12:53 PM
Todd, there are few black hats that are pure black hat- most use a spectrum of techniques.
Logfile spamming... people running bots on your logs because they are open. Looking to get links (via webalizer particularly)- he recommends protecting your logs to prevent this.
Autogenerated gibberish... he shows us a sample from his own generator. Gibberish is hidden by "real" pages or cloaking (IP-based content delivery).
Flash sites- black hat becomes white hat for fully graphical sites. Cloaked to be able to present content to the spider.
If you are going to do cloaking, you have to use IP-based delivery or else it will get caught.
Fastest way to bust competitor's cloaking is to look at the search engine's cache. Then you can do the white hat thing and report 'em.
The search engines cloak to based on geographic location.
Buying sites, PR and links- has moved from black hat to the norm. Buying expired domains was useful for PR. Buying off-topic links on run of site because they have a good PR. These are no longer really black.
Be aware of what your competitors are doing. You may have to use black hat techniques in order to compete in that space. Your techniques are relative to the search space.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 01:04 PM
Been in the business since 1996, this debate has gone on all along. He tries to stay out of the debate. Not enough honesty in our business about what we do.
SEM- search engine manipulation.
Greg is proud to be a manipulator. Everyone paid to come here to learn to manipulate. There are more than 10 relevant sites for most SERP's- the ones in the top 10 have a better grasp of SEO.
He doesn't make products more relevant, he convinces search engines that they are more relevant.
Greg doesn't just do black hat stuff. His interpretation of white hat is content manipulation. It's keyword manipulation. You wouldn't speak the way SEO copy reads.
You can be in line with the engine's TOS and still have crappy pages, as many do to redirect traffic and get Google Adsense.
Majority of stuff that happens is grey. Not totally in line with the TOS, but used to overcome specific obstacles, especially in corporate America. Dozens of roadblocks- tech departments, marketing, designers. These sites need to be found but are not friendly.
Black -full algrithmic assault. Finding and exploiting all all possible weakness and holes.
Dispel the myth- is agressive search manipulation bad? NO- he shows a page of brand name logos that have been caught spamming. But they are still in the search engines, because they are known brands.
Searchers don't view source code. as long as the page is relevant, they don't care.
White hats use fear marketing because they don't want to work in that arena. He uses IP detection on a regular basis. They've been reviewed by SE engineers and passed. Reality is that a ton of companies using "evil" techniques are known and implicitly approved.
Evil is the SEO companies that don't tell their clients what they are doing. Some companies don't disclose everything they are doing or the risks. They must know what they are getting into.
Give them plans that show different levels of risk tolerance. Up to the clients to determine the path they want to employ. He thinks it is truly unethical to place a client at risk without making them aware,
Work with methods appropriate to the space you are in.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 01:12 PM
Alan- good and evil is not a helpful distinction. Comparing business to war is not an appropriate analogy. Business can have lots of winners- in war one side must lose. That's where the industry can take a hit from the tactics being used. Some things that may have been appropriate a few years about are not so appropriate now. The industry reputation is taking a hit as it comes into the main stream.
Question: Why is affiliate marketing considered black hat? The questioner doesn't think so.
Jill: It's typically done with highly competitive sites- tons of sites competing for the same keyword phrases. She won't do highly competitive sites. Not every affiliate program is that highly competitive.
Greg: PPC- pills, porn, casinos. Affiliate marketing itself is not black hat. But often there is so much competition, it creates a need for black hat. Ebay, for example has the largest team of world class spammers working for them. Affiliate programs are not bad- but often affiliates employ the techniques.
Danny- it's not that affiliate marketers are spammers, but often they need those tactics to compete.
Todd- Plenty of great affilates out there that aren't spammy. But- 90% of the spam in the engines is being created by affiliate marketing.
Mikkel- We use plenty of white hat techniques in very competitive spaces- but it has taken 2 years. Many people don't have that kind of time.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 01:19 PM
Greg- depends what you mean to "fool the spider". We often use it to remove session ID's. So... you have a graphic site that can't be changed... you use cloaking to deliver the same content that WOULD be there, or cloaking misspellings... those are black hat but just really corrections. Often the work he does is correcting so engines can tell what the page is.
Question: How do you know when you've been banned by search engines and how do you correct it?
Todd: Search for your site in the engine, if nothing appears you're banned. Also watch traffic patterns. He doesn't know how to fix it because he just registers new domains and goes back to work. But suggests you clean it up and e-mail the engines.
Greg- Buy the google people a beer at the bar. They actually do follow up on things brought to their attention. Tim Meyer or Matt Cutts.
Mikkel- Often there are other reasons for banning- often robots.txt or javascipt detection or server downtime. Rule out technical reasons before assuming a ban. It's pretty rare.
JIll- If you are banned you'll know why. There's always a reason.
Greg- You can feel it.
Mikkel: If you ARE banned and plead you innocence and you DO get back in, be very careful to keep it clean because you'll be watched and you will get a permanent ban. You may get one shot to get back in.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 01:35 PM
Greg: It's all about links, same strategies work on all engines really.
Mikkel: There isn't much differences on spam between the engines.
Question: Buying links- is it black hat?
Greg: It's just advertising. Same as anything else.
Todd: White hat- links on related sites that might actually send business. Black hat- buy as many links as possible for the lowest price. Don't care if they are ever clicked.
Question: Disclosure is often not being done and clients are being put at risk. Kudos to Greg for mentioning that.
Greg: I'm tired of cute names for spam techniques like zebra pages. Be a man and cloak. Some companies get al high and mighty about their techniques but it's just spam. Be honest.
Danny: The ethics on the techniques isn't as important as the ethics in the business practices. It's about ROI for the client and disclosure.
Question: Cloaking for flash seems like a valuable thing. Does Google permit that? Is it white/black hat?
Todd: Google should want the information on that site and as of now, they can't get it. So it SHOULD be ok, as long as it's clean.
<my comment- then why cloak it at all? Just have an alternate HTML site...>
Greg: Google changed their stance on cloaking- at one point it was ok because Google wanted that information they couldn't read. He has longstanding clients that have been using claoking on technologically difficult sites.
Alan- the issue with the flash is that it can't be viewed by anyone except humans with flash installed. A text alternative will allow more humans to read it as well.
Greg: In general flash is just silly. If you are deploying content that is worth reading, it shouldn't be in flash. It's just not smart.
Mikkel: I saw a great discussion forum made entirely of flash. That's just stupid.
Todd: But cool.
Danny: Google is not going to say cloaking is ok, but it's obvious that some examples are ok where it helps the site. <Shows an example of password protected listing in Google that is frustrating to the searcher.> He thinks Google is trying to find ways to spider content they wouldn't normally get. <gets stuck trying to back out of password protected serp page... lots of popups>
Paid inclusion is the only way you can get help or an answer from the search engines over special circumstances.
Question: What do the search engines owe the website? What is their duty to follow their own rules? Why not by any means necessary.
Greg: last year I learned to set aside money for AdWords in case of meltdown. They don't owe me anything. They set the rules- we have to adjust. It's a tough situation, but you have to be prepared.
Mikkel: The search engines don't own us anything anymore than the local papers owe us to run our press releases.
Alan: Search engines should follow robots.txt and supply a user agent- some engines don't. I didn't get affected much by the Florida update- didn't see much change.
Jill: Alan and I don't live by the Google guidelines- because the rules of creating a good website stay the same.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 01:36 PM
My battery is dying here- will try to fnish up the session but may not.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 01:38 PM
Todd: I see 2 sides. If you are paying the engine with PPC- the engine does own you to protect against clickfraud. If you are only in organics, they don't owe you anything at all. If you base your whole business plan on having a top 10 listing in Google, that's just stupid. People blame Google but they put themselves out of business.
Danny: Their obligation is to their searchers. They need to get the answer to the searcher. If he types in Hotmail, he expects Hotmail to be delivered, regardless of what they've done.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 01:40 PM
Posted 14 December 2004 - 01:46 PM
Todd: <deep voice> Welcome.
Danny: Anyone feel more white hat? Anyone feel the issue is more complex that they first assumed?
Greg: How many people out there face internal obstacles on their site that have forced them to contemplate using agressive seo techniques? Spam control is done by fear more than technology. There is a lot of human intervention and the relevance of your stie has a lot to do with the degree of spam that's "Acceptible". Bug brands do it all the time.
Alan: I have evidence of that. I have only reported 6 sites in 6 years and one I reported was a top 5 UK brand cloaking their home page. Google pulled the site for 1 day. Google needed the site to be in the index, so they did the right thing for the searcher, even if it si frustrating for the smaller brad.
Todd: Google did not find it on their own. You pointed it out. 99% of the reason Google will look at your website is a human report. Competitors are Googles' #1 spam fighers.
Jill: Typically big brand sites don't need spam techniques.
Todd; But it's fun!
Edited by Scottie, 20 December 2004 - 02:33 AM.
Posted 14 December 2004 - 04:50 PM
And she didn't even throw anything at me while I was up on the stage!
Posted 14 December 2004 - 05:16 PM
It makes sense when you think about the sites that are out vs the sites that are still in that are using the same techniques... it does make you wonder why some are still left in... not the valuable big brand sites, but just regular sites using spam techniques.
Another theory is that they don't look at every spam report... just a random sample because of the high number. Still doesn't make sense to me.
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