The White Hat Myth

By | June 1, 2013

Why Can’t Proponents Of “Ethical SEO” Provide Real Evidence?

The “Straw Man” Arguments Against Methods That Effective Marketers Abandoned Years Ago

I suppose I’m not alone in wondering how other people have responded to the recent update that Google have presented us with. Others are certainly looking at how other websites and web masters have responded.

White Hat SEO evangelists like to paint a black and white picturePersonally, the reason I do this is twofold. Firstly, there is a sense of seeing how my own methods have compared against my competitors over the previous six months or so. The second aspect is to see if I can glean any information regarding “which way the wind is blowing” and how I should alter my current tactics to make the best use of the new conditions.

Over the years I’ve been doing this, a couple of things always occur immediately following a major update.

The first one I’ve spoken about before. It is the loud “drum banging” of the few Webmasters who were adversely affected. Those who are seeing their sites demoted in the search engines and their traffic levels drop – in some cases to unsustainable levels – and put in turn hit their revenue often reducing it to zero over night.

Another issue which always occurs, is that the proponents of what they like to call ethical or “White Hat” search engine optimisation come out of the woodwork to say “We told you so”, then loudly and proudly announce that their methods are the best and the only ones that can sustain long-term ranking and keep any business which relies heavily on Internet marketing afloat.

My fourth go at a none ranting rebuttal to the White Hat evangelisers and their anecdotal attacks on straw man arguments against any SEO who does not use their methods

I’ve looked at sites like SearchEngineWatch, SearchEngineLand and Forbes and seen many of the same topics raised over and over again. Our White Hat methods win and spammers lose. “This is the update when Google has finally cleaned house”.

I’ve no idea how this message starts, and I’ve certainly no idea what facts it is based upon. Interestingly not one of the articles I’ve linked to here states a single fact regarding the number of sites demoted because of their use of less than ethical techniques

Here is a test for my readers. Take a look to yourself at your own niches and see how many sites you consider poorly optimised or unethically linked have been removed from page one rankings.

I know I’ve checked in the 4 niches my 8 sites operate in – I know many of the webmasters for these sites. A look at the linking metrics and on-site set up shows how they were built and gives a very good idea of how they are currently being promoted. In some cases it’s even possible to take a good stab at guessing exactly which services and tools are being used.

I’ve widened the search here and looked at the top 100 commercial terms worldwide. Those in finance, “adult”, gaming and weight/health and fitness niches.

Guess what? The Blue Hat sites are still ranking. In most cases better than ever.

What do I mean by Blue Hat?

Blue Hat is the leading edge of SEO thinking. An unashamed “broad brush” approach to marketing that looks primarily to…

“What Works Now And In the Short To Medium Term Future”

Why only medium term? Easy… there is no point in online marketing at looking any further.

By medium term we are talking 1-3 years – there is no guarantee that even Google will be here in 2016, and it is increasingly likely that their share of commercial search will continue to drop even if they are. To plan specifics past this time frame is like re-arranging grains of sand on the beach in the hope the rising tide will not move them.

Blue Hat sites promoted with automation tools such as Ultimate Demon are still there, in fact outside of major corporations just about every website ranking page 1 in the top 100 commercial search terms is the same as it was two years ago.

Outside of the major corporations sites, the ones that are there are subverting (not breaking) just about every rule that Google’s updates claim to enforce. Penguin 2 has made virtually no difference whatsoever. Neither did any of the updates prior to that

And here is the fallacy that so-called white hat SEM authors and bloggers always fall into.

They assume that those looking to use more effective methods are stuck in some sort of pattern that originated 10 or 12 years ago. That outside their own methods (which they loudly evangelize) there is only “Bad SEO” – and by the way they talk about it, it is exactly the same “bad SEO” as existed 10 years ago. How very very wrong they are.

They don’t understand anything other than their own systems and assume that everybody who breaks their rules is following the same “Hammy content and Spammy linking” approach to Internet marketing and SEO that was working in 2003.

They are doing themselves no favours by not understanding the methods of other effective Internet marketers. More fool them!

I’m going to make a guess here and say that 90% of those who break the clear-cut White Hat rules do indeed fail.

I’m talking of bedroom hackers who’d try and shortcut the system and have absolutely zero in the way of work ethic. They will buy the cheapest tools use the cheapest content, build the cheapest websites and use the cheapest methods possible. They will forego any reasonable advice to rationality and plough on ahead.

There may be tears and tantrums when they fail. And they almost definitely will fail.

They may even convert to “Poacher turned Gamekeeper” and pronounced based on their (lack of) experience that “Blue or Black Hat doesn’t work..I should know I’ve tried it!”

But that isn’t Blue Hat. That’s just lazy marketing.

These people would likely fail at any business venture they undertook. They would fail at any other tint of headwear available. They failed because they were lazy and indolent.

Blue Hat is all about innovation. It’s about seeing which way the wind is blowing, and altering your methods.

This site now gets well over 200,000 unique visitors per month. A huge percentage of the visitors are repeat visitors who come back month after month. I like to think my readers are the kind of people who understand how important it is to stay one step ahead of the game.

  • How content is playing a more important role
  • How quality is gradually defeating quantity in terms of direct inbound links
  • The synergy between off site and on-site SEO
  • The importance of social noise
  • The benefits to be had of regular updates
  • The need for control over all SEO processes where “blind spamming” will fail
  • The importance of multimedia to attract as wide an audience as possible
  • How new factors such as co-citation have come into play

Now, to the uninitiated this might look like pure White Hat methods.

In some ways they are.

The important thing here, as somebody who is a devout proponent of Blue Hat and innovative search engine optimisation is… they can all be twisted. More importantly, they can all be automated.

And there’s the “swear” word. Automation.

It’s a swear word to the “ethical” IM brigade.

How dare we automate! How dare we innovate!

Here’s a quick analogy.

Who is the more ethical businessman Bob Cratchit or Ebenezer Scrooge?

Here is the answer. It’s Bob Cratchit.

The follow-up question is, in terms of pure revenue generation..

Who is the more successful businessman, Bob Cratchit, or Ebenezer Scrooge?

It’s Scrooge – my a country mile. Well done, you’ve won a coconut.

I’m not saying be unethical, and certainly not saying exploit others. But the use of SEO automation and outsourcing to achieve results faster and more effectively while sacrificing virtually nothing in terms of longevity and the prospects of your website or enterprise is just simple common sense.

Those who practice Blue Hat techniques are constantly looking at the landscape in search engine optimisation and seeing how they can best use their resources.

  • They actively analyse data to a micro level, they share skills.
  • The data analyst will pass the information on to the problem solver…
  • The problem solver and adapt a solution solution and pass it on to…
  • The automator, who will build the software and in turn sell it on or provide it’s use as a service.

Finally =  the Blue Hat Internet marketer who, if he uses the new methods wisely and understands the purpose of context which will give him the longest success, will then turn these innovations, automations and ideas into increased profit over a long period.

Importantly, It is an iterative process. It never stops. In Blue Hat we are always looking at the search engine environment. We look at what works from ethical sources, we borrow the best of it. We twist it, automate it, subvert it and turn it into a faster and more efficient method of making money.

Meanwhile, those who consider themselves truly ethical marketers continue largely with the techniques they were using 5 years ago and assume that any other method is stuck a decade behind.

They fail to realise that they are the ones who refuse to move with the times and are not looking at the wider picture. Here in Blue Hat we always look at the wider picture and we’re prepared to be humble enough to learn from anyone, to adapt to any situation, and to take the blows if we deserve them.

We are the broad thinkers of the Internet. The White Hat ostriches their heads stuck firmly in the sand are the narrow thinkers with their “Our way, or the highway” mentality. Often spouted with evangelical fervour and backed with zero real evidence.

Here’s a maxim for all business, indeed all human interaction everywhere

Be Wary Of Those Who Are Certain They Are Right And Brooch No Argument On The Subject

They are so certain they are right that, not only are they not prepared to look over their shoulder at what’s happening around them, but they still insist on making stereotypical assumptions about how other marketers work.

That’s their loss and our again.