I have a fascination with black hat SEO. If you tweet a link about a black hat SEO technique, I’m clicking on it. Fantasizing about instant forbidden fortunes while outsmarting the uber nerds at Google sounds like a lot of fun. It’s a heist without the threat of jail time.

So why haven’t I ever indulged in my black hat day dreams? There are ethical reasons, I guess. Junking up the Internet with thousands of pages about bad debt can’t make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. But the bigger reason isn’t altruistic. I just don’t think becoming good at black hat spammer makes you rich over the long run.

Without question, you can make really good money short term. When I say really good money though, I mean hundreds of thousands of dollars over a relatively short period of time. Excuse me while I yawn. Hundreds of thousands of dollars wouldn’t induce involuntary yawning if it were easy or sustainable The problem is, it’s neither. To make hundreds of thousands of dollars using black hat techniques, you have to be awesome. Like anything, to be awesome you have to work hard. You have to research, learn a little programming, network, try stuff, employ creativity and probably even build a team. Hard work is hard.

If you’re building a sustainable business, hard work is justified. Building a business that is inevitably going to get decimated with one keystroke from Mountain View, doesn’t make sense to me. When Matt Cutts brings your spam empire to its knees, then what? You’ve built systems, skill sets and techniques that no longer have value. Some of that brain equity might be transferable to other black hat techniques, but many times it isn’t. So now you start over and try to find the next new hit. Maybe it will come, but maybe it won’t.

All that time could have been spent building a business that doesn’t face inevitable destruction. Google isn’t even the real threat to black hat spammers. Black hatters are battling human evolution. Human nature has an innate desire to evolve. Any business that is based on fighting evolution will lose over the long run. Over time, building a profitable business that benefits society is simply easier.

If you have a black hat technique, I’ll listen with genuine fascination and compliment your creativity, but I’m not about to set up a bunch of hosting accounts with aliases. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a business to build.

For those of you who are interested, here are a couple of black hat SEO videos on building blog networks. It’s fascinating, but it sure does sound like a lot of work:


  1. I’ve made money doing some grey-hat stuff, but I’ve made much more launching and ultimately selling a proper long-term business. Much more. That said, I used the grey-hat earnings to seed fund the ‘real’ business, so there you go…

    The level of competition however now vs. 5 years ago in the black/grey-hat market is far higher now, enough that it probably couldn’t happen again.

    09/23/11 at 12:21 pm

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