Black Hats Going White?

A reporter asked me recently if the black hat and white hat branches of SEO are getting further apart these days. I replied I thought things were coming more together.

More white hats seem to feel things they might have deemed wrong in the past to be more acceptable, while some black hats are deciding some aggressive tactics might not be worth continuing with. Meanwhile, "bad" techniques like cloaking suddenly don't seem so black hat when Google itself fully cooperates with some sites to allow it. The world of SEO just getting more gray, to me.

A Whiter Shade of Black from Gord Hotchkiss over at MediaPost is a good piece on this, looking both at how white hats can enjoy the "guilty pleasure" to talking with "these dark magicians" but how his dark hat dinner companion conversely found things getting harder and wanting to go "legit."

One point of dispute. While Gord feels the Nov. 2003 Google Florida Update was the biggest blow to spam and dark hats, I have the exact opposite view. In the wake of Florida, many, many people I talked with and read commenting on forums felt like they had been trying to go the good content route.

When Florida hit and Google stayed quiet about the mystery "signals" in place, I felt like that made it an open season for some people to feel like "anything goes" with Google, not less. Just my take.

Want to comment or discuss? Visit our forum thread, Is SEO Getting More Gray?

About the author

Danny Sullivan was the founder and editor of Search Engine Watch from June 1997 until November 2006.

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