Richard Adams I came across an interesting discussion on a marketing forum recently that I’d like to relay to you now. In it, Adsense marketers were discussing what percentage of their sites are white hat and which are black hat. As an aside for a moment, a «white hat» website refers to it being «squeeky clean» and following all the search engine rules – a hand-built site offering original content and a quality experience for visitors.
«Black hat» sites, in contrast, utilize many «underhanded» or «didgy» techniques such as «borrowing» content in the form of articles, search engine results, RSS feeds and forum posts then using automated software to spit out hundreds if not thousands of low quality pages in a matter of minutes. The search engines generally frown on these «black hat» techniques as they fill up their listings with hundreds of «junk» sites and make it increasingly hard for them to do their jobs – providing high quality results so users can find exactly what they’re looking for quickly and easily. The claim by one marketer was that white hat sites take a long time to build (he’s right) and they are often penalized just as much by the search engines, so why bother? The answer to that question is twofold. Firstly, in my experience, a properly built and marketed white hat site won’t be penalized in the search engines (unless the owner decides to try some gray-area marketing tricks). The second part of the answer is that black hat Adsense marketing is an arms race. In nature species evolve to try and better each other’s weapons. A plant develops poisonous sap to try and prevent insects from eating it’s leaves.
But then a caterpillar develops a way to «filter out» the toxins, so it can still eat the leaves, and then uses the toxins to make itself poisonous.
In doing so it makes itself less attractive to predators and so actually is likely to live longer. And so the never-ending battle continues. If you take part in black hat strategies you must resign yourself to the fact that you will be the predator or worse, the parasite, in this arms race whilst the search engines represent the provider. They continue to develop new techniques at a dizzying pace to remove black hat Adsense sites from their listings (and so reduce the income of those marketers) whilst the marketers themselves try to develop ever more powerful ammunition to try and go unnoticed. If you’re happy with constantly having sites delisted or even banned, and having to constantly rebuild your network then go ahead, but remember that white hat sites have been, and continue to be, perrenial winners with the search engines. And that’s likely to continue for a long time yet.