Why Blackhat and Grayhat SEO is Short-Lived (and a waste of your money)
We all want to rank #1 on Google for “weight loss pills” and “buy Viagra online” but let’s be honest. Those are some of the most difficult to rank keywords to rank.
For only $199/month you can get a “top secret blackhat Google proof” SEO service that will get you on top of the SERPs for any keyword.. guaranteed.
Have you seen offers like this? They are all over. Email spammers flood my inbox with them multiple times daily and I am sure I’m not the only one that receives these outrageous offers. Even if you search for SEO services on Google you will come across AdWords ads that offer these same claims.
They sound great, and sadly many business owners fall for them.
They don’t understand the pros and cons associated with blackhat or even grayhat SEO. They just want fast results. So, they take the bait, expect overnight results and when they don’t come or when they suddenly drop out of the SERPs they are left with a worthless website and domain.
I have seen it so many times. I have audited hundreds of penalized websites and 80% of the time it’s Fiverr quality spammy links to blame.
Hopefully this blog post will help to explain why it’s always best to do things the right way, especially today, when it comes to SEO.
Blackhat and Grayhat SEO are not worth the hassle. Here’s why..
Techniques to Avoid
There are several techniques that scream “blackhat” and “grayhat” SEO. Here is a list of things to avoid, as they can kill your SEO campaign.
A couple of years ago people stressed so much about keyword density. Some said 2.75% was the magic number, while others went as high as 7%. That would mean for every 100 words of content (which isn’t a lot at all) there would be 7 occurrences of the keyword. That is outright ridiculous and looks so spammy now that I look back. Yet, still to this day, some SEOs are stuffing content with keywords.
Not only can this get you slapped silly by Google, but the people reading your content will assume that your business and website is a joke. With that much stuffing, your content won’t appear to be natural and it will push people away. They will think your website is some outsourced piece of crap.
Remember years ago websites would have a dedicated page on their website for link exchanges. It wasn’t even something that was done on the down low. There was a page that allowed webmasters to submit their website and instructions on how to link back.
Can you imagine if some people were still this obvious about it? Well guess what? Google isn’t stupid. They can sniff out link exchanges very easily. A lot of inexperienced SEOs will drop all of their link exchanges on one page of their website. If Google notices this, then it’s game over. You aren’t going to get any value from links coming from a page that has hundreds if not thousands of non-relevant outbound links.
Do you think your website is going to perform well in the SERPs with spun articles that cost 25 cents each? If you knew how much money I spend on content for my own personal projects, you might fall over. I’m confident that I spend more money on content than most SEO agencies make every year.
You have to be willing to pay a premium for content that actually holds the attention of your visitors, while also giving Google the impression that you are a source of useful information relevant to the terms you are trying to rank organically for.
Long-form content isn’t cheap. I can promise you that $15 articles won’t do the trick. Spun articles give your visitors a crappy experience and they will be the death of your website in the event of a manual review.
If you look at the SERP results for keywords related to diet pills and Viagra, you can highlight the page that is ranking and often that will uncover hidden text. Just because the visitor can’t see it doesn’t mean that Google can’t. They can. Most websites pop up at the top of the SERPs when this is done because it tricks the algorithm for a brief second, but this approach leads to a VERY fast crash and burn.
Unsuspecting business owners have no idea the SEO is doing this because they don’t see the hidden text. I still see articles that claim this is a blackhat method. It’s so outdated that only the truly clueless still use it.
Automated Social Link Posting
Remember when social signals were the rage, and everyone was running bots to spam links all over Twitter and MySpace? Well, social signals are still important, but more so in terms of social shares on content from your website.
Blasting out links with your keyword in the post does nothing. It makes your company look like amateur clowns. But there are still cheap and worthless SEO services that use this approach. The accounts that are used to send out thousands of links are never seen by human eyes, so the odds of receiving traffic from this is exactly 0%, and there is absolutely no SEO benefit.
Public Blog Networks (PBNs)
Take a look at Blackhatworld.com or any other popular internet marketing forum. There are hundreds of sellers that are providing “PBN” links and completely advertising them wrong, by referring to them as PRIVATE blog networks. There is nothing private about them, since anyone can place orders, and even more ridiculous is the fact that these sellers hand out samples to anyone that will ask, including Google employees.
All Google has to do is identify one of the blogs and torch anything the blog is linking out to. It has happened in the past and continues to happen. Most SEO “packages” will list a PBN as their “secret sauce” and unsuspecting to the client, they are just buying public blog links from other forum sellers.
Another 5-year old SEO method that has no benefit, the way blackhat SEOs do it. This was something that you could use software such as ScrapBox to automate back in the day. You could set it up so the software spins pre-made comments and drops links.
This doesn’t work now, and here is why:
Blogs that do accept comments these days are very selective and usually manually approve all comments. They also require a real name, rather than a keyword. Back in the day you could have “payday loans” as the commenter name with a link back to your website.
Comment links are no-follow, but there is still some value in them. You have to comment manually and put some actual thought into them. When you do it this way you can actually receive referral traffic as well as a no-follow link. Just make sure you are commenting on articles and blogs that are niche relevant.
Cloaking involves showing the search engines something entirely different than what’s on the actual page being ranked. This is an old school blackhat technique that worked wonders ten years ago. Today, it’s a golden ticket ride to penalty land.
If Google doesn’t sniff it out right away, you can bet your competition will report your website and you will eventually be slapped silly. The SERPs are so competitive these days that some larger affiliates and companies have a dedicated team of snoops that are looking for websites ranking above them that are gaming the system by monitoring their links and activity. If you play with fire you are going to eventually feel the burn.
Duplicate Content (Stealing)
I have seen a lot of websites getting duplicate content penalties because the SEO simply copied and pasted content from another website. Did the other site get penalized? Nope, because it was indexed on their domain first.
So many SEOs think that the duplicate content penalty doesn’t exist and they are too cheap to hire a content writer to do it right. This blackhat shortcut will ruin your day once the penalty hits. I post a lot of my blog content in other places, but neither site is harmed. First, because it was indexed on my website first, and second, because the sites I re-publish it on have thousands of new pages created daily, so it’s not even noticeable. Low quality sites that have 10 blog posts, all stolen put themselves in a dangerous position, as 100% of their content is duplicate.
You Are Wasting Your Time Attempting Shortcuts
Shortcuts and “rank quick” schemes are not the way to go, for five simple reasons.
Potential Google Penalties
It’s not a matter of “if” you get hit with a Google penalty, it’s a matter of “when” your website gets slapped and falls from the sky to an early death. Google’s algorithm is constantly changing and they are finding offending websites much easier these days.
They are creating self-driving cars and amazing technology, so don’t you think uncovering a PBN or identifying websites that are using hidden text is child’s play to them? They have more technology and resources available than any other company on the planet. If your SEO strategy relies on gaming Google, you are in for a rude and quick awakening.
Wasted Time and Money
Even if you are doing blackhat and grayhat SEO it’s still going to cost you money and time, just less of it, on both accounts. Low quality SEO can cost just a few hundred dollars a month, because of what the provider is delivering. A few Fiverr gigs might cost the seller $25, and they sell it for $499. It’s a hell of a markup, that’s for sure.
The time wasted on low quality SEO is still time you could be applying to a long-term SEO campaign. Nothing worthwhile happens overnight or in a couple weeks. If more business owners were educated on SEO they would understand the importance of quality.
Traffic is Just Half the Battle
One of the biggest lessons I learned from doing content marketing the right way is that it provides much more than just high rankings in the SERPs. Every blog post I publish turns into a content asset for my company that attracts traffic and leads month after month.
Every infographic I create and publish on other websites sends referral traffic years after I post it. Links are great and the best signal to tell Google to rank your website, but when you take the time to secure the best ones, you also get referral traffic and branding exposure.
No Long-Term Benefits
When you get penalized from blackhat and grayhat SEO you are done. Recovering from a penalty can take years. Nobody has time for that. When you get pinched you have to scrap EVERYTHING and start over. Think of all the wasted effort. Focus on long-term benefits and do it right.
You Don’t Build up Equity or Value
Want to know one of the main reasons I decided to do everything within Google’s guidelines? Because I am building my agency with the goal of an acquisition or buy-out in the future. Clients and recurring revenue are great assets, but content that is constantly driving new leads and business is an even stronger asset.
Every blog post I publish strengthens my agency and increases its value. So this approach gets me higher quality clients that spend more money and also increases the value of my agency. It’s a win/win approach that more need to focus on.
This goes for any online business, from e-commerce stores to niche blogs that generate revenue through advertisements. Focus on creating an asset that builds value. Often times, the exit is the big payday.
The promise of fast rankings and page #1 SERP traffic is very appealing, especially to businesses that are in highly competitive niche. But, even if blackhat and grayhat SEO can get you on top, it’s only going to be temporary. Once penalized (and you will be) your site and the content on it becomes worthless. You have to start all over, from square one. If you just focus on doing it right, it might take a little longer, but you are going to remain on top, further strengthening your SERP positions.
There is so much opportunity to make money and be successful online. Everyone wants it right away without putting in the work. Even the gurus selling products that claim to help you be successful in a matter of days have spent time doing it right. Don’t always believe what they say. Overnight success is short lived and so is the financial gain.
I can tell you from firsthand experience that doing it the right way is the way to go. Several years ago I laughed at the SEOs that talked about content marketing. Guess what? It works, and it is responsible for the steady growth of my agency into a seven-figure per year online business.
If you have any questions about SEO (whitehat, grayhat, or blackhat) please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer as quickly as possible. I have experience converting from the dark side to the Google-friendly side, and I’m more than happy to help you transition as well.