Archive for the ‘White Hat vs Black Hat’ Category

Don’t Buy Links – Buy the Whole Site

The war on Paid links is in full gear. Buying and selling links without the nofollow tag is now officially a black hat SEO practice that is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Google has and will continue to penalize sites that flagrantly buy and sell links. If you are buying or selling links: do it covertly & do it under the radar.

However, in many instances there may be a better option that trying to buy a link from a site: buy the site outright. While this won’t work for a large newspaper site, those links have long been void of link juice anyway. In fact, anyone who is openly selling may already have their link juice passing privileges revoked.

So who does that leave? Generally, the sites you can still buy links from that can pass link juice (help you site rank in the SERPs) will be small to medium sites with a single owner or decision maker. In those instances, where you’ve already gone through the bother of finding out who owns the site and getting in contact with them, why offer to buy a link for a few thousand a year? Wouldn’t you be better served by just making an offer on the entire site?

If you bought the site you’d get any revenue it was producing, any potential appreciation from the domain name, and total editorial control (you could link to some or all of your other sites). Sites aren’t as cheap as they were a few years ago, but you’d be surprised how many people will jump at $10 or $15k. Hell, even monsters like Adult Friend Finder are only selling for only 3X EBITDA.

So if you are going to ask someone to buy a link, perhaps the first question you ask them shouldn’t be “Would you sell me a link on this page for X/year?” but rather “Can I buy your site ____ from you for $XYZ?”.

If you buy the entire site then you’re no longer violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by changing where it links. It’s not like we actually give a shit, but . . . ya know . . .

SEO Black Hat Intern Wanted

Looking to jumpstart your career as a web entrepreneur or SEO Consultant? Aching to see how the pros really do it? Want to work alongside me, QuadsZilla?

Well then today just may be your lucky day.

SEO Black Hat will be taking on an unpaid intern to work on various projects in Search, Mainstream Web Projects, and porn Adult (and no, we’re not shooting content).

The Hours will be long (about 25 per week), the pay sucks (nothing), you have to put up with my shit (yay fun!) and you will be doing mostly white and grey hat projects (read “somewhat boring”).

I can be a demanding hard ass who doesn’t have time for people who can come up with “great excuses” for not getting things dong.

If you’re not responsive and reliable or there just isn’t a personality fit, I’ll fire your ass from this unpaying job faster than a [see here].

However, you will get hands on experience and training on how to:

  • run extremely profitable web businesses
  • build sites from scratch to profitability
  • grow web communities
  • network and develop a digital rolodex of successful web entrepreneurs

Most Good SEOs are taking home more than $350k per year and doing it on their own terms. Look at me – I basically work when I want, where I want, and with whom I want.

My ideal candidate is a sexy English major senior at an Ivy league University who has worked summers as a successful sales rep even though she’s a trust fund baby. . . but I might just settle for you.

Think you should get the job?

Convince me.

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?”

The Most Cutting Edge SEO Exploits No One is Publishing

You know that the best SEO Black Hats are doing something more than scraping, using a site generator, comment spamming, and pinging to be raking in more than $100k per month.

But what is it?

Right now, there is way too much good stuff that I simply can’t publish on the SEO Black Hat blog. If I posted these tactics and exploits they would immediately get all the wrong kind of attention. The detailed conversations about how exactly to abuse search engine algorithms, generate massive traffic, and what other Black Hats are doing must remain underground to retain their effectiveness.

But what if I told you that you could discuss these exploits with me without paying my $500 an hour consulting fee? What if I told you there was a way to join in on the private, cutting edge discussions with some of the best Black Hats and web entrepreneurs in the world?

Would you be interested?

Because now you can . . .

Today is the official launch of the resource you’ve looked everywhere for but never found:

The Private SEO Black Hat Forum

Normally what you get on forums are people who don’t know anything talking with people who don’t want to say anything. You can occasionally find amazing tips on some forums: but you have to dig through 400 crappy posts just to find one post that is useful. That becomes a huge time sink.

How are the SEO Black Hat forums different?

Quality: We’re not going to have any contests to see who can make the most posts. That just creates tons of crap that no one wants to read. Our focus is on quality over quantity. Our primary concern is with succinctly answering one question: “What works?”

Sophisticated: Many of the topics we discuss are very advanced and require a high level of technical or business acumen to appreciate.

Expert Discussions: The SEO Black Hat forums are not for everyone and they may not be right for you. If you are relatively new to SEO or building websites, then do not join the SEO Black Hat Forums: you will be in way over your head. There are plenty of newbie forums out there for you – this is not one of them. Our forums are for successful web entrepreneurs to develop strategies that drive more traffic and generate more revenues.

Forum Membership Benefits

Access to Expert Advice and Discussions
We have both White Hat and Black Hat Experts that are already benefiting from new tool development, techniques, scripts and the sharing of ideas.
Some members you may already be familiar with include:

* CountZero from blackhat-seo.com (Black Hat)

* RSnake from ha.ckers.org (Web Security Expert)

* Dan Kramer from Kloakit (Cloaking Expert)

* Jaimie Sirovich from seoegghead.com (Token White Hat / SEO Geek)

There are several other members that you are certainly familiar with who are using handles for anonymity. We have others who are more focused on security, vulnerabilities, and coding. There are still more that you are likely unfamiliar with but are nevertheless web millionaires.

Databases – Large Datasets
If you want your sites to have massive amounts of unique content you need large data sets. The trading, discussion and posting of large data sets is going on right now on our forums.

Expired / Deleted Domain Tools
Want to use to use the same domain Tool that I used to get a Page Rank 6 site in the Gambling Space for just $8? This domain tool is available for members to use for free.

50% off on Kloakit – The Professional Cloaking Software

Scripts – Several useful scripts have already been posted – interesting thing you may not have thought of before are being discussed and developed.

Exploits and Case Studies: The really good stuff I can’t talk about on the SEO Blackhat Blog is being discussed on the SEO Black Hat Forums. Right now, some of the conversations include beating captchas, domain kiting, data mining, hoax marketing, XSS vulnerabilities as they relate to SEO, and much more.

Pricing: $100 per month.

The price will soon be rising significantly as more databases, hosted tools, scripts and exploits are added. However, once you lock in a membership rate it will never go up and you will continue to have access to everything.

So, if you think you’re ready for the most intense Black Hat SEO discussions anywhere, then here’s what you need to do:

1. Register at the SEO Black Hat Forums.

2. Go to the User CP and select Paid Subscription.

I’ll see you on the inside!

White Hats who Need a Hug

This digitalpoint thread is ripe with white hats who seem like they need to be talked down off the ledge.

The whole thread is full of stuff like this:

Well I don’t mind posting my info about my sites. And the results of what big daddy did to them.

I don’t use php for anything except wordpress blogs. Those blogs are ranking in the SERPS fine in Google. No supplemental pages either.

I have never been a member of any type of coop.

I don’t use adsense.

The remainder of my pages use html and have .shtml extensions. I use SSI files and some javascript for navigation. That’s it.

I trade links the old fashioned way. I email people and ask them. I contact related sites. We trade. That’s it.

All content is 100% mine. No scraping, no RSS or XML feeds. Nothing. Just me typing at my keyboard and writing articles.

So to sum it up, I do exactly what google has always told us to do. Been doing it for years. Never had a problem with’em. Never had a problem with any SE.

Since BD I’ve lost over 50% of my pages, on all sites, to supp hell. I orginally lost all of them except their index.html pages. About half have come back into the SERPS. The rest may as well not exist.

Yahoo and MSN continue to rank and index my pages. Everything seems fine with them.

So what can we surmise from that? I’m falling into the “Minstrel and Old Welsh Guy” camp. Google tried some big algo change with Big Daddy. They went spam hunting. Failed miserably. And in the end they wreaked havoc on pure whitehat sites that just happened to get caught up in the spam hunt.

Google won’t talk of course. So that leaves all of us to speculate and try to modify our sites to suit google’s latest whim. I’ve stopped doing that. I’m not changing anything else about my sites for google.

F—’em!

Remember my plea from before Christmas? If not have a quick reread . . . these folks need your help . . . or at least a hug.

Is Black Hat SEO like Cheating?

From as far back as when I was 8 years old I remember trying to find holes in computer systems to gain an “unfair” advantage. I remember copying ghost files for the DOS game dungeon hack to get more items for new characters. Back in 1988 when I was playing Pool of Radiance, I learned hexadecimal so I could use xtreepro to modify the character stats to give myself all 25s when the highest normal stat was 18. It worked, it was fun, and my enjoyment of the game was enhanced because I had an “unfair” advantage. Part of the fun of game to me was beating the system. Today, game cheats, hacks and cracks are a huge part of the multi billion dollar a year gaming industry.

Although this incredible example of in game deceit was not technically cheating, it was so intriguing to me that I almost started playing Eve Online. It was not done with hacking accounts nor did they use alts. The beauty of heist was that it technically fell into the rules of the game and was all done in character. The result? They made off with more than 15,000 real dollars worth in virtual goods in the biggest in game heist in MMORPG history.

In high school, I learned that if you penciled in the “key” above question 1 in space 5 of a scantron, you would get a 100% on the test and everyone who got a question right that you got wrong whose scantron was fed after yours into the machine would get those questions marked wrong. This tactic was only really good if you were only going to get 1 or 2 questions wrong anyway – otherwise it might raise a red flag and you ran the risk of getting caught. Personally, I never used this tactic unless I knew that someone else was going to be doing it on the same test. But if someone else was doing it, I’d be damned if I was going to be penalized as a result.

Maybe it’s that mindset that attracted me to black hat SEO. I like unfair advantages and I am clearly not alone.

From the New York times article on cheating in College:

In a survey of nearly 62,000 undergraduates on 96 campuses over the past four years, two-thirds of the students admitted to cheating. The survey was conducted by Don McCabe, a Rutgers professor who has studied academic misconduct and helped found the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke.

So if two thirds of college students admit to cheating, and gamecheats have become such a major industry – what does that say about the future of black hat SEO? Is black hat SEO like Cheating? And is cheating always wrong?

For example, I am against click fraud, shaving, fishing and most anything that can clearly be construed as stealing. Also, I think that it’s unethical to do Black Hat SEO consulting for a client who is not aware of all the risks involved. But to me, Google or Yahoos guidelines only enter into the equation in so far as they access penalties for specific practices. I don’t have a problem with comment spamming unless someone takes it too far. And I have no problem with creating computer generated content sites, newsmaster sites, niche aggragator, doing XSS, 301 tricks, doorway pages, typo spam, cloaking and a host of other practices. I don’t give Google any moral authority to judge what I do. If they have to make certain business decisions, I’m fine with that. But don’t try to tell me that going outside Googles webmasters guidelines is the moral equivalent of fraud. It may be for you, but it’s not for me.

With deeper analysis, we find that most everything does not fall into simple absolutes of black or white; most often things are shades of grey (or pink, blue or hex:24b655). With SEO, as with everything in life, you should measure things in terms of risk vs. reward and cost vs. benefit. If moral concerns increase your “costs” (as they do for me) then they should be part of your decision making equation. It all comes down to what you are comfortable with and what your risk tolerance is.

Only You Can Prevent Search Engine Spam: Only You.

Only you can prevent search engine spam
Friends,

Every year thousands of white hat webmasters go hungry. They obey Google’s every whim, make unique & worthwhile content and bring joy to our lives – but can’t seem to make ends meet.

Now there is a new hope for these haggard souls – White Hat Appeal:

  • By giving to the White Hat Appeal you can help ensure that one less White Hat turns to the dark side.
  • Many white hats are struggling to retain their holy glow; in fact for some it’s becoming a taste of do spam or eat spam.
  • The White Hat Appeal aims to help needy White Hats keep the righteous path.
  • These poor SEO’s need your help urgently.
  • For less than the cost of a coffee store you can do your part to help prevent search engine spamming.

    So during this time of holiday bliss and cheer try to think of our less fortunate brethren of the lighter cloth.

    Won’t you give today?

    White Hats Going Black Hat?

    From Search Engine Watch’s Black Hats Going White?, I hurdled the registration process at mediapost to read A Whiter Shade of Black (no it’s not a Michael Jackson biography):

    Greg Jarboe: Black hat stuff is getting too hard. I’m actually thinking about turning legit.

    Certain things are harder, many things are much easier. If you’ve kept up and have been innovating, you should be doing better this year than last (unless you were just KILLING it in the past, and have been brought back into the upper stratosphere). I’ve noticed that many techniques that once worked great by bluntly applying en masse now require more finesse. It’s the evolution of the game.

    What would cause a confirmed black hatter to turn his back on the incredibly lucrative dark side of SEO and step into the light? As much as the army of engineers at Google and Yahoo would like to say it’s their constant refinement of their algorithms, I think there’s another force at work here. Online is just growing up.

    I don’t think that’s it at all. I can’t speak for everyone, but many of the strong black hats that I know are using their black hat loot to finance a diverse portfolio of Internet ventures. The reason we are “stepping into the light” is to cover all the bases: to diversify. People get wrapped up in ethics when the real question for web entrepreneurs is: what works best?

    SEO Black Hats don’t stop using a certain technique because we become overwhelmed with guilt from all the money we’re making. We don’t stop because we’ve outgrown an adolescent immaturity that some apparently think drives SEO Black Hats. We stop using combinations of techniques when they loose their utility or we develop new techniques that work better.

    Danny Sullivan’s better analysis showed that he has a finger on the pulse of the SEO community:

    More white hats seem to feel things they might have deemed wrong in the past to be more acceptable, while some black hats are deciding some aggressive tactics might not be worth continuing with. Meanwhile, “bad” techniques like cloaking suddenly don’t seem so black hat when Google itself fully cooperates with some sites to allow it. The world of SEO just getting more gray, to me.

    If Danny Sullivan’s world is getting more grey, it means that some of the staunch SEO White Hats finally understand that obeying what Google (or Yahoo or MSN) says is not as sound of a business policy as paying attention to whay they do.

    Today’s Hot Topic: Am I an Unethical Whore?

    Chime in on our ethics and sell out discussions or cast your vote in our poll that is nestled between two banner ads on the sidebar.

    The poll is with Democracy AJAX Poll which is much better than the old democracy plugin. Because it uses Ajax and only refreshes the poll portion of the page, there are no issuses with “poll result URLs” getting indexed. Also, this poll gives users the ability “write in” their own answer so things like this can happen. (via fark)

    Link to Authorities and Hide These Links With CSS

    Some site owners (blakhat and whitehat) are stingy with outbound links. They think that because the 1998 Google Algorythm paper implied that each outbound link bleeds pagerank, that this still applies today.

    It does not.

    In fact, our data and testing suggests that linking to 2-4 external subject authorities actually increases a pages credibility with the search engines.

    How do you find subject authorities? For white hats, you should know what sites are relevant to your niche and link to them liberally.

    For black hat seo, your site building script should include 1-4 links per page to subject authorities. Obviously, you want to automate this process.

    These authorities could be:
    1. Random search result from the top 50 Google results for the keyword phrases.
    2. Links to the wikipedia
    3. dmoz results
    4. Old media news outfits (New York Times, Forbes.com . . . etc.)

    Obviously, since you don’t want people clicking on these links instead of your PPC or affiliate program, you have several options. These links should be linearly (on page code) very close to your body text. However, you can uses the CSS to put the division with these links into cold zones on the page – or make them disappear entirely.

    The white hat way to go is to use the CSS to put these links in a cold portion of the page. This article from Google includes this diagram:

    Hot and Cold Zones of a web page for ad placement

    The white zones are read least.

    Here are two tips from Captain Obvious:

    1. Don’t make these nofollow links – that defeats the purpose of linking to authorities.
    2. Make the links target=blank so that if one of your surfers clicks it, there is still a chance that they will click on one of your ads too.

    For the darker hats, you can use the following in your CSS to make a division invisible:

    #important {
    visibility: hidden;
    }
    or

    #body{
    display:none;
    }

    or

    #main{
    display:block
    }

    Notice I didn’t name the division something that screams I’m a spammer like “hidden”, “invisible”, “hide” or “HeyGoogleThisIsSpam.”

    As Herman Sherman pointed out yesterday, “you can always pop that css file in your images directory … which so happens to be the same directory i always exclude in my robots.txt”