Black Hat, White Hat, and Lots of Gray � White Hat Edition

Dec 14, 2004 - 4:12 pm 0 by
Filed Under SES Chicago 2004

Barry is going to be reporting on the Black Hat view point, and I will be covering White Hat. The room seems rather packed, and it looks like it will turn out to be a good session.

The queen of the White Hats, Jill Whalen, of HighRankings starts off with a presentation she has prepared. She is wearing a white cowboy hat. :) She says its rather simple the whole debate. White hats are good, black hats are bad. Unfortunately it�s not that simple she says. She asks: Who is better? Better person? Better at not getting banned?

Who are big time spammers? Jill says they are into the affiliate marketing stuff. She says if you get it in your inbox it�s probably spam you can find on the search engines. She says spam is not for most people, don�t do it, there are plenty of white hat methods that are great for you. Don�t feel you need to dive into black hat methods to be successful.

Alan Perkins, from Silver Disc Limited was up next. He said he had to think hard about covering this session. He puts up a slide that compares the white hat vs. black hat. You have to look at content and links. Black hats do it for the search engines, and white for humans. Likewise, black hats like information to remain hidden from the search engines, while whites prefer to keep it visible. He says a white hat is just as capable of doing a bad job. He says black hat seems to see search engines as enemies. He tries to treat search engines as they don�t exist.

More on White Hat comparisons

White Hats

  • Content and Links are visible to humans
  • Information is visible to both search engines and humans
  • The quality of work is visible
  • Search engines are friends
  • Site relevance is actually improved with white hat techniques
  • Results are for the long term
  • White hats use ethical techniques
  • Go by legal quidelines

Mikkel Svenden did some funny research into hats. You have paper hats, innocent hats, offensive hats, warrior hats, and a great hat for rainy days, fools hat.

He says SEO is not about hats. He holds up a book called Marketing Warfare. It�s a war out there. �There are many wars to fight, many ways to fight them and many positions to win.� He asks how �creative� is your bookkeeping. Do you always play by the rules in every business you do. How aggressive are your other sales and marketing activities. He gives the example of Enron, they would not do Black hat techniques, yet they had some shady accounting. Doesn�t make sense to him these companies.

Todd Friesen was up next, I have seen him speak before and gives a good presentation. He is representing the Black hats. He talks about referral log spamming and the problem is causes. The take away from this is lock your stats folder, don�t make your log available. More Black hat techniques, he uses auto generated gibberish. They would hide this in frame sets, and load up a nice page using cloaking. This is IP based content delivery, or cloaking. There is a good amount of screen scraping and repacking, put gibberish under a less optimized page, flash sites, and laundering your visitors via IP. If you are doing cloaking, you have to do IP based, not bot based. Google will bust your butt if you are just scanning for googlebot/2.l. There is also cloak busting, or white hats that are busting black hats. He says search engines do cloaking to.

Todd talks about how things have changed. Used to you would be able to buy links and it was considered black hat, now it�s the norm. Some example of buying site and PR. You can buy sites to pass PR onto another site. Buy expired domains.

He highly recommends you investigate to your competitors to see if they are doing black hat. If they are doing it, find out what they are doing.

Greg Boser, from WebGuerrilla spoke next. He says there is not enough honesty in our business about what we do. He says SEM stands for Search Engine Manipulation. We are all here to learn how to become better at manipulating search engines. He says that the sites in the top ten are those that are the ones that are best at manipulating the top 10 results.

Greg defines level of Search Engine Optimization. For white hat he defines as:

White � (TOS SEO) Content manipulation. Rewriting text, titles, and tags so that they include far more occurrences of your desired keywords than would ever come out of your mouth during a conversation with a potential client/customer.

He asks is aggressive search engine optimization bad for your brand?

No, he displays about 15 major companies that are using cloaking and a variety of techniques, such as eBay, eToys, Compaq, Kraft, British Airways, Fedex, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Interesting. He says none of those companies had issues that were bad for the brand.

He asks who is evil? He says it�s any SEO company that does not tell their clients on what they are doing, or those companies that are not upfront with their tactics and strategies they use to get sites ranked. He recommends be honest with your clients and full disclosure is a must.


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