Know Your Enemy, The SEO Malpractitioner

I thought it fitting to kick off my blog with a discussion of my hat color.


Wait for it…

I don’t care.

It’s not to say I don’t have a code of ethics I go by, or that I don’t see myself having certain attributes normally assigned to one of the groups defined as white, black, beige, or gray. It is simply I don’t see it being of relevance.

Too much is made of the hat color nonsense.

It breaks down in a simple way in my eyes.

If you come from a strong programing background, with the ability to easily manipulate PHP, Ajax, and Javascript, you are more likely to be labeled a blackhat, because your skill set puts you in that category. If you are an SEO coming from a writing, advertising, or public relations background, you are often seen as a white hat SEO, because your skill set puts you in that category.

If you are an SEO that looks at the Internet much like an investor buying stock on margin, making the quick dollar and moving to the next payoff, you are likely black hat. If you control sites owned by an established business, or run your own e-businesses, based on the concept of longevity in the market, you are likely white hat.

Does that mean if you are a developer you have to be “black hat”? No. But in reality who cares?

“Spam sucks!,” alleged white hats scream.

Fine, but isn’t it the job of the search engines to filter out Spam? And isn’t it our job as marketers to make ourselves and our clients money?

Spam in search, by definition, is a manipulation of search parameters to create a listing for a site that may not be equivalent to its actual relevance. Isn’t that the goal of every SEO, no matter their hat color?

We all deceive the engines, we all game, but because we do it in different ways we cast stones and aspersions.

What makes this entire battle even more counterproductive is the fact that without black hats, white hats do not have innovations such as 301 redirections of domains with link equity to less effective domains. And without white hats we likely do not have the concept of social media optimization through high quality content.

Both sides use each other, and the dichotomy is needed.

So who is the real enemy in our field? Who is the culprit behind our craft still being looked at like voodoo?

It is the SEO snake oil salesman. The SEO Malpractitioner. The half-informed con artist that has learned enough to soak legitimate business owners out of fees for SEO services that amount to little more than Meta keywords, search engine submissions, and that are based on guarantees.

This person is the enemy of every SEO, black, or white hat. Why? Because it is this individual that keeps our profession from being viewed in a legitimate light by Fortune 500 companies (not to say many companies are not already in the game, but just as many aren’t.)

For those of you that might not know the tell tale signs of an SEO malpractitioner here you go:

1- The person that cold calls telling you that you are not showing up in the rankings

2- The person that cold emails telling you that you are not showing up in the rankings

3- The person that says that you need to focus on Meta keywords. They have been pronounced legally dead.

4- As soon as someone guarantees results, run away like your hair is on fire! No one can control search engines, and even highly skilled black hats that can turn around top search rankings quickly will not guarantee #1 rankings.

5- Someone that offers to submit your site to search engines. Build a few links to your site, and tell them to hump somebody elses leg.

6- Someone that offers sites they have optimized without references. Come on, you did the work, but you don’t remember the contact information for the site owner?

7-Claims to know any search engines algorithm. If they did, they would not be cold calling your dry cleaning business.

8-Has a standardized link building approach. First we do press releases, then we do…. Every market is different, every company needs a unique plan.

If you encounter a person like this please email me . I will bring all 6’2″ , 285 pounds of myself down to their office (if they have one) and river dance on their face.

This person makes it difficult for the rest of us. What should really piss black hats off, is that this person is often labeled as “black hat.” This person, who has a base understanding of search, is thrown into the same category as some of our industries greatest innovators.

I know that this discussion leads to the icky industry standards discussion, which I think could be creativity killer. What would make more sense, would be a set of industry bizzaro standards, a list of what is utter nonsense, and libel to have a huge man river dancing on your face.

Oh, and by the way, while I don’t really see my hat as having a color, I do know it’s velvet and has a feather in it.

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