Is Black Hat SEO Officially Mainstream?

SEO Bomb has an interesting story about Burkely Thomas Financial doing what was once thought to be black hat SEO:

Mr Burkley of Thomson Financial said the computer-generated stories had not made any mistakes. But he said they were very standardized. “We might try and write a few more adjectives into the program.”

Thomson started, according to the story in Financial Times, writing computer programs for different types of stories, at a cost of $150,000-$200,000 (£79,623-£106,190) per project, to try to catch up with rivals.

And this raises the question – is auto-generation of content finally going to be a non-shady and accepted technique? Is the quality of the auto-generated content so high and accurate

So now we have:

1. Popular sites with nice user interfaces that are basically glorified scraper sites
2. The New York Times cloaking; in fact, of the top 500 alexa sites, less than 10% show the same content all over the world
3. Major sites creating computer generated content
4. Google Poisoning Keyword lists (by referral spamming)
5. Massive site Networks purchased and built primarily to link farm

and that stuff is all Kosher. Let’s not forget some of the over the top stuff that actually had some backlash like:

6. The BMW doorway pages
7. Wordpress.org Spamming
8. Syndic8.com caught with millions of pages of spam.

If Black Hat Search Engine Optimization is not already mainstream, it soon will be. There is already a convergence from all the big black hat players I talk to. The Hybrid Blackhat / Whitehat site will be the wave of the future. But it won’t be called blackhat.

If you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning, you might remember when I first predicted this:

Essentially, the highly personalized web of the future will use scrapers and computer generated content to deliver exactly what you want to you in exactly the form you want. The content will be the most relevant for your search queries and will be delivered in exactly the tone and manner you like best. But who is really pioneering the computer generated content, the rewording and content scraping technology of the Web?

The SEO Black Hats.

All the old tricks will just have new names so they can be used without the stigma: euphemisms like “Content Repurposing” (scraping), “Niche Aggregators” (spam sites), “Content Networks” (link farms), “Geo Targeting” (cloaking), “Indexing Assistance” (more cloaking+) and “Mashups” (scraping more than one source) are already becoming the norm.

Is MTV going to start comment spamming as soon as they figure out a nice name for it? Will we see landing pages on Toys R Us pushing Viagra? What about Sony Faking thousands of myspace profiles to promote their products . . . is that in the cards?

Who knows?!? At this point it seems anything is possible.

What do you think? Is Black Hat Search Engine Optimization Officially Mainstream yet? or are we all really just concerned with the same question regardless of Hat color: “What works?”

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5 Responses to “Is Black Hat SEO Officially Mainstream?”

  1. marco says:

    What a sad world you are painting!

    Although I concur with your prediction, I really hope this will not be as bad as that. I hope that creativity and talent will still be the difference between a good site and a great site not how many CPUs are running the work processing engines behind it!

    By the way, will you change the colour of your hat then (grey or maybe white)?

  2. copyblogger says:

    If the AI is good enough, this will be positive. But we’re a long way off still, unless the Singularity comes quicker. :)

  3. [...] SEO Blackhat has a good post about how once unacceptable practices are now becoming more mainstream [...]

  4. FreeAgent says:

    I have also though of Black Hat SEO as being a mainstream form of Search Engine Marketing. I know many others do as well, but no one every wants to admit it. I have persoanlly been a Black and White Hat SEO crossbreed (Gray Hat SEO) for about 3 years now, I have naver got a site banned or penalized and I am making triple what I was making as just a White Hat SEO.

    Black Hat SEO + White Hat SEO = Great SEO Synergy

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