Got The Black Hat Blues? Put On Your Thinking Cap!

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Some of the stuff that folks do, trying to fool the search engines, is just laughable. I tried to take the Independence Day weekend off, and not think about search engines, but I got this email on Thursday night as I was packing up, and it occured to me that a few folks could stand to trade in their black hats for what my second grade teacher called a “thinking cap.”

This particular would-be black hat SEO (we’ll call him “Bob” because that’s not his name) could not understand how his entire link farm network had been sniffed out and penalized so easily… after all, he had set up separate hosting accounts for all 150 domains, used “anonymous” domain registration (a useful service offered by GoDaddy and other registrars to protect customers from email spam), and in spite of all that, the link farm just wasn’t showing up in Google.

Now I don’t know if Bob’s actually been penalized, for all I know he forgot to get some links into his network. I mean, if you’re confused enough to set up 150 web hosting accounts (his credit card company actually froze his account temporarily from all the online transactions), there’s no telling how confused you are beyond that. But, I do know that Google is a domain registrar, and they can see right past that little wall of anonymity into the real registration records.

What’s really remarkable is that this guy could have accomplished his objective very easily, with simple, natural SEO strategies. What he spent, in time and money, to construct an elaborate and ultimately failed scheme, could have gone into real content, a real website, and some more intelligent linking strategies.

It’s natural to think that there “must be some kind of trick” to this search engine game, but it’s actually not that hard to play within the rules and win. Can the readers of this blog actually imagine how much time it took to build 150 fake websites, to upload all that screen-scraped content, with 150 different accounts?

That’s it. I have had enough… this week the SitePoint SEM blog will be all about real natural linking strategies that work. About working smarter, not harder. About getting ranked with a few quality links, instead of a mountain of rented links. Stay tuned, and if you can find your thinking cap, put it on. Your contributions can help here.

“Bob,” thanks for sharing your story, and agreeing to allow this (pseudonymous) public flogging. I promise you that it will be easier to just do it the right way.

Dan ThiesDan Thies
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