Blackhat Ethics: Whose Rules Are They Anyway?

by SlightlyShady June 4th, 2008 

I've never made a big secret of the fact that as a commercial SEO and marketer, I am what most call a blackhat. When I change hats, it's gray at best. This is a choice that has brought up some interesting debates within my own blog, and occasionally on forums around the web. Since those conversations generally go a predictable place (but are always interesting), I thought it'd be nice to put the debate into the larger community.


the black hat

I expect that most readers will not agree with what I write here and I'm fine with that; it's not for everyone. But I thought it may be good to at least put the ideas out there. I can only speak for myself here, but I believe many of these answers would be similar throughout the blackhat community. Please note that for the sake of this discussion, I'm separating hackers from blackhats. We are different, and the confusion benefits neither.

Also bear in mind that I do not take clients, so I'm not addressing that issue. Most skilled blackhats I know also do not take clients.

The "Ethics" of Blackhat (Vs. Google)

I have no qualms about "tricking" Google.

Rewind time to when search engines were a fresh idea, and many people thought they themselves were unethical. Search engines are not invited to sites. They copy/cache content, and do whatever they can to profit from this content they were never asked to access.

With this idea in mind, why would I not do the same as them, and attempt to profit from them profiting off of me? If I want to "opt out" of them crawling and not make money off of them, I'll deny by robots.txt. If they want to not make money off of me, they will "opt out" and remove my site.

Even ignoring the above statement, the double standards of SEO in the Google world make it quite difficult for someone to come in new to compete. I've mentioned YouTube Cloaking before. The New York Times apparently also gets this privilege. Well established sites with a substantial advertising budget? Those will never be banned or penalized. Many use blatant "doorway" pages, and will never have anything done against them. Any new site? Banned. So sometimes, a bit of stealth is necessary.

So from that alone, it's obvious that even if I was whitehat, Google would still not care about my business. They are handing entire control of niches over by way of green lighting (or ignoring) large and entrenched corporations who use practices I could not touch.

I can accept this; I believe no one is entitled to a rank just because they play by the rules, and Google shouldn't have to worry about each business. There's only so many rankings to go around. But at the same time, I'm going to not going to change my business to help Google's business. Rather than stagnate, I compete.

The last major point is that I'm not at all confident in the true longevity of most [competitive] sites. Rules change, especially with Google. Before they began aggressively attacking paid links, how many people felt their sites were secure? The sense I got was the vast majority. Restriction has been slowly tightening since then from everything I've seen and experienced. If I'm going to pour hours and hours of development time into building a site, I want to know it's going to rank. I don't want to worry about miscellaneous "guidelines" changes, or "special cases". I don't want to worry about some Google base or local dropdown knocking my site down 5 inches. I don't even want to worry about the possibility of negative SEO. I don't want to put my faith in one individual site. I'd rather distribute the risk.

The "Ethics" of Blackhat (Vs. Webmasters)

After the ethics vs. Google conversation subsides, normally it changes to "what about the webmasters you're ranking above? Don't you feel bad cheating?"

Once again, no. First and foremost, no one is entitled to rank just because they play by an arbitrary set of rules that no one really ever agreed to, signed, or otherwise implied was ok. If that's the lay of the land, perhaps I should be able to make some rules. Would it be unethical for random people I meet on the street to not follow those? I think not.

Beyond that, my view is that in business our success is dictated by the risks we are, or are not willing to take. Any site I end up outranking made their decision to play it safe, and that was a perfectly respectable call. I'm sure they'll enjoy their ranking for many months after the blackhat site has been reported by a disgruntled SEO and is banished from the rankings. My decision was to not play it safe, and as a result their are consequences for the action. These choices are not moral judgements and they are not indications of personality outside of business. They are business models. Longevity vs. Fast income. Neither is inherently better than the other. They are just different. There is reward for risk.

Conclusion

I suspect I'll take some heat for this. But in a internet landscape where Google is essentially revolting against competitive SEO with tight restrictions, "usability" additions that remove emphasis from the search results and onto maps, Google Base/Checkout, and their paid listings, I do not feel at all comfortable investing my money into a site that may or may not be alive/ranking/in a niche where ranking still matters several years from now. Google is looking out for Google, and no one else. I will do the same.

As soon as clients are added into the picture, this entire ethical beast changes direction a bit. But hey, that's for another entry someday.

As always, constructive criticism or intelligent debate is welcome. My only request is that nothing get abusive.

If you liked this post(or just feel the need to spy on us evil types), feel free to drop by. I write regularly at Slightly Shady SEO covering whichever topics I feel like (typically PPC/SEO) and always enjoy a lively debate ;-)

Images courtesy of Charl22, stephenccwu and Jana Mills

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62 Responses to “Blackhat Ethics: Whose Rules Are They Anyway?”

  1. Chris says:

    I don't "feel bad for Google" because blackhats such as yourself exploit Google and refuse to follow their rules. I think you miss the reason why many people despise blackhat and blackhat tactics… its because you provide a terrible user experience. Scraped content, arbitrage, spamming, etc. only makes the Internet a worse place for uses. Google, on the other hand, (arguably) has improved the online experience for the vast majority of users. Sure "Google is looking out for Google", but the brilliance of their business model is that it relies on providing the best user experience possible. Thats the reason why the New York Times site will not be removed from the listings while http://www.free-viagra-casino-onlinedating-porn.com will. NYT provides values while your blackhat site does not. This double standard that you point out shows us, if anything, that Google is doing a great job of seperating the value from the crap.

    Bottom line is do what you gotta do, but don't expect people to like it or Google to change.

  2. Sterkworks says:

    Very well said. I've never quite heard a case laid out that well for "blackhat." And I agree with you 100%.

  3. Doug Heil says:

    Very well said by Chris above. Read that again.

    I think you may be showing you age with some things you wrote Shady. Your age and your time so far on the internet. I don't ever recall a time where we did not have a search engine to want to do well in. You seem to be saying there was that time. I also don't recall calling a search engine unethical as you say. It's always been people out there cheating anyway they can to do well in them. Your double standard thing doesn't hold up though. Google can delist you easily and not feel it whatsoever. Can you delist Google and not feel it? I think not. Also; you seem to say that just because someone is not helping clients spam that all is fine and dandy and no one is hurt by your spam. I don't know where to start on a statement like that. Cheating the se's is cheating whether or not you are helping someone else to cheat.

    LOL I also see you have a check box to say the comment is 100% spam free. So it's OK that you do not like spam, but OK for you to use spam on someone else? :)

  4. Hobo says:

    Interesting article Shady – you hit the nail on the head when you mention clients interests and ethics in my opinion.

  5. This is a well-written article xmcp, I agree with you. Search engines and SEOs are in a business, not a hobby or charity.

    The thing that completely removes any guilt from my mind in running blackhat ops is how Google contradicts themselves so much. For example:

    – The "nofollow" tag was invented so that webmasters could try to cut down on people spamming links on sites which allow user-submitted content. The tag was basically a courtesy to help webmasters

    – Now, Google *requires* you to use nofollow not as a courtesy to you the webmaster, but in order to help them do rankings and get you to do their work for them (which is arguable). Nevermind the fact that the effectiveness of 'nofollow' has been proven to not work exactly as Google has said.

    – So, Google tells us webmasters to make sites for USERS not search engines. That makes perfect sense! In their perfect world, everyone makes websites and the search engines invisibly do their work and point people to the site that best matches their request.

    – BUT Google requires you to put nofollow on paid links which completely contradicts the notion of just making your site for users. If search engines did not exist, webmasters would still pay other websites to link to them, just to get traffic! Links were INVENTED for users to click on! Links were not something deployed by webmasters just to "pass pagerank" or link juice or whatever you want to call it.

    – And how do you define a paid link anyway? If I buy a website and put a link on it to my other website, is it a paid link? Obviously some money changed hands so that I could place that link.

    – To find out, I guess we should all hurry over to Matt Cutts blog and over-analyze every random pointless thing he has to say.

  6. Great insights on balckhat SEO..^^ and by the way, I love the picture..^^

  7. Mike says:

    I have a belly button.. Google knows it, I told them.

  8. I must disagree with you Chris; if done correctly, "blackhat" sites can provide a better user experience than many "whitehat" sites. I get paid when I make a sale, so it's in my interest to help the user get what they want – just as much as the next blackhat, whitehat, greyhat.

    The reason I feel "blackhats" can provide a better user experience rather than an experience that is on par, is the fact that when cloaking, we can serve the user a perfectly optimised page without having to make any compromises for search engines.

  9. Sam says:

    I love how in the first comment the porn/casino link is not nofollow'd (doubt the poster had *that* in mind!), yet the commenter who leaves their url in the next comment behind their name does see it nofollow'd.

    Pure and utter beauty.

  10. @Chris: You raise some good points. However, let me ask you this.
    If I were to make a site with valuable content that required a paid registration to access(or even a free account) do you think google would make an exception for me? Congrats, there is a great incentive to NOT bother.
    Now NYT does provide value; I will agree with that. But what about the other several hundred sites using the associated press feed? How come they can't do this? They don't deserve the same advantage for the same content?
    And youtube for example: Aside from Google's obvious incentive to have it ranking, is it any better than dailymotion? What about break.com or metacafe? Or more importantly, the smaller(but still quality) online video sites? If they used the same tactics, there would be in serious jeopardy. It's unfair on Google's end, and discourages the creation of good content in many ways.
    For my response regarding more traditional blackhat sites, I actually just commented over at sphinn regarding this.
    http://sphinn.com/story.php?id=50733#c44106

  11. Wii Boy says:

    I think the line that has to be drawn, as you rightly point out in the conclusion, is that things change (in my view, dramatically) where you are doing the work for someone else – not many of us would want to get a client's/friend's site banned by the Big G.

    If it's your own site, then hey, do whatever is necessary. As long as it is legal of course.

    Darker shade of white!

  12. REBlogGirl says:

    Well said, SS. SEO isn't about ethics, it's about business. I too have white, gray and black hat sites that all do well – do I feel bad for Google when I kick a BH site to the top? Not a bit! I've been at the web since the dot com bust of the nineties where what is considered black hat now was just smart marketing back then. One of things I have learned is that the goal for the site determines the type of SEO/SEM you perform to get it there- for example- a real estate site must always use white hat SEO because it has to do well for a long period of time, where an event site that needs to rank quickly and can disappear after the event is over, could use some gray-black hat techniques. Basically- what I am saying is EVERY SEO should know all the tools available not just the ones that are pure as the drive snow. Anyone that only wants their SEO to be white, is completely ignorant. How could any of us truly advise you on how to reach your goals if we only knew 1/3 of the story? So, my white, gray and black hats are off to Shady for talking about the "ethics" of the industry.

  13. Goran says:

    You put it right. Last time… a company where i work got hit by .info disaster. In that sole day, we lost 1/3 of people's salaries for one month in missed sales (site is http://www.istrien.info if you'd care). As long as I am asked… don't leverage too much trust with Google… one day they will change the rules, and "legit" businesses will be out. Best practice is to diverse and "bend" rules if you can. If other webmasters can't beat you… well… they should learn more and use tricks ;)

  14. Bompa says:

    Shady, who's the girl?

    @Chris, nice try but if you think webmasters, in general, actually have a heart felt concern regarding the "user experience" of everyone that is using search engines, you're only kidding yourself. Being human, all webmasters have just one primary concern and that is their own rankings. They are not feeling bad that somebody 100 miles away or 5,000 miles around the world who is using Google is getting a few results that are not useful.

    The real reason that webmasters dispise blackhat'ers is that they see blackhat'ers as cheaters and they sure as hell do not want to lose to someone that has cheated.

    imo
    Bompa

  15. Top Rated says:

    I both love and hate Google at the same time, and for different reasons. Love obviously for the traffic, and hate for their heavy handed approach to control their business partners. For good or bad they're try to shape the internet into their vision of what is "right". I don't think anyone should have that much power. Google is arguably nothing, but a big scraper site themselves. I've hung around Blackhat forums in the past, but never had the stomach for going totally black. The internet world is afterall just another shade of grey.

  16. Robert says:

    Black hat… white hat… no hat. Lets face it folk hate it when they're not winning. If it's not the ref's fault then it's because the rules are unfair. We're all playing the same game. Granted some bend and break the rules. When you get caught, take the caution or the sending off… and start again.

    We're all playing along. But as the goalposts are constantly being moved, why stick to the rules?

  17. Jeff Quipp says:

    Outstanding post Shady! You raise a good point; when not optimizing for clients but for your own sites, can you take greater risks? Thanks again Shady!

  18. corey says:

    great points in this article. i disagree with the "for the sake of the internet" commenters.

    if google lists my site, when does it become my fault that one of google's users doesn't like it?

    i have to make a nice website for the sake of the internet? says who? make your own damn site and leave me alone.

  19. Chris says:

    SSS,

    Let me say that I appreciate your honesty and read your columns to understand more about SEO.

    I'm still not sure what everyone wants Google to do? What would you all do if you were in Google shoes? You think it makes sense for them to allow cloaking sites, spam, scraped content, MFA sites, etc. to dominte their listings?

    Well, if you think thats true then maybe a search engine will come along that doesn't penalize blackhat tactics as Google does. This new engine could steal all of Google's marketshare because users might love the experience that these blackhat sites provide. My money is on Google though.

    One thing I do find more than slightly hypocritical is everyone who is telling Google how to run their business. What does Google owe to blackhat SEOs – or any SEO for that matter? They owe it to their users to provide the best results possible, thats it. If they decide that their search listings are better by displaying cloaked YouTube and NYT results while not letting other sites do the same, that is their right.

  20. Chris says:

    "i have to make a nice website for the sake of the internet? says who? make your own damn site and leave me alone."

    But you want to tell Google how to run their site, right?

  21. Feydakin says:

    "If I want to “opt out” of them crawling and not make money off of them, I’ll deny by robots.txt. If they want to not make money off of me, they will “opt out” and remove my site."

    Brilliant.. I have said for years that allowing a for profit company to determine how "you" do business with no responsibility on their part was silly..

    And Doug, I remember the time before modern search engines quite well.. And I remember when the first meta crawlers started putting ads on the results and making money off of "us"..

  22. underworld says:

    In the end there's worse things you could do, rob a bank, kill someone – playing games with the G is fun.

    People are beginning to mix "the internet" and "google" to being the same thing, probably to the glee of the G, but this is not the case – there's more to the internet than google, in the end all google does is index the whole web, its not the content creator its just an index, however clever it is people use it as a stop gap – if a dude ranks first because he is smarter than the index all power to him, the person should realise that like other advertising, perhaps put in places they weren't expecting to see its essentially still advertising.

    Black hat doesn't have to be all about spammy, and guys its not like we are talking about hacking your mums msn…

  23. While I don't delve in blackhat SEO I don't think those that do are evil. I simply don't have the time to do so. Contrary to what many believe running black hat campaigns takes a lot of time and commitment. Sure the positive results come fast and furiously but they are usually short lived. Which means it is necessary to constantly be trying new techniques and burning through countless domains.
    Good black hats don't worry about a site getting banned because they generally have 1000s more in waiting. While there sites move in and out mine are more steady and long lasting. This is not an ethical issue it is a business issue (like you said). Like you mentioned in an earlier post on your site there are a lot of things that white hats can learn from black hats including the need to constantly try new things and test test test. Good post.

  24. Feydakin says:

    @Mark – you mean you don't delve in to black hat "now".. Neither did most of the people buying text ads on websites.. Then Google changed the rules and made all of those people evil black hats without regard to their actual reasons for buying the advertising.. Not to mention all of the now evil black hat webmasters that dared to "sell" ads on their websites..

    You also have those nasty link exchanges that Google used to tell you to go out and get and now they tell you not to.. Or at least tell you that they aren't worth very much..

  25. Top Rated says:

    One other point that occurred to me after reading this thread yesterday, was how the BlackHats of this world have made Google a better search engine. BlackHats are like the ultimate QA team. Try every imaginable trick in the book to twist, circumvent, and break the software that is Google. Then, when that doesn't work, they rewrite the book, and start again. BlackHats are the best testing team Google never paid for. The rest of us should be thanking them for improving our search experience ;)

  26. Xmcp is right… Look at things another way. When you play basketball you know the rules. Imagine a referee that can call in a construction crew and put any obstacle they want in front of YOUR basket.. and let your opponent have a bigger basket a the same time.

    It's happening – major corporations are being worse than most black hats. And they DO NOT get penalized. Some even get rewarded beyond more legit websites.

  27. TooLazytoCode says:

    SS, as always a thought provoking post.

    As a Whitehat (only by virtue of the fact that I have zero programming skills and some content creation ones) I think we all have our own kind of ban hammer hanging over us. The ever changing system and those pesky base/maps/GoogleCrap mean that we may be thrown on the heap just as easily.

    This was really brought home when I started seeing Google books results "ranking" better than mine and sending Amazon clicks through Google's account instead of my own.

    There is only one business with all the power in the end.

    Rob

  28. Toys says:

    Wow, thats a nice perspective on it. Google makes money from us if they don't like what we do then they will choose not to use us to make money.

    BTW nice pic.

  29. Sandy says:

    Thoroughly entertaining post, for the first time I'm able to see black hat as more than a cheap con and an excuse to litter the net with rubbish.
    I think that I actually understand your point of view, especially regarding your unwillingness to be dictated to by Google. Just because they're big and powerful doesn't mean they have the right to lord it over everyone.
    I still don't entirely agree with black hat seo, but you've opened my eyes as to what it really means to practitioners.

  30. Matt Davies says:

    Interesting stuff. It's always annoyed me that we put this down to "ethics" when, as has been said, SEO is about business, and the two have never played well together. Besides, ethics are totally objective – one man's white hat looks black to another, and the only absolute reference we have is Google's webmaster guidelines, and last time I checked they hadn't ascended to the status of God quite yet, so shouldn't really be defining ethics.

    The reason I don't tend to do anything too shady to the sites I work on is I wouldn't want to explain to my boss that I got a client's site banned. It's not a question of ethics to me, more a question of risk management. If I wanted to make some cash pretty quickly, however, I'd totally go for black hat.

  31. TO be honest I can try all the methods I hear about, I'm not really fussed which hat category they fall into and i'm sure that most offline businesses would do the same as long as it wasn't illegal.

  32. Jay says:

    Sorry but I was a total whitehat, ok maybe dabbled at not washing it for a few months but that was that.
    That was before Google decided that youTube was allowed to cloak!

    Google decided YouTube can cloak fair enough, but they cant then moan when I cloak, they have now set the standard not me.

    NYT, ok that was different if it was ebay or amazon I probably wouldn't be so understandable but I'm sorry youTube, I mean please.

    Would you tell your kids dont do drugs it can ruin your life, then stick a needle in your arm right in front of them? of coarse not. So why can they say don't cloak and then do it anyway.

    Please, I would never have converted before, but now screw them lets just cause them as much crap as we can.

  33. adw says:

    My only real problem with "black hat" comes from some of the tactics – for example spamming. I spend a lot of time fighting spam posted on my forums and other sites, as far as I'm concerned those people are abusing my site (my property) for their ends. It's like someone spray painting advertising on my house, it's wrong.

    Cloaking? Don't really care, I don't do it. I can see why some would, and I can see why google is against it. Maybe I'd try it if I were making a "throw-away" site, but I'm not in that line of work.

  34. corey says:

    chris writes "But you want to tell Google how to run their site, right?"

    no. that's exactly the point that xmcp is making here. no one is telling google anything…its exactly the opposite situation.

    my earlier comment, "i have to make a nice website for the sake of the internet? says who? make your own damn site and leave me alone." was aimed at you chris, if you are the same chris that commented earlier than i had, and doug heil.

    sometimes i use google, but i'm not actively campaigning for the company to make more money. to me, you "for the sake of the users" guys are just propping up google's propaganda and are helping perpetuate their campaign to command webmasters to fit into their model and make google more money.

    that's not really my bag. i am going to worry about my mission and let google worry about theirs. it's not for everyone, but i dig it.

  35. seo blog says:

    I don't feel guilty manipulating SERPs using methods search engines are not too keen on. I don't feel guilty exploiting holes. If the door is open there is nothing stopping you from walking in. I do whatever I need to do in order to achieve a certain result. If people have a problem with this, they can either follow or get lost. However I would never do anything illegal or damaging to the advertiser or anyone else in that case. To me blackhat is sneaky but not illegal.

  36. Doug Heil says:

    Not illegal Yet. Just wait until that one big lawsuit comes up against a Spammer and the one who got hurt because of the spam wins that lawsuit. It's coming boys and girls.

    Oh wait; there already was a suit. Massa Vs. Google. Google won. Go figure?

    You all praising this article and blackhats, and stating that all is fine and dandy are going to be in for a very rude awakening soon. You can take that to the bank.

  37. White Hats Are Gay says:

    Hahahah, all you white hat people make me laugh.

    This is about making money, period. Do it however you can for as long as you can.

    Screw Google and their rules. I'd rather be "shady" and make a few thousand this week, then spend hours writing articles and making chump change and not being able to pay my bills.

    Mo Money, Mo Problems.

  38. @Doug: No one. Gets. Hurt. And by the way, Massa SUED GOOGLE. Not the other way around. Part of blackhat is dealing with the banning/penalization of sites as they come.

    And Doug. How can you honestly take this hard line against blackhat when Google itself is cloaking?

  39. Chris says:

    Corey, if you don't want Goolge traffic, just use robots.txt to noindex. If you are like most people, you do want this traffic.

    Do you have a signed agreement from Google that guarantees that when people go to http://www.goolge.com to search their index, your site is displayed in their results? If so, you should file a lawsuit right now if they are not doing this. If you don't have any business agreement in place with Google that guarantees your cloaked site traffic or impressions from Google users, then I'm not sure what case you (or anyone else) has in complaining how Google runs their site.

    I can't believe that people still fail to grasp the hypocrisy of complaining about how Google runs their search results on their own site.

  40. Doug Heil says:

    Shady; You say no one gets hurt by your spam websites? Oh my; I never would have believed you were this naive. Sorry.

    And you say that Google cloaks? LOL Funny stuff. You have lots to learn about things shady. You are still very, very young, so you have plenty of time.

    I have no further comments as it's very obvious the industry has major problems judging from this thread. Too many to bother mentioning or discussing.

  41. @Chris: I'm not asking for a guarantee. I'm fine with site bans. I was explaining how it's not unethical to mess with Google, not saying "my cloaked sites should be indexed"

    "if you don’t want Goolge traffic, just use robots.txt to noindex"
    That's an opt-out system, and it's BS. I have to opt out of a company copying and profiting off my data?
    How about this "If Google doesn't want the ad impressions my site gives the, just ban the site"

    See? They can opt out too. And considering they're the ones that initiated the entire "transaction", I see no reason to mess with my robots.txt for their sake.

  42. paulette says:

    This write up give me a new perspective. Very enlightening. I agree there's nothing permanent, popular today might be a loser tomorrow.

  43. Utah SEO says:

    Black, white, grey….we're all under the same umbrella here. Make money via Google. I think if more whitehats knew blackhat better their "ethics" would quickly disintegrate.

  44. [...] did a little guest post over at search engine people that you should check out.  Pretty much agree with him 100 percent.   Popularity: [...]

  45. forumistan says:

    An interesting article. And there is a black hatted girl.

  46. Tool Belts says:

    Great post. I think there are a lot of tactics out there that are way too black hat, but as far as some basic techniques I do not think anyone should feel bad about using them. As long as you aren't ripping someone off who cares. Anyways I think grey hat is the way to go, nothing too bad but enough to help you in the SERPS.

  47. This is a fairly interesting perspective on things – I've never thought of blackhat this way. Your thoughts on Google are enlightening, I must say.

  48. Jay says:

    First of all, nice picture… but secondly, there will always be the good and the bad, the right from the wrong but you can't have one without the other, right? I mean, if there wasn't blackhat then would there really be whitehat?

    Don't get me wrong, I don't do blackhat stuff (well, I don't think lol) but you do bring up a very good point on it.

    Jay

  49. Shuyler says:

    The fact that google is so obscure with its requirements gives the most credence to your argument. We all make choices regarding how we choose to build and operate our sites, and your point that it is a business decision, not an ethical one, makes a great deal of sense. Of course, go back 50 years and tell someone that littering is "wrong" and you'd look like an idiot. Maybe we should all be prepared for the way we are judged to be constantly changing over time.

  50. Curtis Armstrong says:

    I don't really side with anyone here as I can see the perspectives of both.

    The argument that a blackhat arguably provides a better user experience because they have commercial incentive only applies to those searchers that are looking for a commercial transaction. For those searchers that are looking for answers, commercial sites (or at least blackhat ones) usually require some sort of conversion to provide those answers.

    However, the idea that as webmasters or SEO people should just agree to do whatever Google asks of us so we can all work together to make the web a better place is just naive. There's no partnership here. Google's (and any search engine's) bread an butter is user experience but they're not sharing any of the money they make as a result with you. When's the last time you flew with Larry and Sergey on the Google jet?

    My personal take is that Google is just another source of traffic to my sites. Yes it's a big source but still, just a source. I will do whatever I have to do to get high rankings. I'm not wearing any hats, I'm just trying to run my business to the best of my ability and not leave my fate in the hands of others.

    One last thing… Doug, you keep using the "you're young and inexperienced" card. Let's look at it from another angle. Perhaps you're just old and out of touch with the way things are today.

    *Following up with the obligatory "I've been doing this for over 10 years now and am in my late 30's."

  51. LittleShady says:

    @Doug Heil: It is interesting that you continue to throw around the young phrase, like you are so much older and wiser, but you don't even remember what it was like before search engines. Why don't you try addressing the issues instead of relying on Ad Hominem?

    @shady: I enjoyed your post.

  52. google owns the web its their rules from now on

  53. Foxy says:

    I totally agree, i read a similar thing over at http://www.whatsyourview.net who outlined the same arguement

  54. Andos says:

    Black hat make everybody hate you, but when use White hat, its only can get a few visitors. Maybe I must learn gray hat ;)

  55. Rhys says:

    The scary bit for me is the "Big Brother" aspect of Google – I mean they have got to the place of power and influence that they make their own rules with (apparently) little regard for the rest of the world, and I find it quite unnerving living in a WWWorld where the goal posts keep galloping around.

    It is naive of G to expect that webmasters will conform to their expectation of putting up only "content rich" sites, when most real sites HAVE to justify their existence commercially of fall off the web.

    Imagine a large daily paper that 'required' its advertisers to put up only socially helpful ads – how long would that last, if it didn't have a virtual monopoly?????

  56. [...] Blackhat Ethics: Whose Rules Are They Anyway? [...]

  57. It seems that nowadays any pure white-hat strategy will not get you anywhere…

  58. Yanuar says:

    Gosh, I just know about what is the black hat ethics, thanks for bringing it up here. And like any other said, people should stop doing that as it may causing your site to get deletion result

  59. blackhatter says:

    Black and grey hat is the way to go..unless you have a huge budget for white hat.