Knowing what you're buying in the world of SEO is more critical than some other forms of marketing since in the world of Search Enginge Marketing Services, there are guidelines Google has established that rule the game. If you're willing to compromise Google's Terms of Service to achieve website gains, that means you're dealing in Black Hat SEO strategies. These techniques, when discovered by Google, will incur a manual penalty that may only be suppression (Google allowing you to rank only in positions 100 or more for instance) or may be complete eradication from the online index.
Black Hat SEO vs. Grey Hat SEO
There are even strategies that fall into gaps within Google's Terms of Service offering a more aggressive strategy than traditional White Hat SEO. These services have been labeled "Grey Hat" by the industry since they're not a confirmed risk like Black Hat campaigns are, rather they include elements on which Google may not have weighed in and thus risk the same outcome as Black Hat SEO should Google decide later that those services are no longer admirable.
White Hat SEO and 51Blocks
Having been through more than one algorithm update that shook the entire world of SEO, the team at 51Blocks is committed to offering White Hat SEO campaigns that only include techniques approved by Google. The following video with Michael and John talking about why is a must see for anyone considering hiring a Search Engine Marketing Agency that claims they can get certain results! Might they be utilizing Black Hat SEO strategies to achieve those outcomes? If so, are you prepared for the associated risks?
Michael: Hey, Friday Confessional.
John: Friday afternoon. We have not started these in the morning yet but that's probably next.
Michael: But before the bag of happy if you've watched our previous videos.
John: Yeah, no bag of happy yet. So what...? I don't even know.
Michael: Today. Today we're going to talk about... I'm going to ask you about why does our industry have what is called black hat S.E.O., grey hat S.E.O., and white hat S.E.O.? So what has caused our industry...? What do those terms even mean? And I guess what type of S.E.O. does 51Blocks subscribe to?
John: Okay, the black hat, grey hat, white hat definition. Black hat is something that is expected to be conflicting with Google's terms of service and thus is jeopardizing your entire website's presence in the algorithm and the search index.
Michael: So an example of that would be?
John: Building artificial link juice through sites that are not relevant. Buying links is the number one way you can do that. And grey hat is an aggressive or slight bend of the Google terms of service in a way that you hope may not be categorized yet as black hat.
Michael: Or you get caught.
John: Right. It's pushing the envelope as far as you think you can push it without going straight into what you know is black hat. An example of grey hat would be creating some fake review profiles and trying to up your credibility through a bunch of personas that aren't real. That may not get caught, but if it does you're going to be in a world of hurt. White hat is the services that you know adhere to Google's terms of service, and we say Google's terms of service because those exist and it's very clear what Google is expecting webmasters to not do. So it's something that... Hang on a second, I'll explain when that moment occurs, but white hat is everything that we know can only be perceived today as legitimate website strength work, like writing an article and distributing it to an online resource. If that gets published, that's great enhancement of your online person. If you're expanding your website with blog posts and relevant new content, that's white hat, good work.
And when these terms finally crystallized was the very first time that Google applied the update, we called it the farming update at that point because we thought they were trying to get rid of content farms. But the very first Google algorithmic update that purged websites from the site index, 2007 maybe, I can't tell you the date for sure anymore. That was the day we realized there is in fact a black hat side. And since then Google has been more and more defined about what is black hat and white hat. And we will only ever recommend you do white hat services.
Michael: So do you recommend that agencies understand the differences between grey hat, black hat, and white hat, and why I guess?
John: To really be as competitive in your niche as you can be, you need to know what the black hat world is doing, how effective that is, and where in those strategies you can remain white hat and still maybe leverage the points that they are attacking. That said, that's a very tricky place to be. We spend time personally blowing things apart so we can watch some of that behavior and make sure that we never overlook an opportunity that a client might be able to leverage. And frankly, if you're not crystal clear that there's a black hat, grey hat, white hat universe of services in S.E.M., then you're probably not someone who's doing a very good job.
Michael: Or at least not understanding the entire industry, right?
John: Yeah, your scope is too limited.
Michael: So that's John Copeland's definition of the black hat, white hat, and grey hat.
John: Which is probably going to change tomorrow. So I just want to let you know that in our industry ,with so many things in flux, those are terms though that have been around for a while, so I don't know that they're disappearing any time soon but...
Michael: No, I think people are always going to be trying to game the system and try to find a quick way to rank like we were in 2007 or 2008 when you could go into Google places and change your category and you could rank right away. Those days...
John: White text on white background.
Michael: That stuff used to work, cloaking pages, all that stuff, so...
John: All those server level redirects that no one could understand. So if you work with us, we're going to recommend white hat. If you bring grey hat ideas to us we're going to warn against them. We may team up with you on some of that stuff if you push it, but we'll never ever subscribe to black hat strategies. They're just time bombs waiting to go off.
Michael: Exactly. Friday Confessional, that's our stance.
John: Next week, something that I will put Michael on the spot for. Take care.
Michael: See you.