A lot of people wonder: if Black Hat techniques are so prevalent, is it because they are effective? No, it’s because they are easy for the companies that provide them, and the profit margin is really high.
Most of what constitutes Black Hat search engine marketing involves one of two overall business models:
- simply dropping your URL (your web site address) into a bot (piece of automated software) that takes care of the rest with very little human interaction
- having low paid foreign workers do the same work as a bot, so they can work around some of the SPAM-blocking capabilities of various web sites
Either method is the lazy man’s business in a box for gullible site owners who think the internet cannot be understood except by technical gurus (we call this the Myth of Technical Wizardry), and would rather throw money at any charlatan in the hopes of reaping some benefit.
But is it effective? Often the results consist merely of statistics – we created this many links, and this link detector shows that the number of links you have went up – it doesn’t mean they are high quality links (the kind likely to help in search engines), that they are “sticky” (will last very long), or will bring you any quality traffic at all (people who actually want to buy your services or products). Other times, you do get a slight bump, just from the sheer volume of the blitz, but that spike is also detected by Google and other search engines, and it can easily get your site penalized, especially when webmasters start flagging those links as SPAM links.
In the long run (or even the medium run), no, Black Hat is not usually very effective, though there are a number of motivational types making good money telling people it’s easy to get rich that way. Of course, if that were true, they’d be doing it instead of nobly giving seminars and writing books on how effective it is. It’s true, their sites get phenomenal traffic – here’s the secret – we’re going to out them on this one: They do phenomenal traffic from people like you (or I) who want to believe in what they’re selling. They’re very highly placed for their powerhouse techniques, just as some people are well placed for sites promising to make parts of your anatomy larger. They thrive on the very gullibility and desire for incredibly effective lazy methods that they are selling.
The clincher is this – do you really believe your average client has the intelligence of a nematode? Do you think that they respond automatically, when some technological cowbell is run, and come in automatonic waves to web sites to buy whatever they are told to buy? Here’s the answer – the only companies with clients like that are the ones selling Black Hat SEM techniques. In other words, if that’s you, it isn’t your clients who are so easily fooled – it’s the guy in the mirror. And the sad part, is you may be deeply hurting your own business reputation, your potential to do well in search engines for a long time to come, and your presence in the new social web which depends, to a certain degree, on mutual respect.
One of the questions we sometimes ask new clients is “have you done anything to taint yourself in search engines and social media or with your marketing audience – have you taken any badly advised marketing shortcuts?” One of my family members is a high end hair stylist – sometimes people come to her with burned, orange, depleted hair that has long-term damage from hard water, elements, medications, etc. She tells them that it’s not the same as starting with virgin hair – if you’ve scorched some earth, you can start repairing it, but be prepared for challenges. It’s the same with your marketing. Don’t shrug and say, “It’s only $199 for guaranteed unbeatable results”, and think that if it doesn’t work, you didn’t risk all that much – what you’re risking is your business itself.
That’s the straight talk. Good luck. Let us know if we can help.