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The Secret Life Of The Black Hat SEO
The black hat SEO flies under the radar. He doesn’t want to attract too much attention — he knows attention brings bad things. Essentially he lives in the shadows. He doesn’t speak at conferences. He doesn’t publish articles. He hangs out with other black hats at conferences and road trips.
In my opinion, an affiliate-oriented conference like Pubcon or Affiliate Summit is much more up his alley than traditional search marketing conferences like SMX West. Regardless of the conference, the real intel is obtained via networking — especially when booze is involved. No black hat is stupid enough to share their secrets in public.
The black hat SEO believes a healthy dose of paranoia is an essential ingredient to black hat longevity. He thinks trusting Google with your email, documents, or analytics is insane. When he approaches a Google employee to ask a question at a conference, he makes sure his badge is turned over.
The black hat SEO is the king of offshoring. Whether it’s programmers from Russia, Latvia, the Ukraine, or content creators from the Philippines, he knows how to create leverage and do it on the cheap.
In actuality, the life of the black hat SEO isn’t all that glamorous or exciting. He’s not a jetsetter; you won’t bump into him in Monte Carlo. Certainly he’s making a good living, building wealth, and taking care of his family. With that comes a definite sense of satisfaction, comfort and freedom. But he doesn’t see himself as some sort of 007 secret agent.
The black hatter is the ultimate pragmatist. He doesn’t concern himself with the ethics of spamming. He sees Google for what it really is — a global corporation looking to maximize its profits and its return to shareholders. Google Inc. isn’t the government — their “guidelines” are driven by profit motives not by ethics or by the rule of law.
The black hatter focuses on what drives the bottom line. If email spamming drives the bottom line, they’ll very likely partake in that too. And, of course, the focus is on what works. Everything needs to be field tested. You don’t just rely on what somebody’s word.
Cost-benefit analysis underpins all activities. It could be an unsustainable tactic that burns the site to the ground within weeks, and that can be totally fine if the ROI is there. Many of the black hat tactics are short-lived, but yet many work long-term.
What are the tactics of the black hatter? Well, if I told you I’d have to kill you. Seriously though, do you think a black hatter would actually list them all out for me to publish in an article that Googlers are going to read?
Still, several black hatters were accommodating enough to give me a few teasers at least, but careful enough not to give the farm away in the process. Here are a few of their dirty little tricks:
- Hacking .EDU sites for links: Hiring Russian and Ukrainian hackers to gain access to EDU sites for link building purposes.
- .EDU alumni account identity theft: Hijacking existing alumni accounts or setting up new alumni accounts by creating fake online personas based on resumes, FaceBook, LinkedIn, and other info gained using social engineering.
- Aggressive link reclamation (i.e. link hijacking): Identifying noncommercial .COM sites with powerful link profiles that don’t have .ORGs registered, setting up .ORG clones and contacting their link sources asking them to update links from .com to .org, claiming you’ve moved.
- Building/buying links to competitors: Attacking the competitors trust and authority with bad links — from poisoned link networks, or by building thousands of nasty footer and comment spam links to the competitor’s site with the same optimized anchor text.
- Gaming Google Suggest: Stacking Google’s search box auto-complete for your competitor names with such unsavory suggestions as “[Competitor name] scam”
- Submitting fake consumer complaints: Ranting about competitors on Ripoffreport.com — it’s very difficult for the competitor to get these removed.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.