Because I often speak and write passionately about the value of white hat SEO and broader white hat inbound marketing, there seems to be a weird misconception that I must naturally despise all who engage in black or gray hat tactics. That’s definitely not the case, and I want to make the distinction clear.
Doing gray/black hat? Best be sure your tactics are smarter than anything world’s best paid, most talented computer scientists could catch.
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) June 4, 2012
It’s true that in nearly every scenario, I’m a fan of choosing white hat over black hat. But I’ll admit there are goals and opportunities for those doing black hat, and I don’t harbor any animosity toward those engaging in it with the knowledge of what they’re doing and why.
I have lots of friends who have done and even today engage in manipulative techniques. Most of them are what I’d consider very advanced, very smart and very aware marketers. They almost always follow the same patterns of investing in these techniques for sites and campaigns they intend to be short-term or merely experimental (to test how Google/Bing/Twitter/Facebook) react to certain techniques. Not only do I think this is a smart idea, I think it’s very helpful to those of us on the white hat side to learn where the boundaries exist.
A great example might be Ayima’s Rob Kerry, who’s pretty open about the fact that he’s tried (and continues to try) some of the shadier exploits in the web marketing field. He did a great video on Moz about the Penguin update, sharing some learnings that likely would never be available if he’d not invested time in webspam tactics.
What I hate are black & gray hats pretending that the only way to do SEO or marketing is to break the rules (or sometimes, the law). That’s total bullshit and most of them know it. I also hate those who knowingly sell links or services to unaware businesses and operators that frequently result in penalties to their sites. One black hat I know sells links on his old networks/farms that Google’s found and discounted, which, IMO, isn’t spam, it’s just plain being evil. That kind of stuff gives our industry a terrible reputation and I hope I can do more to stop it.
So, to clear things up – if you’re engaging in spam, I don’t hate you nor do I harbor any ill will. In fact, I’m fascinated to learn more about what you’ve discovered. I just hope that you don’t mind if I cheer for Google to catch and ban your stuff and to help those doing white hat to rank above you – face it, they’ve earned it, and you’ve got plenty of other opportunities 🙂