White Hat SEO Techniques, There are None

white hate seo techniquesAnother SEO article in response to a question I got asked recently.  This question was about SEO and more specifically what White Hat SEO techniques I use.

Friend: “Adam, what are your White Hat SEO Techniques? What tools do you use?

Me: “There are None!”

You might think this is a strange response but that is the reality for SEO companies.  I do mean that, there are virtually zero White Hat SEO techniques marketing and search engine optimization companies use to rank sites and build links.

Yes, White Hat SEO techniques do exist and people do use them.   However, most of them are ridiculously time consuming.  This includes guest blogging, submitting to article directories, social bookmarking, web directory submissions, straight up link requests, social media, etc.  You could do all this yourself and do it all manually, meaning you don't have a computer program or bot do it.  That's just not the way a lot of companies operate though and most will automate a lot of these tasks.

Big SEO agencies and firms that have a plethora of SEO tools and staff will still use programs to speed these tasks up.  The reality is it's a pain-in-the-ass and they can spend money on SEO tools and software to do it quicker.  The real question is why wouldn't you do the same thing?  Even if you feel it's Gre yHat SEO or Black Hat SEO, it's what people do.  Nobody is playing fair and it's not like it is a secret.  I'll give you an example.

Lately I've been working on a local SEO campaign for a client.  When I did a link analysis on the competitor ranking in the number 1 spot in Google I saw the company had a bunch of paid links in directory sites with the anchor text for the keyword phrase.  Technically it is against Google's guidelines to accept money for a link or pay for links, but why would the SEO agency or the company ranking 1st care?  They ranked the site 1st and did their job and the company is gaining business because of the favorable search ranking.  Even it is a Greyhat SEO or even Blackhat SEO technique it's not like Google has caught them.  I honestly doubt they ever will.  It's been at the number 1 spot for quite awhile and lots of people buy links.  It's been going on since the beginning of SEO practically and even the people in the 2nd and 3rd spot paid for links.  So, what am I going to do?  Recommend to this client we buy links from these directories and other sites to rank quicker, but I will explain Google's guidelines to him.

Get this through your head, just because Google says they don't like something or certain Blackhat SEO technique will not work, that actually is not always the case. Google tells you how they wished everyone acted and they wish the Google search engine worked.  The way Google's algorithm actually works can vary a lot from what they say and can be quite frustrating for those new to the world of SEO.  Follow all of Google's BS advice and you will not get anywhere.  Most professional SEOs are going to tell you the same thing.

I will be honest a lot of the tools and techniques I use are not considered “Whitehat SEO.”  I can't pull data in any other way without using some Google trickery.  If you read my article on “6 Questions to ask a Search Engine Optimizer Before you Hire Them” you will understand why.

The big issue with Google is that they are out there in California holding hands telling themselves how awesome they are since they build self-driving cars and Google Glass.  The believe everyone is in this internet thing together in a hippie commune and people will help each other out with links when necessary.  That is never the case and if Google search engineers, especially Matt Cutts, wanted a reality check they should step out of their Google bubble and get out in the ‘real world' of trying to build and rank a website.  They should also go read articles and posts that rank in Google instead of looking at fucking numbers all day, since nobody gives a shit about your algorithm.  They only care when it doesn't work.

You might think this is jaded, but I am only trying to convey what reality is.  If you want to compete I'd recommend you go out there and see what SEO Tools and Software you could buy to speed-up your link building.  There are White Hate SEO techniques just… nobody sticks to them.

Paid Links, one of Blogging’s Dirty Secrets

paid links

A few weeks ago I was reading a few successful and highly trafficked blogs.  I was quickly looking through what I thought was a well written article when all of a sudden the article flow came to a halt and I noticed something interesting but not unusual… paid links in the article.

Was I surprised?  No, not really since paid links are one of the dirty little secrets in blogging and the SEO (search engine optimization) industry that nobody really likes to talk about.  However, I will since I am not afraid of touching on taboo internet marketing topics I will.

What are Paid Links?

Paid Links are pretty self-explanatory and sound exactly like what you think they are.  It's when a site owner or blogger agrees to place a link on their website in exchange for cash.  The link is mostly always a DoFollow link which passes pagerank onto the other site.  Sometimes the SEO company gives you the article content and other times they'd rather a blogger work the link into an article so it makes sense.

The amount of money a company has to pay is usually determined by a site's pagerank, age of the domain, authority of the site, amount of traffic, and the authority of the blogger.  I've seen some people charge as much as $1,500+ per year for a link.  Sounds like a lot but when you hear what some SEO agencies charge, some bloggers should be asking for more.

In case of of the big time blogger I was reading she probably charged a lot for the link since it was for freezing women's eggs (embryos).  More importantly her demographic seems to be women 22-40 years old.  The medical company was aiming for wealthy women 20-30 years old probably.  (Although the article and blog is not entirely aimed at women.)  Most people know that health (and fitness) is a very profitable internet vertical.  If you are in fertility and cord blood and can manage to get paid for a link for it, that's some serious money.

What does Google think of Paid Links?

Google frowns upon companies and people paying for links and it is against their Webmaster guidelines.  (It would be good to read them if you haven't by the way.)  However, few people that engage in paid link schemes get caught.

Since Google is not on the side of bloggers making any real money honestly… fuck them.  They are many ways to monetize a blog but few that pay well enough so you can make a living.  Paid links are one of the best and most profitable solutions if you are someone with an authority blog.  (Of course creating an authority blog nowadays is no easy task.)

The blogger in question will probably never get caught and will not face any Google penalties.  I don't like she was using paid links and misleading her readers, but quite honestly it's not like I don't understand why she was doing it and haven't seen it before.

Keep in mind Google employs engineers that can't read for shit.  Just look at search results for competitive topics like domain names, web hosting, medicine, etc.  Low quality spammy sites still rank 1st or 2nd in a lot of cases.

How Did You Know the article had Paid Links?

It wasn't like the blogger explicitly said, “Hey these are paid links.” but I knew immediately since;

  1. The article lost it's flow at that point.
  2. They were medical related sites for freezing women's eggs.  Which in turn made me say, “WTF is this?”
  3. The keywords used were highly competitive.
  4. It was deep linked URL.

When you add it all up it was clear this blogger's article on, “6 Things to do in your 20s to make your 30s good” had paid links placed in it.  At least that is my “expert” opinion.

Paid Links Conclusion

Next time you are reading one of the millions of blogs out on the internet I encourage my readers to be aware of paid links.  It's good to be aware of how other bloggers monetization and content strategies.  This is why I try to read a wide variety of authors and bloggers.  You get an idea of how they target their content and who they is reading them, especially when you notice paid links.

On this blog I've had plenty of link requests but since it is a personal blog, I do not accept any of them.  I haven't been offered money for this blog yet but if a person or company did, I wouldn't accept it.

What do you think of paid links?  Is it ok for a blogger to use them to cover the costs and time they need to put into a blog?  Should they be upfront with readers?  Have you been offered money for a link on your site?