Black hat SEO tactics are no laughing matter, but that hasn't stopped established comic strip Dilbert from poking fun. The two recent Google-centric strips may even help raise awareness of black hat SEO practices.
The SEO Comic Strips
To say that anything SEO-related falls under the descriptor of "funnies" is presumptuous; that would suggest we have a sense of humor. Yet Dilbert has defiantly posted two consecutive SEO-related strips this week, and a variety of other SEO groups have tried their hand at mixing the completely, 5000% serious realm of SEO with the lighter side of life.
The two strips, from June 23 and 24, discuss black hat SEO – or unethical SEO practices. While the strips don't take much time explaining what black hat is, they do make a fairly clear statement on the subject: "What do you like best about that idea?" reads the second frame, referring to black-hat tactics. "The fact that it's unethical or the near certainty of getting caught?"
Unsurprisingly, the strip the next day shows the company having been caught using black hat. The result is that "Our website only shows up when someone enters the search string 'dung for brains.'" While the pointy-haired boss rants and raves about how Google can't get away with it, his computer (obviously thanks to Google) just tells him to shut his pie hole.
The Dilbert-Google Back-Scratching
The decently humorous lines are one thing to take away from the strip, certainly, but the strips also works as a major back-scratch for Google. Beyond presenting forbidden tactics as unethical and ineffective, Dilbert empowers Google in the strip – giving the company complete certainty of catching violations and even insulting violators via their computer monitor.
Dilbert and Google have scratched each other's backs before. Dilbert has placed other SEO-related comics, and Google even did a week-long Dilbert doodle back in 2002. Google co-founder Sergey Brin even said, "Dilbert has had a large influence on Google’s management style. I am planning to adopt a pointy hairdo."
Raising Awareness of Black Hat SEO through Humor
The subject most commonly discussed in the strips' comments was the exact definition of black hat SEO, largely because the Dilbert comic never gave a definition (in fact referencing "fake links," which means who knows what, as their specific tactic). Sadly, despite a lot of talk on the general topic, the page discussion hasn't given a very concrete list of "worst practices."
While one commenter brings up hidden text and cloaking (two major black hat tactics), other approaches such as scraping, fake news content, hidden links, presenting another site's branding as if it were your own, and spamming map results were never brought up. Hopefully, however, the comic will prompt those not in-the-know to figure out what exactly "black hat" means – and stop doing it, even if the pointy-haired boss tells them to.