Black Hat / White Hat SEO Session at SES San Jose

Black Hat SEO Session at SES San Jose
Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

The SEO session here at SES San Jose is packed as everybody struggles to get competitive advantage, though I’m concerned that even some fairly advanced SEO folks simply don’t understand how seriously they may damage their clients or sites with a number of techniques that are no longer tolerated by Google.

Jill’s making an excellent point about “incompetent SEO” who, in her words…suck. I think she’s right that there are a lot of very bad folks doing SEO – I’d suggest about 90% or more.

Boser – the sites that rank are the ones that put in the effort. He says that you could generally replace the top sites with any others wihout bothering users.

Boser: buying links remains a key tactic for competive markets.

Naylor: Common mistakes are from within the organization where their link buying goes over the thresholds. Good black hats “know the threshholds” at which the search engine will identify link buying problems.

Disagreement (hey, cool) Jill’s Whalen suggesting good SEO is simply common sense, Todd Friesen suggesting it’s not. Jill says it’s not about tricking the engines.

Boser: Must compete now, so using paid links to get the clients going is both acceptable and needed.

Widget marketing – ?

SEO Champion question: He’s angry but not clear why – some conflict with Greg Boser over SEO stuff.

Boser: Links are about blending in to your niche. Hotels dominated by aggressive search spam for years – a tough industry. Hard in those space to follow the rules and compete.

Bruce Clay: Doing things that are way out of bounds is much riskier for established sites. You can’t afford to burn your own house so consider these risks.

BMW: Burned themselves buying links for short time. Greg – less consequence for the big players. WordPress also got a hand slap for link abuses. [ yes, but if we use a “user quality” metric we’d expect big players to have fewer consequence rather than severe punishment].

Matt Cutts from Google (audience). We take action on a lot of big sites. Some panel argument with Matt here about how fairly Google applies the rules. Boser: Forbes is spamming – why no action?

Naylor: Legal site in UK. Restoration involved identifying the paid links that a company representative had purchased. Google found them in 4 months and banned the site.

Audience question: What about the user – isn’t their interest the best definition of white vs black hat? Todd may not understand what she means here, he’s noting that outright deception is out. But I think her question is more nuanced and the answer is generally yes. Naylor’s correctly noting that users may not care much if they get site A or site B, and that is often true.

Made for Adsense sites: Boser – it’s crap, and includes a lot of blogging content. [This topic is so complicated – I’m always amazed how everybody thinks that they know crappy from good content. I think you need to ask communities about what they want, and trust their judgement. I think Google is moving in that direction and it’s a good thing.  What if somebody has a fabulous site, better than competition, that is made for adsense?   Where is the line?]  Answer – community judgement.

SES Session Description:

Searcher Track
Black Hat, White Hat: Playing Dirty with SEO

Some say that “black hat” search marketers will do anything to gain a top ranking and others argue that even “white hat” marketers who embrace ethical search engine optimization practices are ultimately trying to game the search ranking system. Are white hats being naive? Are black hats failing to see the long-term picture? This session will include an exploration of the latest black and white issues, with lots of time for dialog and discussion.

Matthew Bailey, President, SiteLogic

Greg Boser, President, WebGuerrilla LLC

10 thoughts on “Black Hat / White Hat SEO Session at SES San Jose

  1. There was a cartoon long ago about two bums sitting on a park bench and the caption read “I was thinking of becoming a career counselor”.

    Perhaps the same cartoon can be re-cycled but the caption changed to one bum telling the other he was considering becoming a Search Optimization Expert.

  2. In another update for the cartoon, one bum tells the other, “I read some stuff online about how to get rich by putting Ad Sense on my blog…….”

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