Not many people will say it – some out of fear and some out of blind following – but I would say that avoiding black hat isn’t always the best move for SEO. Now, before I get stoned by the “legit” SEO community, let me explain what I mean. I’m not saying that we should actively seek to be using black hat tactics for ourselves, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend them for clients. But, I think sometimes, in an effort to be white hat and accepted, we miss out on something.
Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO
For those who may not be familiar, let me start off with a very brief explanation. Black Hat SEO refers to the SEO practices which are frowned upon by Google and other search engines. Some of the common black hat SEO techniques would be things like spamming, buying links, or hiding content on a page so it can’t be seen by a user but will be picked up by search engines. White hat SEO is the opposite – using only techniques that Google feels are legitimate and helpful for the user of the website, and providing a good overall experience and natural signals to the search engine.
Why Use Black Hat?
I’m not actually advocating that we use black hat techniques. However, I think there is value in visiting and even (gasp!) participating in black hat forums. Look around, they’re not hard to find. I mean, it’s not like trying to find the Illuminati. It’s people discussing other methods. And what I believe they have to offer, we can learn from. These are people who are usually willing to take risks. They will typically see more quickly what works and what doesn’t.
Filter through things that you see. Is there high risk associated with that? Are you and/or your client okay with that? More importantly, what other ideas do these spark in your head?
In almost every arena of life, we tend to hang around people that are like us and avoid people who are unlike us and, in the process, miss out on tremendous opportunities for growth. This is a perfect example.
Should I Test Black Hat SEO
Now we’re hitting much more slippery ground. Think carefully about this. If you do test black hat SEO techniques, do it on websites you don’t care about, hosted on different servers, and unrelated to anything you do care about. You may want to do something like this to test out theories and learn more about how the search engines are working. Great. Just remember that you start treading dangerous ground.
Again, I’m not advocating that everyone should be willing to try black hat SEO techniques. I do think, though, that we stay so far away because of fear and what we’re told that we miss out on learning opportunities and knowledge that will make us better at SEO in the long run – even pure white hat SEOs. Take a few minutes and just see what people are saying. And, if you find value in it, let me know. Tweet me or pass along your thoughts in the comments. It’s always appreciated.
So, do you think it’s wise to learn from black hat?