A Black Hat Loses Everything & Thanks Matt Cutts For Improving Search Results

May 2, 2014 • 9:09 am | comments (40) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google cloakingSebastian Johnsson, a self proclaimed grey/black hat wrote an incredibly interesting story on his blog on how he started getting into the black/gray hat world of SEO, made a ton of money doing so and then all of a sudden lost everything.

He gives an overview of what he did but more interestingly he describes how his competitor tracked all his efforts down and brought it to the attention of Google's Matt Cutts. Even more interesting is that the competitors, despite one wiping out the other's business, respect each other. And to take it even one more step, the one that lost his business, thanked Google's Matt Cutts for improving the search results.

I cannot sum up the whole story here, you should read it at his blog.

But let's just focus on the last part.

Matt Cutts of Google mentions he liked the blog post and how they deal with each other as competitors:

Sebastian then says he appreciates the cleaner, less-spammy search results despite the fact that it was his spam and his earnings:

Then Matt Cutts pushes the agenda of encouraging people away from black hat and spam:

The whole thing, to me, is very fascinating.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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05/02/2014 01:19 pm

What a Classy cat. Respect! Something that seems to have disappeared amongst those online... and in our industry. :/


05/02/2014 01:21 pm

@SebastianJ just wanted to say this was an interesting post, especially where you and Simon both try to put aside any bad feelings. http://sn.im/28vcf12


05/02/2014 02:34 pm

Many organisations hire hackers in order to test their encryption methods to their limits. Similarly; the relationship between black-hat SEOs and Google's search results is far more symbiotic than anyone seems to realise. Very interesting read.


05/02/2014 02:47 pm

How many white-hat small business owners are thanking Cutts for killing their business?


05/02/2014 03:32 pm

How does Matt's reply: "@SebastianJ lots of people send me interesting reads. If you do decide to leave affiliate behind to build something new, hope it goes well." = warning people from being black hat and spammers? I'm sorry, it's Affiliate Marketing. Spamming and Black Hat techniques are tactics that one can use in any type of online marketing endeavors but are not specific to Affiliate Marketing. In Cutts' reply posted within this article he says nothing about Black Hat or Spammers. The G Agenda is deep.

Durant Imboden

05/02/2014 04:59 pm

Google has never made any secret of its disdain for "thin affiliate" sites.


05/02/2014 05:07 pm

Mutt is his hoodie...


05/02/2014 05:16 pm

... Then google should put its official stance in the webmaster guidelines... Until then it is very shadey and dishonest behavior from Google.

Durant Imboden

05/02/2014 05:26 pm



05/02/2014 05:32 pm

"Participating in affiliate programs >>> without adding sufficient value

Durant Imboden

05/02/2014 05:40 pm

Yep. And I suspect that SEO tactics don't count as "sufficient value" in Google's eyes.


05/02/2014 05:43 pm

I guess unique content doesn't either.

Durant Imboden

05/02/2014 05:50 pm

Unique and *useful* content does. Read the guidelines.


05/02/2014 05:57 pm

Stand-by the guidelines will change again soon once Google identifies another tactic that it cannot stop.


05/02/2014 06:03 pm

LOL... Good thing Google defines terms like "useful" and "sufficient value" so clearly... I was unaware that Google's algorithms could accurately assess content's "usefulness"

Durant Imboden

05/02/2014 06:07 pm

From Google's Webmaster Guidelines: "These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here. It's not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn't included on this page, Google approves of it. Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit." Seems pretty clear to me.


05/02/2014 06:09 pm

Yup... most blank checks are pretty easy to read...

Aravind Seo

05/03/2014 10:06 am

Im really amazing what is the tool to check competitors A-Z seo works ?


05/03/2014 12:23 pm

please help me and please ask ho to improve my website in google because my website all keyword drop in google please i request ans me.

Patti Paz

05/03/2014 04:12 pm

Does ANYONE really, truly believe all this???? Thanking Google for putting them out of business . . . . Come on - get real.

Sebastian Johnsson

05/03/2014 09:35 pm

Hey, Seb here (who wrote the post). Patti: Of course I'm not really happy about seeing everything get penalized. Not all of the stuff I did was entirely black hat and a lot of my sites that just slightly used some grey hat methods (similar to the methods 95% of the competitors in this niche also used) also got penalized. But the thing is that there's no reason to dwell on the past. My stuff got penalized and I just gotta roll with the punches and move on. Yes, getting penalized sucks. But at the same time Google clearly showed that they at least try to make the index better - that's something I definitely consider to be positive (despite the fact that I was the one getting penalized). There has been a lot of spam in this specific niche (that also have been penalized before) so they're definitely trying to improve the situation. Right now it was for the worse for me, but it'll probably be for the better when I decide to move on to strictly White Hat projects.


05/04/2014 05:08 am

What in the hell is going on? Enough of this passive aggressive bull. Wake up Sebastian. It is time to get out of the denial phase.

whois Bid

05/04/2014 03:18 pm

Google can't tell much about a company and its website right now but I am sure they should have plans to do this. There are millions of legitimate business and website owners who run good companies with better products and services but they've been marginalised by google search. The Google + verified business badge on your google+ page seems like a great idea where a google employee has to actually verify who you are. Problem is, you need very educated people with lots of experience to filter out the ones who are trying to exploit that. This costs time and money. Google could build an excellent directory of businesses in the world unless someone beats them to it.

Jitendra Vaswani

05/05/2014 05:16 am


Jitendra Vaswani

05/05/2014 05:18 am

Durant Affiliate Links can be dofollow or nofollow ? Some bloggers using dofollow affiliates links, is it good practice


05/05/2014 06:54 am

Trust badges have failed to inspire trust for over a decade now... I don't see how it helps businesses at all...

Roman M

05/05/2014 09:40 am



05/05/2014 10:23 am

looks like google start paying to blackhatters to improve "google face".


05/05/2014 10:24 am

google showed what you can do white hat or black hat site, or no seo/no promotion site and will be penalized at all cases.


05/05/2014 10:26 am

google itself, is "thin affiliate" site and violate google guideliness (as content scrapper/images stealing engine).


05/05/2014 10:30 am

seems they trying to tell us something about their high moral, when they not have it. I not see REAL examples which confirm their words, however, i see lot of examples which show what they doing everything to pleasure their greed.

Durant Imboden

05/05/2014 01:40 pm

Matt Cutts has said that Google is "pretty good at recognizing affiliate links," so you probably don't have to nofollow them, although I do to be on the safe side.


05/05/2014 02:04 pm

Obamas "other son"


05/05/2014 09:03 pm

Barry, how can we take your column seriously after your recent whitewash of the AdSense scandal and now this? Seriously -- "Thanks Matt Cutts" in the headline? As a reporter, why not stop being so partisan? How about some solutions? Why were some of my prior comments removed from here, Barry? No other site is removing them. What's that all about?

Barry Schwartz

05/05/2014 09:07 pm

If you say so.

Patti Paz

05/07/2014 11:42 am

Thanks, but I don't buy it. I smell a rat somewhere. As sometimes written, 'the truth shall set you free' . . . A tiger cannot change his stripes.

Gracious Store

05/10/2014 04:18 am

This is a credit to Cutts for a black/gray hat SEO to thank Google for importing the quality of search results

Simon Nyström

05/16/2014 11:07 am

I am the one behind this "spam finding tool". If you want my story, without beefs, you got a quite long post about the way I like to work. I added a white hat just to make people annoyed. Sorry. :) http://simonnystrom.com/how-i-successfully-dominated-payday-loans-with-the-white-hat-on/

Simon Nyström

05/16/2014 11:07 am

I am behind this tool. I have written about the whole project here: http://simonnystrom.com/how-i-successfully-dominated-payday-loans-with-the-white-hat-on/

Aravind Seo

07/02/2014 04:36 am

I had a doubt simon if there is duplicate descriptions and duplicate meta titles in WMT. will it leads to manual penalty by google algorithm ?

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