You can usually gauge the quality of an SEO by asking him or her how they feel about Matt Cutts. As you probably know, Matt is the head of the webspam team at Google, and a very public face for their various updates such as Panda, Penguin etc. He is behind many of the updates at the Google Webmaster Central Blog which you should be reading frequently.
Generally if you want to hire an SEO and they portray him as the devil, you should walk away. Yes, he’s sometimes intentionally vague, and has Google’s best interests at heart, but he’s not the devil and you should listen to him.
Yes, Black Hat SEO and spam techniques work
This article is spurned from a little argument on an SEO board, where a black hat SEO was trying to convince a new member of the community the benefits of spamming. I stepped in merely because I don’t think it’s a good thing to start people off this way in their SEO journey.
But he kept arguing the effectiveness of spamming and black hat SEO, which I don’t dispute. It works and people make a LOT of money from it. People make a lot of money selling drugs too, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Here is a quote from that thread:
When will you people realize that Google is NOT on your side? For me it took them wiping my “white hat” site off the face of the map with Penguin, then I declared holy jihad war and issued a fatwa upon their search results and got to work learning how to spam and only then did I start to decimate the search results for my keywords. I have several sites waiting in the wings, should Google choose to down my primary. The Google search results for my set of keywords are my b*****. I’m making more money now than I ever did with the propaganda statement:
Build great quality content/sites and the traffic will come and Google will reward you.
Funny how “quality” is a highly subjective word, and usually dependent on the whims of a 3rd world worker doing manual reviews for Google.
Matt Cutts is not your friend, neither is the “report links” tool. It’s all propaganda and you guys are eating it up hook/line/sinker. But at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is how much money you are making. If you’re making what I’m making, then more power to you. If not, you might want to consider switching teams.
This is monumentally bad advice. If this guy wants to do black hat stuff on his own site, that’s fine but doing it to his customers and encouraging new marketers to do it is flat wrong. It’s a recipe for disaster, and a short term strategy at best.
How does spam and black hat SEO hurt anyone?
This is an argument I hear a lot from black hats. They claim black hat SEO and spamming are a victimless crime, so why does anyone care if they do it? This is also flat wrong. When you hire a black hat SEO, here are the victims of their activities:
Honest Webmasters - They’re providing good content that people are looking for, but won’t find it if black hats have swallowed up the first few pages with links to their affiliate sites.
Webmasters who pay for good SEO - There are people who pay for honest white hat SEO and also get buried by black hats.
Beginner Webmasters - When people starting out read this advice and take it, they end up getting their sites penalized later and don’t know why.
Naive Customers - People paying a black hat might trust them and get a big surprise later. They may not know a thing about SEO and have no idea their site and business are put at risk.
Webmasters of forums, blogs and directories - Those 10,000 backlinks you bought from an SEO? Those are actually comments and links posted on other people’s blogs and forums by a robot, automatically. They use automated programs to spam their links all over and guess what? Someone has to take time out of their day to remove them, or hire someone to remove them.
Does this sound like a victimless activity to you?
Why you shouldn’t spam
You shouldn’t participate in black hat activities if you want a real business strategy. Yes, you can make some money by building throwaway sites and getting search results and converting. But it will catch up to you. If you’re thinking of doing this for your main business site, think again.
If you have an awesome domain named after your company, printed on business cards and signage, etc do you really want to get that site removed from the index? At that point it’s worthless for attracting new customers and you’ll either have to deal with type ins and links as your only source of traffic or change the domain.
When you change your domain you’ll also have to change those business cards, signage and settle for something other than the original domain you started with. Your branding efforts are thrown in the trash, and you have to start over.
Your reputation is equity.
Don’t be caught spamming, don’t get delisted and don’t allow your link to be spammed all over the internet. It looks really bad and makes people associate your company with spam and that’s never a good place to be. Your reputation is vital both in the business world and for search engines. Don’t throw it away for a temporary influx of cash.
Are you new to SEO, or thinking of hiring one and don’t know much about it? Check out the Google Webmaster Guidelines and study up. If you hire someone make sure they’re not going to do anything that might violate Google’s terms. In reality Google is your friend because they’ll send you tons of free traffic to your website, you just have to abide by a few rules to get it.