Why Does Anyone Choose Black Hat SEO?

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It would be silly to write posts on this site and be all high and mighty about black hat SEO practices.  The truth is black hat SEO works or else it wouldn’t even be an issue.  And people employing black hat SEO tricks aren’t all done by spammers who send out countless emails about how to improve your…I’m not even going to finish that sentence.  So let’s look at black hat SEO with a more reasonable eye and not just make blanket statements like black hat = bad.  I’m not advocating black hat practices, just outlining why people do it.

First off, why do black hat tactics even work?  Why do people even risk a banning by using these strategies?  One, because banning is not as bad as you think.  If you scrub the site of the bannable offense, the site can be listed again.  Of course, this is a drawn out process that can lead to months of down time and lost profits, but banning isn’t necessarily permanent, as some believe.  However, committing bannable offenses again and again could lead to a stricter ban.  But for many the rewards outweigh the risk, especially if a ban can be overcome.  Many black hatters just cut their losses and move on to create a new site.

More importantly is the fact that black hat tactics often do not get caught by search engines.  Black hat practices are sort of like viruses – but in a way more resistant.  New strains of viruses come on the scene and new virus definitions are written.  New viruses are caught a lot faster than new “strains” of black hat techniques.  The internet is gigantic and so scrubbing the web is automated.  Search engine spiders aren’t that quick witted, and by the time a spider’s algorithm is re-written to catch a new black hat practice, a site could be changed.

Spiders Just Aren’t That Smart

A search engine is only viewed by a human checker when a spider makes an alert that there has been a problem.  There is no other way to gauge sites because the internet is nearly infinite: new sites are coming on board every day.  It is possible – if not probable – that search engine spiders become A LOT smarter.  Search engine spiders could learn as they go and self-correct.  That’s the next wave of artificial intelligence, but it’s a far cry from how search engine spiders work today.

What this means is that there’s a fairly large window for when a loophole is found and it can be exploited.  If a spider could say to itself – wait, that doesn’t look right, I’m sending this to headquarters – then that would be one thing.  But currently spiders are crawling the web using yesterday’s definitions of bad behavior.  This gives black hatters the time to exploit a loophole and scrub a site when that loophole has been closed.

In addition, spiders aren’t that thorough.  Though Google may seem all-powerful, the God of cyberspace, there just isn’t enough computational power for spiders to scan every site down to the last bracket.  As mentioned, the internet is huge and only getting larger and more complex.  Spiders can’t necessarily keep up.  This means that certain aspects of a page might be entirely passed over by a spider – hence, the possibility of a loophole.

Short Term Search Engine Marketing

What this should all tell you is that black hat marketing is all about the short term.  It also means that the marketer has to keep a pretty steady eye on developments in the industry.  Has the algorithm changed?  Are sites starting to get banned?  Black hat marketers are also pretty spread across a host of micro-sites, like a superaffiliate, rather than putting all their eggs in one basket.  So if they’re caught in one domain, they just set up shop somewhere else.  It’s a case of the marketer trying to always stay one step ahead of the law.

I feel sort of like I’ve given the pro-black hat manifesto here.  That wasn’t my intention.  For people who have heard the term black hat and wonder why people would be so risky with a marketing plan, these are some of the reasons.  A black hatter has a certain type of personality profile: a bit anti-establishment, a person who wants to outsmart the big guns at Google and other search engines.  A little bit of a hacker mindset.

If you’re not a big risk taker – or you’d rather just add content, trade some links, and not worry about the repercussions – then black hat SEO is not a good option.  This is especially true for those site owners who set up one major domain and work their heart out trying to market it.  If that site goes down, the whole business might be taken down with it, so it’s not really an option for those looking at the big, long-term picture for a site.  As time goes on, my bet’s on Google shrinking the window of viability for black hat techniques, but currently black hatters are comfortable with taking the risk.

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