Jun 17, 2011
Having said that, there are definite reasons for choosing to go 100% white hat and doing so will surely pay massive dividends every time. Here’s why:
- There’s always a better way to spend that time + money. Spam isn’t free or easy, despite the image some black hats portray. When I hear about the actual costs and time commitments black hats invest, I’m blown away. For not much more time, and often less money, those same businesses and sites could invest in long-term, high value white hat tactics. Many just lack the creativity and willingness to do the hard work, others are seduced by the quick win or ignorant of the options available to them.
- White hat builds exciting companies, spam doesn’t. With a very small number of exceptions, spam doesn’t build exciting, scalable, long-term companies. It creates relatively small amounts of temporary wealth. If you’re unwilling to trade short term gains for long term success, you’re probably hurting the online ecosystem – none of us should endorse that behavior.
- White hat rankings can be shared. That means never having to sweat hiding dirty secrets, protecting your tactics or link sources, jumping through hoops to keep your footprint anonymous or refraining from showing off your site. The benefits of transparency improve your ability to do PR, branding, networking and all of those, in turn, help SEO.
- Spam always carries risk. Whether it’s tomorrow, next month or 3 years from now before you’re knocked out of the search engines, it will happen. You can invest in multiple sites and tactics, shore up defenses and build anonymity to hide your online profile, but honestly, if you applied that creativity and effort to white hat…. Just saying.
- You’re renting rankings rather than buying them. Devaluation of spam tactics means you have to stay one step ahead of the engines, and can never spend a week free from sweating what will and won’t be found. White hat may take longer, but, if done right, it can build an unassailable position of strength long term.
- Reliability in the spam world sucks. The people who sell spammy links or offer spam services are nearly always fly-by-night operations, moving from one business model to the next. Spammers are almost never long-term operators.
- Any victory is a hollow one. I don’t just mean in a touchy-feely way, I mean that no matter how many times you rank well with spam or how much you make, it’s just money (and often far too little to sustain you, meaning you’ve got to go do more tomorrow). You’re not building something real, long-lasting and sustainable and you’re rarely fulfilling any of the other requirements for job satisfaction or happiness.
- The money’s not that good. Ask yourself who the most prolific, talented, high profile spammers are in the world. I can name a good dozen or so and none of them are retired, only a few are millionaires and not a one, to my knowledge, has done 8 figures.
- There is legal danger. I hesitate to bring this up because some folks in the search sphere have over-emphasized this danger. However, the FTC, the British government and the EU all have regulations about disclosure of interests, and a lot of link buying and link spamming behavior violates these guidelines. We’ve yet to see serious enforcement, but personally, I have no tolerance for risk of this kind, and I suspect many others don’t either.
- Spam never builds value in multiple channels. What I love about the inbound/organic marketing philosophy is how it builds a site that attracts authentic traffic from hundreds of sources, often without any additional work. Spamming your way to a #1 ranking might send search traffic, but if the web shifts to Facebook/Twitter or if email marketing becomes the biggest tactic in your niche, or if a competitor wins purely on branding and branded search, you’re up a creek. You’ve built nothing of real value – nothing to make people come back and share and like, +1, tweet, link, email, stumble, vote for, shout to the heavens about. Spam builds a shell of a marketing strategy; one crack and it’s all over.