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September 10, 2009

Black Hat, White Hat and Big G

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I read a lot of articles and postings regarding Internet marketing, SEO and the like. One frequently recurring theme is the distinction between black hat, grey hat and white hat methods. Interlaced with the use and abuse of these terms is the notion of what is “ethical” and what is not. It seems to be generally assumed that anything black hat is somehow unethical. More disconcerting yet, anything that Google frowns upon is often deemed unethical as well. I would like to clear the air about these terms which seem to mean all things to all men.

First of all, let’s put to one side for a moment the recently coined terms which euphemistically refer to SEO techniques under hats of various colors. These are not dictionary terms, and anyone can make them mean whatever they want. However, the words “ethical” and “unethical” have very strict meanings, have had for generations and their misuse can call into question the personal integrity of individuals. So what does ethical mean anyway? According to dictionary.com (http://dictionary.com/):

  1. pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.
  2. being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, esp. the standards of a profession: It was not considered ethical for physicians to advertise.

So doing something unethical is first and foremost immoral and wrong. Additionally, it may be implicitly wrong because it violates an accepted code of conduct adopted by a recognized professional body, whose moral judgement is above reproach. Given these definitions, when would Internet marketing cross the line into the realm of the unethical? Well, let’s try to ring fence the concept and limit it to what we think may be just plain wrong by any reasonable standard of measure:

  • lying to people to get them to buy your product
  • offering a product that does not meet the expectations created by your marketing material (variation on lying)
  • deliberately abusing a resource to the detriment of its owners or of the other users
  • deliberately devising strategies to deprive affiliates of their fair share of profits after they have expended money and effort to sell your product
  • fraudulently generating affiliate or other revenues

I am not suggesting that this list is exhaustive. The point I am trying to make is that something is truly unethical if it promotes falsehood, if it is to the detriment of someone or if it involves fraud. So the sixty-four dollar question is: when is SEO unethical, when is it black hat, and are the two the same thing?

The term black hat usually refers to SEO tactics that are designed to trick the search engines into ranking a page that they wouldn’t otherwise rank. Let’s apply this to the present question.

Suppose by some top secret powerful method you could trick Google into ranking your porn site for the term “clip art”. I think we would all agree that this would be unethical. Your content is potentially damaging to people, especially minors. It has absolutely nothing to do with what people are looking for when it comes up in the SERPs. It further harms Google’s reputation for providing relevant results, so it would be detrimental to the owners of an online resource.

Now, suppose that by some top secret powerful method you could trick Google into ranking your clip art site for the term “clip art”. The method is definitely black hat, because it attempts to circumvent the search engine’s algorithm. If Google really knew what was up, it would not rank the site. But you did not abuse Google’s resources, or overload their servers. You are not acting to the detriment of people searching your term because you have what they want. Quite to the contrary, the SERPs for the term “clip art” are polluted with absolutely valueless sites. You would in fact be doing everyone a big favor, Google included. But, you have done something that Google said not to do. You did “black hat” SEO.

Now it is increasingly clear that Google is beginning to believe its destiny on earth is to police the Internet and tell us all what we should and should not do. It is not the first nor will it be the last corporation to have delusions of moral superiority. But when I read articles that imply, if they do not state outright, that an SEO technique is unethical because Google said not to do it, I become concerned. This is what totalitarianism is made of: the masses cowing to bullies who invoke some self-serving principle to justify their moral high ground. It may be in order to ask whether Google itself would stoop to unethical or black hat practices. Consider just two examples of Google’s questionable behavior:

  • Anyone who has had their AdSense terminated with no explanation whatever knows that Google keeps the unpaid balance of funds in the AdSense account. They claim they keep it to refund the money to the advertisers, but do they? Just try to find an advertiser who has been victim of click fraud, and has received a refund from Google. You may be looking a long time…
  • Google uses a black hat technique known as cross-domain cookies. First let me say that cross-domain cookies are legit when needed to run a tightly integrated set of domains. For example, if your secure online store is on a domain owned by your hosting provider, you would be justified in using cross-domain cookies to carry user preferences from one domain to the other during checkout. But this is not the case when you visit any Google owned site (Blogger, YouTube…) and Google tracks you. If you log into your blogger.com (http://blogger.com/) account, then your AdSense account, Google’s all-watching eye knows you are one and the same person. Yet the two sites are entirely unrelated. This is violation of privacy.

The point I am making is that of all the companies out there, Google is not particularly qualified to lecture on right and wrong. Just how badly we have run amok on this point can be seen in this extract from an article posted on about.com (http://about.com/):

“Black Hat search engine optimization is customarily defined as techniques that are used to get higher search rankings in an unethical manner. These black hat SEO techniques usually include one or more of the following characteristics:

  • breaks search engine rules and regulations
  • creates a poor user experience directly because of the black hat SEO techniques utilized on the Web site
  • unethically presents content in a different visual or non-visual way to search engine spiders and search engine users.”

If you do not find this appalling, then we need to have a talk. According to this piece, it is unethical (morally wrong) to break search engine rules and regulations! Since when does any search engine have any right whatsoever over what I do with my web site, my shoes, my car, whatever? Creating a poor user experience is unethical? Hello??? As for their third point, we have already dealt with it. Cloaking is not unethical in itself. It is what you do with it that may be unethical. You may have to cloak because some crawler is so clueless that cloaking is the only way you can get people to find your site when they are looking for what you’ve got.

Here is another of my favorites, taken from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:

“If you believe that another site is abusing Google’s quality guidelines, please report that site…”

Abusing? It would be fine to refer to sites as not adhering to their guidelines, because adhering is something we do voluntarily. Anyone is free to adhere or to not adhere to Google’s quality guidelines. But to refer to non-adhesion as abusing? If I tell everyone to wear a red shirt, and someone wears a blue one, are they abusing my guidelines? We are on a very slippery slope here. The underlying assumption is that if you disobey Google, you are doing something wrong. For Google to take this stance is bad enough. That it is widely accepted by webmasters everywhere is serious cause for alarm.

OK, we have attempted to defined ethical and unethical. Now let’s try to answer the key question as to whether black hat is unethical. I suggest that SEO is black hat when it uses specific techniques in order to get a search engine to behave in a way that is not what its owners/designers intended. In other words, it tricks the search engines. So when is it unethical? It is unethical when it is detrimental to the owners of a resource it uses/abuses (in general, spam), or when it promotes falsehood. I would include fraud in the list if I could think of a way to use SEO fraudulently, but I can’t. (Cookie stuffing and CPA cloaking are both black hat and fraud, but unrelated to SEO).

You may argue that if I intentionally trick a search engine I am acting to its detriment by definition, and therefore to the detriment of its owners. I would respectfully disagree, and refer to the previous discussion on cloaking.

Black Hat SEO is clearly unethical when it abuses resources. It is common to automate the creation of social media accounts, create hundreds or thousands of sites and spam them with links. To camouflage the operation additional thousands upon thousands of bogus entries are scraped from RSS feeds. First, this usually violates the terms of service which would prohibit opening large numbers of accounts. Further, it pollutes the sites with rubbish. Finally it is detrimental to the owners of the site by wasting storage space and bandwidth. Does this mean that automating posting to social sites is unethical? Only if it abuses resources, violates terms of service or is harmful to people. A user agent is a user agent, whether it is called Firefox, googlebot or libwww. It’s what you do with the automation that may be unethical.

All of our SEO efforts should be done in good conscience to the benefit of our clients and to the larger community, not to appease a bully. Google’s hegemony is cause for serious concern among many informed people. Black hatting, or resisting tyranny? You decide.


Peter Adamson is a marketing geek, and creator of The Link Juicer, an online tool that is used to ‘get backlinks’ (http://www.thelinkjuicer.com/) and designed to produce long-term results through natural organic search traffic.

50 Responses to “Black Hat, White Hat and Big G

    avatar Zub says:

    That was a refreshing read on the subject. Thank you.

    avatar Rob Barnes says:

    That is one of the best articles I have read in a long time.

    avatar Brian says:

    Peter.

    Absolutely hit them in one.
    First-class rendition of the increasing Google tyranny.
    Just who do they think they are?
    Personally think it’s time out elected dictatorships took a stand with this issue.
    Brian

    avatar CP says:

    regarding click fraud – in fairness to Google we had over $8000 refunded to our account. It took approximately 3 days from the time it was reported.

    avatar Salvia Divinorum says:

    Interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

    avatar Buy Essay says:

    LOOOOOL! Such a cool post!!!

    Hey man, you got a point.
    I wonder how many times you got cited over the next week.

    I bookmarked it over my onlywire )))

    avatar Jimmy says:

    I like this post. Bookmarked it over my onlywire acc.

    avatar Gobananas says:

    Agree with 90% often google will allow sites use Adwords for sites they would class as “black hat”. Kind of sends the wrong message, can’t have your cake and eat it.

    avatar Cavan says:

    Excellent article!
    Made me think and then realise what Google is doing, is wrong.
    Google is far from perfect, they did cow tow to China’s censorship restrictions and reported peoples IP Addresses, those people were eventually jailed for their criticism/views of the communist government in blogs and emails.

    Even if we never can win against such censorship, it’s worth to fight!

    Thanks a lot!

    Konrad
    Germany

    avatar PC Remedies says:

    Really a good read. Google is really good at “Do as I say not as I do.” Thanks for the insight.

    avatar James says:

    …in the end though, google search is a service owned by google, and they can make up the rules because it belongs to them

    avatar Michelle says:

    Good thought provoking article. The discussion of ethics and morality is bound to bring about many views.

    What I think you’re forgetting though, is that Google is providing a service. It’s their website, it’s their terms and conditions. People have a choice to utilise their services on their terms and conditions or not. They’re not telling you how to do anything – they’re telling you that if you want to use their service then you need to follow certain guidelines. It’s all up to you.

    As a web surfer I google provides the best results, and as a webmaster google drives the correct traffic to my site. Why stick it to them when they provide all this free of charge?

    Of course, ethically, for me, the issue relating to adsense and cookies is different to SEO techniques. Different topics all together.

    If a person deliberately does something which is against guidelines set by a webmaster, but still wants to make use of that webmaster’s services, it’s unethical. It’s like saying, well, I’ll take whatever you have to give me, but I give you nothing in return.

    avatar Salvia Divinorum says:

    Interesting read. Thanks for sharing.
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

    avatar Brett says:

    Hi Salvia

    Understanding Search engine Optimisation is the key and don’t listen to anyone who claims they know the secret; the only secret is how good are you at getting quality back links?? and how good are you at structuring the website so that you dont repeat your text?

    Brett

    avatar Mark Andrews says:

    You could argue that even white hat techniques is trying to manipulate google, so black is white and white is black…

    Great artcle! With regard to Michelles response: yes, we are using Google’s free service on their terms (pun intended) the brilliant point of the article is that google is providing a great free service (to the general user) let’s not pretend that many people aren’t taking ad dollars to the bank in droves- hey it’s capitalism and good for them for making money, but at what point does a corporation become an authority – because they are popular (70% of Internet searches) they get to impose their ideas as the defacto standard. One could argue tha using Google is your vote towards continuing Google’s regime. Personally, I think that Google is great, but how far can they push their ideals as gospel?

    avatar Adam says:

    Simply awesome! A real open discussion of some very confusing terms.

    Agreed: There are no common definitions of white, gray and black hat. They can therefore be mushed into any definition that supports your agenda. Not good.

    Agreed: Search engine guidelines and ethics are VERY different issues. The issue of ethics in advertising has been debated in scholarly journals for a long time. But somehow they are not referenced in the SEO debate. I love Google – Great company – but they are not an elected government or a church. They are a for-profit corporation which, by charter (law), must pursue profits above all.

    In the end, there are so many opinions on this, it really confuses clients (and perhaps frustrates them). I think that transparency and honesty with your clients is more important than any of the white hat / gray hat labels. They need to know what you are doing and be comfortable with it – regardless of what people call it.

    avatar Rick Eliason says:

    This has got to be the most thought provoking and opinion-turning article I have ever read on the topic of SEO. Well done for going against the grain and standing up for this. Talk about trying to take over the world….

    WOW! What an article!

    I just realised that the Black hat phrase is used by the clients – people who do not understand SEO. People who perform SEO tasks, would not really use that term. Presuming they understand what they are doing.

    I never paid any attention to it actually.

    Your article describes why SEO gurus would never call their work Black Hat.

    With the exception of some known public SEO ‘events’ like BMW being ‘blacklisted’ because of a ‘hidden text’ etc.

    Great, great article…

    avatar B says:

    Beware of Black Hat SEO companies such as Future Ranking, Captures, and anyone who calls you up out of the blue. Fraudulent companies such as these guys have been slapped up and down by the attorney generals office and other lawyers and are on thin ice constantly. I personally don’t think these guys are smart enough to pull off black hat SEO techniques because they hire nothing but unethical salesmen who know nothing about internet marketing and there really isn’t a team of qualified technicians. If anyone calls you up trying to obtain SEO services from you slap them on the had at once because it is unsolicited. They will probably get you banned from the search engines because all they do is spam your website to the search engines and directories every month with Internet Business Promoter. No actual labor goes on with these guys and I am sure half of them have criminal records. Anyone who promises you a top 10 ranking on Google needs to be shut down. Top 10 rankings on Google require a little more than a loser with automated software to run your website. How to avoid them…. They usually target people who are fresh to the internet. Lots of people who desire to become rich off the internet are unaware of the Black Hat predators. These people usually attend an internet marketing seminar such as Stores Online and other entrepreneur workshops. They comb the internet looking for fresh websites that deal with e-commerce internet marketing. They will guarantee you Google top 10 rankings and also show you prices of other competitors to try and make you feel like you are getting a good deal. SEO companies should have more than enough clients and be too busy to call you up to try and get your business. Search for reviews on the companies and talk to their competitors who live in the same area. Their competitors will give you the dirt on them to try and gain your business. There is no other guarantee then to guarantee to rip you off.

    avatar Pete says:

    Significant facts… but they don’t cover it all… Google and its developing algo also want to attribute value to other, often unwarranted additional business-related factors such as videos, blogs, images, texts, and so forth, standardizing the obligation for businesses to blindly follow these footsteps to gain, if not maintain, website popularity in Google’s SERPs…
    Hum…
    How many companies can unilaterally reward and punish businesses for doing it or NOT doing it “their way”?
    Hum… much more is happening under the hood here…
    Business is being radically redefined by one group’s capacity to get somewhat childlike “artificial intelligence” become the 21st century’s Guiding Light” Hum…

    Scary ain’t it? the new child-god!

    Wow! That was certainly detailed, and from the beginning had me guessing which hat you would be wearing. Lol

    But you are so right. Some of the guidelines are questionable and yes they change month to month at times. The search algorhisms have certainly changed. But I will say some for the better, but there is room for improvement.

    But this was a fantastic article from start to finish

    Thanks

    avatar Danaville » Blog Archive » webmaster says:

    […] SiteProNews: webmaster News %26 Resources » Blog Archive » Black Hat . I read a lot of articles and postings regarding Internet marketing, SEO and the like. One frequently recurring theme is the distinction between black hat, grey hat and white hat methods. […]

    avatar Catherine says:

    I may not like what Google says, or actually their attitude while saying it, but it’s their vehicle I’m using. If I want the world according to Cahterine, I should start my own search engine. Good article, it’s making people think.

    avatar Pete says:

    My point exactly… Here on http://videos.webpronews.com/2009/09/11/new-hope-for-publishing-industry/

    …Some are trying to “essentially “undo” an approximated 154-year-old (Newspaper writing) system”

    Yeah… evolve or die… yeah, right, in 15 seconds flat to fit into Search Engine’s BabyBots simplifying the actual real world into Google’s (and other SE) 1, 2, 3 worded “Sound Bytes”…

    Yep… that’s the Google & al. Revolution… way below the evolutionary process having made complexity the matrix of life up to now…

    avatar John Hayes says:

    I learned as a child that if a candy bar is jointly owned ( by say brothers) that the person that divides it shouldn’t be the first to pick. That could lead to an unfair conclusion of the distribution of the resource .

    If a friend comes down the street with his candy bar and offers to share that candy bar with you, he may fairly divide that bar in any way he wants, take first pick and the result will be a fair distribution of that resource because he owned all the candy bar.

    IMHO Google owns all the candy bars and if you want some you need to make friends with Google.

    If Google wants to make the rules about how to be Google’s friend before he will share his candy bar he also has that right.

    That Google also has another agenda related to giving out candy bars pieces is none of your concern.

    If someone misrepresents why they should be Google’s friend and Google later refuses to give them any more candy I can’t argue that is unfair.

    I hope that’s not too technical . If you don’t want Google’s candy walk away.

    avatar Pete says:

    Yes, John, that point was abundantly made right from the start. I think it was well made and started a line of reflection that widened since. Other aspects of being a top dog also relates to this discussion, I think. People’s experience of Google’s monopoly (yeah, let’s tell it like it is) is still relevant to, at least, their own experience. I’m an SEO operating since 1998… so I’ve seen daily occurrences of Google’s miracles, disasters and misconduct a few times over, throughout the last 11 years… and still counting…). At this point, comparing such a monopoly (no matter how it achieved it) with what could be also called as a candy bar-giving control-freak seems somewhat over-simplifying a much much wider set of complex circumstance. Some other types of people also give candy bars to unsuspecting children… and all for free… How great is that??!! The mob may also operate by giving away their own type of “candy bars” to get you to play on their side… or suffer the consequence. So let’s leave that somewhat weak comparative terrain. In the greater world of ideas, seeing beyond the literal issue sometimes brings greater awareness of other things that some might not be aware of. That’s what I like about communications… Not achieving an universal truth, but an universal awareness of difference and complexity. Thanks SiteProNews & Peter Adamson for opening what was, to some, an already slightly opened door about any monopoly, including those riding (or should I say rigging) the stock exchange… Still a love story according to Michael More’s soon-to-be-released film… CapitalismALoveStory.com

    avatar Simon Hensby says:

    Excellent article.

    Re John’s candy bars above. What happens when some spoiled little brat tells Google not to give that boy any candy because he smells, and Google agrees turning his back on the small boy without even sniffing him to see if he’s OK.

    I have done everything in accordance with Google rules since they began (my site was on the web when Alta Vista was the only serious search engine and Google hadn’t been heard of). However, Google keeps changing their rules and as a non seo person I have trouble keeping up. My site used to have a PR of 5 and 6. Now I struggle to keep a 3, why? Because my site is old, a lot of fans link to me from all kinds of home pages and forums and all parts of the world. The result is that Google sees these as irrelevant links and so penalises me. Is that fair?

    I ran a nice little Google Group for my members giving them info and news. My middle son has ADHD so I happened to join another Google group on ADHD. My first intro post and some old bag reports me for spam. Why I don’t know but many other members comment in my favour saying this woman apparently reports all new users as spam as she wants all the attention. I think nothing of it and after a couple of days, suddenly I’m banned from Google Groups and I can no longer access the admin of my own group. Can you complain to Google…. no, they don’t listen, they just merrily send me new member requests which I can no longer administer, plus I can’t tell my members why they don’t hear from me anymore. Is that fair?

    @CP: That is encouraging. However I have personally experienced an abnormal spike in CTR unexplainable by anything but fraud or bots and Google’s response was more or less “Click fraud? What click fraud?”

    @Michelle: I totally agree with what you are saying when taken at face value. If I avail myself of a service then I should comply with the terms to the best of my understanding of those terms. Where Google is concerned this includes using their search engine to find something, using their free keyword tool to research keywords, and using Google Analytics among others. However, that is not what is being discussed here. When I put up a web site and Google crawls it and displays a link to it in their results pages, I am not using any service of theirs (they are actually using mine). I can only be bound by Terms of Service if I use a service. This is not the case with search engine results. Yet I recently read a forum post claiming that a certain backlinking method was “against Google’s TOS”. If someone posts a link on a site that does not belong to Google how can they be in violation of Google’s TOS? This is the type of thinking that the above article is challenging.

    Thank you for the thought provoking article – not the usual mindless dribble churned out every day by many newsletters.

    It is easy to get caught up in accetping Google as Gospel, and I found your perspective refreshing. It made me stop and think, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of the hundreds of SEO articles I’ve read in the past year!

    avatar Bill Platt says:

    I agreed with Mark Andrews when he said, “You could argue that even white hat techniques is trying to manipulate google, so black is white and white is black…”

    I have always kind of felt that anyone taking action to change how one site ranks in Google above another is actually trying to manipulate the results, so therefore, there is not much difference between blackhat and whitehat SEO, except for the labels we put on it.

    The ethical and unethical argument was a good distinction, to describe one kind or another, but the color hats is totally without value.

    avatar PeterC says:

    GOOGLE RULES!! Well for a little while longer maybe!!
    We are all trying to make a living, Google has some pretty good tools, they have opened up the misterious and magic world of Webmasters to all, I’l use it till it suits me….. after that they’ll be dumped in the obscure recesses of web-history….

    This artical has very interesting and Analytical/ Ethical 😉 view.

    I am in doubt if Big G has started following M$, doesn’t she?

    avatar Cortaflex says:

    Ummm, what about grey hat!

    avatar Kate says:

    This is what I’ve been saying for years. Essentially, Google has become too big for its boots. It’s not that the people who run Google are “bad”; it’s simply that it has become a corporate giant with way too much power over what happens on the web.
    What many website owners also fail to understand is that Google is their competitor. The lion’s share of the revenue to be made online is gobbled up by Google. Everyone else gets the crumbs.
    Google “penalizes” websites which sell links (and this obviously includes selling *listings*), yet selling links is precisely what Google does itself!
    Google “penalizes” sites that have duplicate content: but if you do a Google search for “free articles” or “free content for your website”, the first sites listed are sites containing thousands of items of duplicate content (eg, goarticles.com). What’s more, Google accepts AdWord ads from them!
    (Incidentally, Google “prohibits” duplicate content – but how does it know whether a site is the originator or plagiarizer of that content? In other words, if I write an article and publish it on my site and it is “re-published” on six other websites, does Google penalize all seven sites – including mine – for publishing duplicate content?)

    “For Google to take this stance is bad enough. That it is widely accepted by webmasters everywhere is serious cause for alarm.”

    The problem is that webmasters don’t have any choice in the matter. A friend of mine who ran a holiday letting agency went out of business last year after being in business for almost ten years. The reason? His Google listing disappeared one day (having been on the first SR pages for years), and despite all his efforts it never reappeared. Traffic to his website – most of which came via Google – dried up instantaneously, and within a couple of months he was out of business.
    When companies can be shut down like this, and hard-working people lose their livelihood, on the whim of a search engine, that search engine has too much power.

    I appreciate the bold but fair criticism of Google and its self appointed position as “The Internet Cop.” It wouldn’t be such an issue if Google was more consistent. For example, we’re doing our best to build links in a very “White Hat” sort of way. However, when I look at my Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) account, I find very few of the links there were reported via Google Alerts are listed in GWT. What gives?

    original content laid out in a simple manner with basic SEO is likley to bring you more conversion traffic than masses of traffic from black/greyHAT techniques. This i believe is what google is trying to show us… being a ‘super power’ search engin the messege could easily be shown as ‘rules’ lol

    […] found this great post over on SiteProNews that explores the ethics of search-engine optimisation (SEO), and just who gets to define what is and isn’t acceptable (hint: Google).  It really […]

    Very thought provoking article. With regards to black hat and white hat SEO, all SEO uses priniciples which are designed to manipulate the search engine to produce the keyword relevant results in the search listings that have been optimised for. Obviously those prinicples which are unethical as determined by Google are to be avoided otherwise a site could be penalised.

    avatar MasterLinker says:

    Fantastic article! I have been preaching this for a long time and it’s a treat to see that you wrote such a great article about it.

    You said it best: just because Google doesn’t like it, that doesn’t mean it’s unethical.

    Google is trying to police the entire SEO world because their fortune is built upon how they use backlinks to rank websites. If website owners change the playing field, then Google needs to adjust, not the other way around.

    […] up! There is lots to do out there that does not depend on Google!! Also, read my article here: SiteProNews: Webmaster News & Resources Blog Archive Black Hat, White Hat and Big G It might help you put the whole thing into a new […]

    The use of ‘black hat’ SEO isn’t by itself unethical, the reason it is regarded as such is because:

    1- Most black hat SEOs don’t tell their customers it has a risk of the customer’s site been banned in Google
    2- Most black hat sites are lies/scams or made for adsence sites that provide no content for the user (not all but most)
    3- Most of the Google guidelines basically say ‘Don’t try and scam the user’ which is unethical. If someone wastes my time for their own goals its unethical and greedy. In general (but not always) breaking the Google guidelines is unethical

    Google isn’t always right but its hardly as bad as a lot of the people above make out.

    You don’t like Google’s rules, well thats fine but don’t expect them to modify their rules for you or to rank in THEIR search engine. They haven’t really appointed themselves Internet cop, they are mearly policing their own Index/search results.

    If you are complaining about that then you’ve got a more serious problem than your SERPs position 😉
    The only reason this is a problem at all is because they are the biggest search engine so everyone thinks that they MUST be on Google or they aren’t on the web.

    avatar Kate says:

    John Hayes’s candy bar comparison is nonsensical, imo.

    He says: “If you don’t want Google’s candy walk away”.

    But that’s the problem; you can’t walk away from a “search engine” that has a virtual monopoly on search, with 85% (here in Europe anyway) of the search market cornered.

    What’s more, Google doesn’t HAVE any candy. The “candy” in this case is content, and it is we, the webmasters and website owners, who produce it. Google produces nothing, except systems and gizmos to exploit the work of other people.

    avatar Russell says:

    Hey, I’ve been researching SEO for my school project and this article was really helpfull. thanks!

    avatar Matt says:

    Really useful article, that I think still applies in 2013!

    avatar PlanetRovers says:

    Informative Article. Good Read!

    avatar Ali | SEO says:

    I found this article very informative for my studies!
    Great to see everyone’s opinion on the various techniques that can be used.

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