How Black Hat SEOs Still Outrank Valuable Sites

seo-software-top-4*

For almost a decade I have been known to be a proponent of so called “white hat SEO”. White hat SEO simply means optimization of sites in accordance with search engines and users – not to manipulate them.

I have been always keeping an eye on the dark side of SEO called “black hat” to be able to know who I’m fighting against.

By now I’m not as keen anymore about the differentiation. My angry young man days are over I guess.

We’re all Panama hat SEOs anyway as Google will declare techniques to be against their guidelines today that were perfectly OK or even recommended yesterday.

Do you remember so called “PageRank sculpting” Matt Cutts encouraged for years and then – bam! – declared to be detrimental to your site’s health?

Recently when several clean sites I dealt with have been penalized for various reasons I even considered to become black hat myself after all these years but I’m still convinced that “you don’t have to f*#k people over to survive”. Also to cheat is always a sign of giving up. You realize that you can’t compete with legit means and then you try some tricks to stay afloat.

Black hat SEO or cheating have some obvious advantages probably everybody recognizes. They are simply shortcuts.

They work faster and require less effort. In case they don’t cheating becomes useless. Why take a shortcut if it takes longer?

Ever since Google introduced their so called Panda and Penguin updates to remove low quality sites and sites with artificial backlink profiles from their index there has been lots of talk that SPAM, black hat SEO and shortcuts do not work anymore. I still work for clients and take a look at my own sites and can tell you that black hat SEOs still outrank valuable sites. The question is how?

I have seen some cases where all the Panda and Penguin measures seemingly didn’t work. Low quality content and links still make a few sites rank above the competition. My gut feeling is though that these are exceptions from the rule. Today I want to to show you the techniques black hats use that work in many cases not just a few. These are the techniques I have been witnessing a lot in recent time.

 

Blogger, Tumblr, WordPress.com and other blogs

Keyword rich quick and dirty blogger blogs rank for competitive phrases. When I first noticed this I became nostalgic. This technique is not new at all but it seems to still work or again. I haven’t followed it that closely. You know that Google owns Blogger. as in blogspot.com macys-coupons

My examples were all from German Google.de as I work from Germany so I had to search a little for a Google.com example. It’s not a perfect one, the blog is not black hat, it’s just clumsy and low quality. The post itself stems from 2006 and has been regularly updated recently. So it’s almost OK but certainly not good enough to rank on #5 for [macys coupons] right below Macys itself and Coupons.com

macys-coupons-screen-shot

Black hats use this bloated authority of Blogger and Google’s preference for its own services to spam the index. It works to a lesser extent with other sites like Tumblr or WordPress.com but Blogger is the most obvious culprit here as it ranks best.

There are lots and lots of spammy “blogs” out there.

Just search on Google for any current movie and add “watch online” and you will find numerous examples. Take a look at the first example I chose, the latest sci-fi movie with Tom Cruise, Oblivion, these are the #5 to #10 Google.com results:

watch-oblivion-online-5-10

As you see there are three Tumblr splogs leading to illegal copies of Oblivion and one on WordPress.com. There are many more in the top 20. In this case I haven’t found any Blogger splogs though.

 

Redirects

seo-tools-top-3

Redirects are still a very common black hat SEO technique. For example the page that ranks #3 for [seo tools] and #4 for [seo software] (two examples close to home) is a redirected free page from over-blog.com – a legit blogging or lifestreaming service.

Also consider the fake rating of 9.7 with an astounding number of 26858 votes. It’s so called rich snippets spam other people have written whole posts about.

You end up on Gscraper, a spamming software that as you see on the screen shot below has a very bad reputation based on user feedback from WOT (Web of Trust).

gscraper

The example here is very similar to the splogs above. It’s just the added redirect that makes the difference.

There are other kinds of redirects black hats use to rank above you.

Once a site gets penalized they simply redirect using a 301 redirect to the next domain and this new one ranks for weeks or months until the game starts anew. My client has been outranked in this way for several months now. They were all white hat but have been penalized for one single “paid link” from a high quality paid directory.

These ways of hijacking authority of third party sites seem to work for weeks and sometimes months.

White hat sites will often prevail after a while but new black hat sites will pop up again when the old ones get penalized. Apparently it takes several weeks to a few months until Google finally classifies a site as spammy. A painfully slow process for those who attempt to play fair.

What can you do about it? Not much. You could report all of these sites but new ones will appear faster than you can look even in case they get taken down either by the sites they get hosted on or Google.

You can of course learn from black hats. There is nothing wrong with setting up legit blogs on Blogger, Tumblr or WordPress.com that deal with your major keywords.

* The top 4 on Google.com for [seo software]. The first three results are perfectly legit. Number 4 is not as the post explains. There are more black hat results for this query right now. SERPs.com is not even in the top 10.

6 responses to “How Black Hat SEOs Still Outrank Valuable Sites

  1. Nice post Tad. Yeah we don’t rank top 10 for ‘SEO Software’ yet, but I would say we don’t deserver a top 10 ranking….yet : ). We’re stil pretty new, and don’t have the backlink authority yet to crack that page 1 spot.

  2. Nice post Tad. Yeah we don’t rank top 10 for ‘SEO Software’ yet, but I would say we don’t deserver a top 10 ranking….yet : ). We’re stil pretty new, and don’t have the backlink authority yet to crack that page 1 spot.

  3. Here is my theory on the thin line between black hat and white hat.

    White hat SEO’s are the people who have a budget to produce creative ways to generate natural links. Unlike black hats, white hats have a team of workers to share the work load.

    Black Hat SEO’s are the guys working to a shoe string, they dont have the budget to buy links 😉 hint hint….

    These guys work on their own to automate the same amount of work the white hats do and even more so.

    I do mainly black hat seo my self and the reason is simple. Cost… I cant afford to pay a content writers for fresh new content or pay a graphics designer to churn out new infographics daily. As most black hat go we work on our own sites to provide our own income.

    Any SEO firm worth they weight should employ white hat tactics as thats what they get paid to do.

  4. Here is my theory on the thin line between black hat and white hat.

    White hat SEO’s are the people who have a budget to produce creative ways to generate natural links. Unlike black hats, white hats have a team of workers to share the work load.

    Black Hat SEO’s are the guys working to a shoe string, they dont have the budget to buy links 😉 hint hint….

    These guys work on their own to automate the same amount of work the white hats do and even more so.

    I do mainly black hat seo my self and the reason is simple. Cost… I cant afford to pay a content writers for fresh new content or pay a graphics designer to churn out new infographics daily. As most black hat go we work on our own sites to provide our own income.

    Any SEO firm worth they weight should employ white hat tactics as thats what they get paid to do.

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