Last week was the SES Chicago show, we were unable to make it, but I am hearing a lot of buzz about it from the community. As someone who has been reporting on the industry for over five years now, I found one topic pretty interesting.
It seems like either SEO "blackhats" are becoming more "whitehat" or that we are all starting to understand each other a lot better or maybe, the line has blurred more over the years. What makes me say this now?
Well, besides for many folks, including (I am 99% sure) Matt Cutts of Google claiming that more and more blackhats are learning that its best to go whitehat - we have a post from the whitest of whitehats, Doug Heil. Now, if you don't know Doug, Doug has been in the industry for a really long time - he has always been on the extreme whitehat side. So much so, he has taken stances against certain conferences, forums and individuals in the industry.
Doug, for the first time (I believe), attended and spoke at the Search Engine Strategies show. In fact, he spoke on a panel named Black Hat, White Hat & the Best Kept Secrets to Search. Now, he spoke on the panel with Richard Zwicky, Eric Enge, Todd Friesen, and David Naylor. I assume Todd and David were the blackhats and Richard and Eric were the whitehats. Now, for Doug to agree to sit down on a panel at an SES with blackhats is major. But it is even more major how Doug described his experience at his forums, I Help You Forums and Search Engine Watch Forums.
He outed Todd as a whitehat:
Todd Friesen; This dude rocks. He tries his best to maintain the blackhat image, but trust me; after having quite a few talks with him, he's nothing but pure BS and totally whitehat. That's right; whitehat. You've been outed Todd. I think he understands my definition of cloaking now as well.
Actually; Todd (oilman) has been a whitehat for a very long time. I simply confirmed my own thoughts last week about it. Yes; he buys links, but buys them for large .com's with lots of quality incoming links. That's a big difference from the small to medium who are buying those links. If Todd buys 5 links for someone like amazon.com, I call that buying paid advertising. NO risk at all.
And claimed that David Naylor will soon be a whitehat:
Dave is really nothing but a teddybear. He's a blackhat, but I think I can sway him to the other side eventually.
Naylor? He will be a whitehat in due time. He's not much a blackhat anyhoo.
Really good stuff, in fact - he is now open to communication with "blackhats," which is a wonderful thing.
But you see, Doug also seems to imply that certain link buys and certain forms of redirection are not considered blackhat. I do not know if Doug always felt this way, but for some reason - I think 4 years ago, he would not have found buying links "for someone like amazon.com" as "buying paid advertising." Nor would I have thought he would be okay with any form of "content delivery" in any way.
So what has happened over the years? I think the most important thing is that Google is more detailed about what is allowed and what is not allowed. Clearly there are forms of content delivery and redirection that is allowed. But four years ago, that was a mystery. Link buys, well - Doug's comments surprised me.
In any event, I am really happy to see a more open dialog between the whitehat side of things and the blackhat side of things. Now if we can get Doug to sit down with Ralph Tegtmeier (a.k.a. Fantomaster) at SES London. :)