You will still find plenty of SEO consultants and so called “gurus” admonishing everyone willing to listen that “black hat SEO is bad bad bad” and, more importantly, tantamount to corporate suicide.
Well, for our part we only practice a professional corporate grade of cloaking, and we term our cloaking, “responsible” cloaking in the sense that we only ever create highly optimized content pages, 100% relevant to the core business of the client site.
Cloaking gained a bad wrap a decade back when a page may have used content for, lets say, “laptop computers” but the visitor was redirected to a porn site. Those days are gone. These days its about providing 100% relevant content to ensure that a visitor receives the most accurate search experience.
More importantly, current advanced Cloaking is no longer the spammy deceptive practice of the past. Most SEO link building and article distribution practices of today have become the true spam menace for manipulating results in the SERPs. We do not practice or condone deceptive or misleading redirects and we only use keywords and content, 100% relevant to the business of our clients, so that each visitor is ensured the best possible search experience.
However, Black hat techniques are presented as being despicable, short lived, only temporarily effective at best and subject to heavy penalization (i.e. a “ban”) by the search engines. This take is anything but new – but is it actually correct?
Like most things in life, the entire subject is governed by a slew of different factors, environmental conditions and intentions – a complexity only ill-reflected by simplistic assertions. In other words: it depends. So let’s take a more sober, less excitatory look at some of the most common misconceptions informing the conversation.
Myth 1: Black Hat SEO Isn’t Effective Anymore Because the Search Engines Have Grown Much Smarter Now
If it really were, why are so many people still getting upset about it? This is quite an easy one to counter: do a Google search e.g. for “cheap viagra” and look at the results. Repeat and rinse over a few days (feel free to check out similar spam prone niches) and you’ll get a pretty good indication of what’s actually going on behind the scenes.
Fact is that dumb black hat SEO isn’t as effective anymore as it used to be – but then, neither is white hat SEO. Ranking algorithms, web site architecture, design standards and the online environment as a whole are changing all the time and search engine optimizers, regardless the flavor, have to adapt accordingly.
If people tell you that black hat SEO has lost its clout because the search engines have become ever so much smarter now (something, incidentally, that the likes of Matt Cutts would sooo love you to believe), you can safely bet the farm that they don’t know what they’re talking about in the first place. Simply harping on some old and worn techniques no serious black hat worth her salt would deploy these days anyway is plain daft.
No system is perfect and safe from exploits and the search engines are no exception. If there’s one group of SEOs eminently aware of this fact, it’s the black hats whose daily task is to check and test what will actually work or not.
This makes THEM the cutting edge techies, the real avantgarde of search optimization, and not all those wimpy white hats whose sole idea of actionable SEO is abiding by the search engines’ whimsical (and more often than not outrageously ambiguous) webmaster guidelines.
Myth 2: Black Hat SEO Will Get You Banned by the Search Engines
This is essentially correct in theory, but for one it presupposes getting caught out in the first place; and even then you’ll want to take a long hard look at what will actually get banned i.e. removed from a search engine index.
If you’re deliberately and maliciously spamming the engines to promote your main money site, you may indeed run the risk of seeing it dropped forever, so spamming is nothing anyone in his right mind would ever recommend.
However, that’s not at all what competent black hat SEOs will actually do. Rather, they’ll build and promote massive numbers of web sites, each highly optimized for specific key phrases.
Myth 3: Black Hat SEO Is Poison to Your Corporate Image
This is quite true in general terms – but does it actually apply to your specific business model? If you’re a super duper Fortune 500 company concerned about branding and your public relations standing, you definitely don’t want to be outed for deploying blatant black hat SEO strategies.
(That’s not to say such corporations are beyond resorting to black hat SEO at all for whichever reason. Indeed there’ve been quite a few cases of this being heavily publicized in the past. Of course, the standard method of pursuant damage control is to neatly shift the blame onto some “unethical” SEO agency that was supposedly tasked with their campaigns …)
Most other online businesses, i.e. the vast majority, aren’t into branding and corporate image control at all.
They want to sell products or services, either their own or via affiliate links, and more often than not they’re not into repeat business built on ab immaculate reputation either.
To avoid detection, they can work with an array of different generic sites not tied up in any way to their core business entity – “doing business as” under various names and platforms.
And if such a site does get banned, they’ll simply create a few more or phase in some fallback replacements. (A classic black hat approach, by the way: lose one site and roll out ten more to replace it – see the scalability potential here?
No way your run-of-the-mill white hat setup could ever hope to compete with such an automation driven brute force “mass makes class” approach …)
Myth 4: Black Hat SEO Is No Viable Business Model
That’s like saying “a brick and mortar store is not a defensible business concept anymore”: even the most perfunctory reality check will expose this for the load of bull it actually is.
Because the basic rationale and the maths it prescribes are always the same: conduct a realistic risk-to-gain analysis, measure it against the resources actually at your disposal and work it out from there.
Myth 5: Black Hat SEO Strategies Can Only Achieve Short Lived, Temporary Results
Some will, some won’t. As they say, there’s many ways to skin a cat, and black hat SEO techniques and strategies tend to vary wildly.
Much of this is determined by the specific niche you’re targeting – how competitive and fast moving it is, what kind of resources you are willing and capable of throwing at it, etc.
We have had Shadow Domains™ (entirely driven by cloaking or IP delivery) out there that have been merrily monetizing for many years without a single hitch. So this particular view of things is really entirely beside the mark.
Myth 6: Black Hat SEO Can Only Fool Dumb Machines But Not Highly Trained Human Search Engine Staff
Here’s where it gets really interesting in our view. Google have ramped up their editorial staff, having learned the hard way that fending off “search engine spam” cannot be done effectively in any reliable manner via automated algorithms alone.
And while all such human labor intense efforts do not scale easily, making for a lot of un-monitored niches even now, today’s search engine optimizer does have to factor in manual reviews by human editorial staff nevertheless.
The most obvious solution here is automated generation of quality content: content that is human readable and grammatically correct, that is 100% unique, that makes sense to read and that features no footprints shouting “autogenned”.
In short, it must be able to pass human editorial muster.
These requirements will rule out markoved or scraped-and-shuffled content which has indeed lost a lot of its efficacy, even though it can still be deployed to great advantage within specific scenarios.
It also precludes the use of automatic synonymizers and similar commonly available automatic article rewriting software, none of which has mastered the required degree of linguistic sophistication to date.
Note: At Fantomaster Inc., we only offer fully managed customized cloaking 2.0 campaign projects for corporate clients. We do NOT offer any other blackhat services of any kind. We also do not practice or condone deceptive or misleading cloaking. We will only cloak client sites or Facebook FanPages within the specific client business niche parameters to ensure that visitors obtain the best targeted and relevant quality search experience.