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I have no qualms about “tricking” Google.

Rewind time to when search engines were a fresh idea, and many people thought they themselves were unethical. Search engines are not invited to sites. They copy/cache content, and do whatever they can to profit from this content they were never asked to access.
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from Jill 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 1

This is another really good post by SSS. I like how he doesn’t make excuses, but takes his chances and doesn’t whine if/when his techniques are caught and banned. He takes his lumps and then figures out the latest loophole in the algo, and makes new sites accordingly.Since he’s doing this for himself and in presumably in highly competitive industries, more power to him. (Not bad for a kid either, I must say!)

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from SlightlyShadySEO 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Thanks for the kind words Jill :-)And thanks to search engine people for letting me post over there.

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from jeffquipp 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Awesome post SSS ... another one outta the park!

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from Ruud 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

SSS, thank *you* for accepting the guest post invite!Agreed, Jill, SSS is "on the level" when it comes to his game. He’s also one of the rare BH’s (at least that I know of...) that blog not only so openly but so thoroughly about the game.I mark a lot of stuff "read" in my feed reader because I know it will come around again or is SSDD (thanks Stephen King :) but SSS’s feed is one I make sure to check, to monitor.

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from Lid 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Excellent post.  Thanks for having the courage to say what a lot of us think :)

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from mphung 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

BRAVO! Wish more people would publicly challenge this weird notion that the color of your SEO hat has anything to do with ethics/morality.

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from neyne 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

this guy simply rocks! This should be obligatory reading.

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from Kimota 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Excellent post that adds to the debate quite clearly.My view on ’ethics’ and morals in SEO has primarily been the question of how we work with clients so SSS made an important distinction by removing that aspect first. When taking the decision to be black hat on your own site, the risks etc are all your own which is where they should be. It’s then up to Google to find you.But my issue with ’ethics’ recently has been more to do with the wider issue of producing content to trick Google that has far worse consequences than merely humbing the nose at the webmaster guidelines. Where the effects go way beyond Google. That’s why I was glad to agree with some others  that the recent linkbait hoax didn’t count as black hat as it falls into a different category entirely. Now that’s a question of ethics far moreso than white or black hats.

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from yojpotter2 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Great insights on blackhat SEO..^^

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from brian 2245 Days ago #
Votes: -2

The Google end-user is not represented in the article, so I’m desphinning on this major oversight.  It might be convenient to call it ’you vs. Google,’ but I see it as ’you vs. the Google end-user.’  And if you’re also a Google search user, you have to reconcile that within yourself. :)

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from SlightlyShadySEO 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Brian: The end user is not represented in this because there’s dozens and dozens of possible tactics, all of which affect the end user experience differently. For example I have some sites that actually have good content, and promoted blackhat. Do those damage the "user experience"?Or for cloaking sites for example. It is in my best interest to send them where they want to go. That is how I make sales. I’m not going to promote "Princess Jasmine" pages and send them to a page about pillows. That’s a waste of my effort for inbound links, and will result in no sales.Actually, my cloaking sites analyze the user’s request and redirect them to different pages based on their search.So for a weightloss site, something involving the words "rapid, fast, quick, soon" may go to a diet product specializing in fast weight loss. "organic, natural, holistic" may go to an herbal product.But beyond that, and most importantly: Our job as SEOs, no matter how we sugar coat it, is to rank sites. Sites that may, or may not deserve their rankings. The entire process of linkbuilding is a manipulation. Your argument seems to be more of an argument against SEO in general than blackhat. We’re both trying to send the user where they want to go, just using different tactics to achieve this.However, as always, your comment is appreciated. Even if I disagree ;-)

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from neyne 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"But beyond that, and most importantly: Our job as SEOs, no matter how we sugar coat it, is to rank sites. Sites that may, or may not deserve their rankings. The entire process of linkbuilding is a manipulation. Your argument seems to be more of an argument against SEO in general than blackhat."That is an extremely important point, seemingly lost on many, many people. People really do sugarcoat this point because they do not like to think of themselves as manipulating the SERPs, but anyone who has ever done a link exchange or asked for a link has tried to manipulate SERPs. Yes, SEOs do help Google index the web in some cases, but that is not all we do...How many of you would refuse a client that has all of his pages indexed, all of his titles and content optimized, claiming that "according to Google, you are ranked where you deserve to be"?We are the PR people for our client’s websites, which intrinsically means that we are increasing the exposure they would naturaly get, ie. we are doing some kind of manipulation. The reasons for not needing to feel bad about it are clearly explained in SSS’s article.

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from rhcerff 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@ neyne: exactly!  By doing SEO you are manipulating the results.  You are gaming the system!Some techniques are frowned upon some not.  But as those are constantly changing even sites that believe they are sticking to the rules are occasionally penalized for cheating.

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from sza 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"The Google end-user is not represented in the article"As long as Google penalizes sites by not letting them rank for their own name (thus Google hurting the relevancy that particular SERP deliberately), Brian White, Matt Cutts or any other Googler mentioning the "end-user" or "user experience" as an argument is a bullshitting hypocrite.The end-user ceases to matter for Google the minute they feel like playing their childish punishment games for their own pleasure.

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from mpilatow 2245 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Yeah, the end user argument is just not valid. If the site does not provide a good end user experience it is not going to be profitable. Good black hats use different techniques than white hats but the ultimate goal is the same. To make more money whether it is through an affiliate program or a direct sale from the site. Wikipedia uses White Hat SEO but there are sites with much better and more accurate content that can’t be found because they apply no SEO (or it is not as good). You could argue that Wikipedia offers a poor user experience because of the questionable nature of some of their content. Just because they get the ranking from white hat techniques does not make them any more ethical than the black hat sending users to the content they want through a different technique.

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from brian 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I wouldn’t be so comfortable tethering black hat techniques with general SEO.  Using a cycling analogy, a cycling trainer might object when a blood doping specialist says "we’re doing the same thing, we’re trying to get the cyclist a win and the fans what they want."  Which technically may be true, and a small subset of happy fans of the blood doping cyclist may not care.  However the average fan cares about the integrity of the sport enough to support kicking blood dopers to the curb.  So do the trainers who play by the rules, for that matter.

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from Chris1 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"Yeah, the end user argument is just not valid. If the site does not provide a good end user experience it is not going to be profitable."I disagree.  Arbitrage sites are profitable but provide poor user experience.  MFA sites with scraped content can be profitable.  Sites promising "Free iPods" and such can be profitable but be a lowsy user experience for for 95% of users.  Tons of scam sites can be profitable that provide horrible user experiences.An arbitrage site with porn affiliate links scattered amongst AdSense ads might be more profitable than a Wikipedia page, but which is providing the better experience to end users?

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from neyne 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Using a cycling analogy, a cycling trainer might object when a blood doping specialist says "we’re doing the same thing, we’re trying to get the cyclist a win and the fans what they want."I don’t think the analogy is valid. cycling is a sport and its purpose (besides entertainment) is to match up different competitors in order to see who is a better cyclist. Cheating through doping goes against that core princpile of sports.If i go with your analogy, using black hat techniques is like investing your time and resources in developing a faster bike, rather than trying to improve the performances of the biker... and I believe that if you want to be Lance Armstrong, you have to both train very hard (white hat) and maximize the technical performances of your bike (blackhat)

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from Kimota 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Brian I was about to make more or less exactly the same analogy - Olympic doping.Neyne, developing a faster bike isn’t against the rules of the sport though so can’t be called black hat. Sporting rules are not rules that apply to all bikes, but merely rules that apply to people wanting to compete in that particular race, just like websites want to compete in Google.In fact, let’s improve the analogy by removing the bike entirely. It’s now the 100 metre sprint. Marion Jones was the champ, but was found to have achieved her performance through methods not endorsed by the Olympic body. Is she fastest? Of course. Can she still go out running whenever she wants and take whatever she wants? Of course. Will she still beat you and me in a race? Definitely. Can she run in the Olympics again? Absolutely not.Black hat is the same. You take your risk of getting caught and penalised or banned from the sport.this is why I don’t agree with the argument that all SEOs manipulate SERPS so shouldn’t whinge about black hat tactics. White hats are merely training their body and optimising their running technique. If all websites did this, it would be a far more relevant collection of results and a far leveller playing field.But just as in sport, my refusal to ’dope up’ my websites doesn’t mean others won’t continue to do so and it’s not up to me to test them and expose them. The Olympic body will instead. Yet, just as weight lifting now has an unshakeable reputation of steroid abuse, despite rigourous testing, back hat techniques become associated with the wider ’sport’ of SEO.

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from SlightlyShadySEO 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 2

@Kimota: When you sign up for the olympics or any race, you agree to compete by a given set of rules. I never agreed to Google’s rules, and never asked them to index my site. If you were descended upon in the night by the olympic committee, and taken to the race by force, would you worry about the rules as much?No. An important part of allegiance to the rules is signing up to compete in the first place.

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from sza 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"White hats are merely training their body and optimising their running technique."I’m afraid that’s a false analogy.In a perfect world, the most able athlete should win a sporting event. In a perfect search engine, the most relevant site should win.But keep in mind that relevancy is not defined by a good title tag, a good description tag, a well-optimized copy or high-quality incoming links with useful anchor text -- the hallmarks of white hat. True relevancy is content that’s outstandingly useful for the visitor. With or without the above-mentioned things. (Though obviously, there is some overlap.)The guy training his body and optimizing his running technique, as mentioned by you, is actually the guy who’s constantly improving the content and usability of his site. Not the guy who does optimization with Google in mind.The minute you’re involved in any kind of SE optimization, you’re trying to influence the jury (in this case, Google), and that’s not part of the spirit of the sport.(A much better sporting analogy would be figure skating, with a mostly professional, but inescapably biased evaluation method.)---Another questionable implication is the notion that Google’s SERP is part of the common good (like a clean street, a modern school, or a fair sporting event) whose protection is a common moral obligation.In fact, that SERP is but the extremely efficient profit-making vehicle of a company. Even if the company’s interest happens to be in alignment with the interest of its users (manipulation-free results), that won’t place any moral burden on anybody who has different interests and stays within the law. (I’m obviously not talking about malware sites here, just the guy who tries to rank his shit above other people’s...)As SSS correctly states, those rules are not binding anybody in any way -- neither ethically/morally, nor legally.

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from Kimota 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 0

SSS - I see your point. As I’ve said before, if your intention is not to appear in Google, then everything is cushty, as they say, and Google’s guidelines are not relevant to you. But if your intention IS to appear strongly in Google, then your agreement is implicit. You’ve not been forced into the race, you chose to be part of it, knowing the rules were in place, just as Marion Jones knew the rules were in place when she chose to run.And it is Google’s right to set the rules in their own house. They don’t tell people how to present their websites to appear in Yahoo or prescribe any other kind of webmaster behaviour except for that which has a direct relevance on the Google ’race’. It’s their race, therefore their rules. If you don’t agree, no one is forcing you into their race and you can choose to rely on getting traffic through other means.If your argument is that somehow Google is forcing you to be part of their race, I would have to disagree. Just because they are now the biggest race in town (just like the Olympics) doesn’t mean they should abandon rules. That would be like saying that Microsoft should remove all restrictions on their software purely because they are a near monopoly.I see what you are saying, but Google doesn’t force anyone to do anything.

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from SlightlyShadySEO 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 0

1)My intent is obviously to appear to Google, I won’t argue that. But the company is going to profit off of what I do on my server regardless of what I do. I see little issue with trying to make as much as possible off of it if they’re doing the same. It might be a "sinking to their level" thing, but I’m alright with that.Let me create a variation on Marion Jones then. If she knew she was going to be forced to race whether she volunteered or not, and that others were going to profit off of her the same amount no matter what she did, would she not be justified in doing whatever possible to try and grab a chunk of that for herself? If she’s going to be exploited for anothers benefit, why try and profit herself? And does she owe anything to the people who would’ve forced her to race either way?If I was her, I would do whatever was necessary to win the race(rank high) so that I could get something out of the ordeal, but that doesn’t mean I’d feel loyalty to those who would’ve profit off me either way2)Google can set the rules in their own house. And they’re free to ban me from the race, and they will never hear a bit of resentment from me(except in a joking context perhaps). I’m not arguing that blackhat should be allowed by Google. Merely thet they perhaps brought it on themselves with constantly changing rules, and that their not allowing blackhat has no impact on personal morality.Let me ask a question. Given NYT, and Youtube’s ability to cloak, and the blatant doorway pages had by sites with large advertising budgets, is it really cheating? For example, what if the people in charge of the olympics allowed the 2 top runners to use shoes that were banned for everyone else. Would it the be unethical to level the playing field?

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from Kimota 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Actually, thse debates do happen in the Olympics. There was that controversy not long ago about certain swimmers receiving scientifically designed new swimsuits by their sponsors that put them at a distinct advantage over those swimmers without.So yes, the Olympics and Google both have problems in the way they regulate their respective races that impact on the level playing field and yes, both bodies profit off the achievements of others, but that wouldn’t convince me that I should then start doping up.I guess this is the cringeworthy moment coming up here, so reach for a bucket now.Many athletes compete at the Olympics knowing that it isn’t perfect. They know the ice-skating judges can be swayed by politics or rivalries. They know sponsorships can provide better equipment to one athlete over another. But they still compete and fiercely defend their belief that they should do so without drugs or cheating because they believe in the Olympic ’ideal’. They know it’s not perfect, but perfection is never going to happen. Therefore, they try to maintain pride and honesty in their own corner to at least preserve an aspiration to that ideal. Google also has an aspirational ideal - to serve users with the best and most relevant content in the quickest and easiest way. We all know that Google is sometimes the problem in this just as much as webmasters, but some of us still want to believe in the ideal even if it may not be entirely true in practice because of the overriding reality of running a business and making money, just like the Olympics. To take that ideal away removes one of the staple values on which the internet was founded - equal access to information for all. If the Olympic ideal were to disappear, every race would lose any value to the spectators and the athletes. What’s the point of racing if you cannot say with certainty that you were the fastest when you win?And, as I can sense my arguments getting more long winded and nonsensical the more tired I become, I’m off to bed.

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from Chris1 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Shady, you honestly don’t see the difference between the NYT/YouTube and the sites that you’re creating with these types of tools? http://www.slightlyshadyseo.com/index.php/new-shadygenv20b-site-generator-almost-completed/Have you ever considered ditching your BH tactics and concentrating all or most of your energy on Web sites and businesses that add value for users?  You are clearly a brilliant kid, with a ton of talent, ambition and potential.  I would guess that in the long run, you could probably make more money putting your talents to use for more legitimate work.  Especially since Google or whoever else in the future will be doing all they can to make it harder for BH sites to get and monetize traffic.For me, it would be so much more rewarding to use those talents you have to contribute positively to the Internet community rather than for BH tactics like scraping content, cloaking sites, autogenerating gibberish web pages, manipulating search rankings, spamming and teaching people how to exploit the system for their own benefit to the detriment of everyone else.

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from DarkMatter 2244 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@chrishe will not only make far more money with blackhat, but if he ever goes whitehat he’ll be much more effective than a whitehat who doesn’t have the in-depth knowledge of search algorithms that he has.

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from g1smd 2243 Days ago #
Votes: 0

***  Actually, my cloaking sites analyze the user’s request and redirect them to different pages based on their search.  So for a weightloss site, something involving the words "rapid, fast, quick, soon" may go to a diet product specializing in fast weight loss. "organic, natural, holistic" may go to an herbal product.   ***Eh?  But why bother with all that fuss?  Pages with different content would each rank for different phrases. If each of those is better optimised, the user already lands on the right page without needing to be bounced around the site.  

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from Jill 2243 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Chris1 said:Have you ever considered ditching your BH tactics and concentrating all or most of your energy on Web sites and businesses that add value for users? What SSS is currently doing is a right of passage for any young programming type who gets into SEO, just like Bruce, Oilman, and Boser before him, I predict that if SSS stays in the SEO game, he will eventually turn corporate legit cuz it’s way easier and still fun.

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from brian 1842 Days ago #
Votes: 0

As I’m about to comment, the end user is not mentioned at all.

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