White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO
There’s good SEO… and then there’s bad SEO
I was looking at a mediation website, of all things, the other day, and down in the comments, someone had posted a link to a website completely unrelated to the article, or even to the website that I was looking at. At first I was a little surprised that it actually made it into the comments, but then I realized, well duh, a lot of website owners aren’t web developers and basically just know how to upload posts, or hire someone else to upload posts and don’t realize there’s a “disable comments” feature on a lot of different platforms. That’s one reason why I like WordPress so much because it’s pretty darn simple to enable or disable comments, but anyway that’s not entirely the point of this article.
Seeing that comment got me thinking about various SEO tactics, and why it’s important to understand some of the tactics your SEO agency is wanting to do before you sign a contract.
A couple of quick definitions.
You’ve probably heard the term white hat SEO (if you’re looking into search engine optimization, that is) or black hat SEO.
Here’s what they mean:
White Hat is basically complying with the search engines and creating a good user experience.
Black Hat is basically tricking the search engines to build your site’s authority and who cares about user friendliness.
Gray hat is somewhere in between the two.
Alright, back to the meat.
So putting a bunch of comments on different sites that link back to your site can be okay… or not okay. It kind of depends on the situation. There are better ways of getting your site or page ranked, but this is one technique that I’ve seen, and it can–notice I emphasize the word can–it can be effective. But it’s risky.
Now, if it’s relevant content that you’re commenting on and pointing your link to, well, Google probably isn’t going to see that as such a big deal.
The problem comes in when you’ve got a ton of links in your comments on websites that aren’t related at all to your website’s content because then Google views that as spammy. And when Google views your links as spam, it penalizes your site.
Getting your site penalized sucks.
It’s a big pain, especially as an SEO expert because then I have to go through and find those spammy links and remove them. This can take a long time. What’s perhaps even worse is it takes a long time for Google to update things, and then get the site back up to where it was prior to Google going KGB on those spammy links.
Let’s say that your site gets busted because you were too aggressive with your optimization and used black hat techniques and your site got penalized, not de-indexed, just penalized, and so you ended up on page five. And let’s say that you still have faith in optimizers, and hire another one. It’s going to take time to find another person. Then it’s going to take time to rework a strategy. Then it’s going to take a lot of time to remove all the spammy crap. Then it’s going to take time ranking again.
That’s going to cost a lot of money. Not just in the amount of money you’ve got to upfront, but in the money you’ve lost in lost traffic.
Nobody wants that.
No business can survive on that.
Heck, sometimes it may even be more cost-effective to get a new site. It really depends upon the situation. See, my philosophy is to run my business in such a way that I can live the life that I want to live so that my clients can live the life they want to live. Blame it on growing up on a quasi-farm out in the middle of nowhere, but doing tactics to just make a fast return and ignoring the long game just doesn’t seem very honest to me. It’ll also put another nail in the coffin, so to speak, to where my life isn’t run by me anymore.
Now, SEO is a language unto itself. Learning it takes a lot of time. So don’t expect to know everything about what the person you hire is going to do. But know the basic strategies.
Here’s another common tactic: shooting a ton of PBNs (private blog networks) at your site to get it powered up. Now, this can be an awesome strategy. But it could also hurt you. It truly depends on the situation. If you’ve looked at other articles I’ve written or talked with other SEO companies, you may know that this was one of the algorithm changes Google made back in 2015.
So for example, if you’ve got a brand new site (or even newish), and all of a sudden there’s a crap-ton of websites that don’t have a super awesome reputation according to Google that are now talking about your site, Google is going to get suspicious. (I’m personifying Google on purpose; it obviously can’t think . . . or can it? >;}.) And instead of bumping you up to the top and staying there, all of a sudden you’re stuck on page three, where freaking no one looks! Except for my mother. But that’s beside the point.
The point is, if you’re not on page one you’re lost. So having the right strategy in place is going to be essential to getting you to page one, slot one, position one. And in order to get the right strategy, you’ll need to know the basic strategy before you sign up.
Probably sounds obvious, but then again–you have to ask–why are there so many horror stories out there?
If you’d like to see what we can do for you, swing on over to our discovery page, fill it out, send it off with a click, and we’ll come to the table with a strategy that works.