said 4 months, 1 week ago:
That is quite a lot to wrap your head around, isn’t it? And I do agree with most of what’s been said here.
But here’s the reality of the net… IF I’m being totally honest with myself. The “hats” I can choose to wear at any given time fall on a continuum.
White hat is putting up “content” with no seo. If Google finds it, it’s a miracle.
Black hat is doing seo to rank a site, then putting content up to keep you ranked, as well as putting up content that earns money. What it says doesn’t matter, as long as what the content says earns you money.
The first is a hobby. The second is a business.
The first earns no money, except by chance or miracles
The second has a chance to earn money, with or without miracles and with or without fraud.
Everything else online is NOT entirely white hat, so it is NOT white hat.
There is no “seo” that is white hat, nor can it ever be white hat. It’s seo.
Giving Google what it wants or asks for or tolerates or writes an algorithm to favor is not “white hat.” It’s just what Google wants, but that doesn’t make it “white hat.”
Everything else done online — between doing nothing except putting up content and doing everything to rank and then putting up content — falls in between totally white or black hats. And that’s exactly where 99.9% of all of us fall… in the NOT white hat category, no matter where we fall on that white-grey-black spectrum.
I don’t think anyone thought that ONE company could end up controlling most of the “search” done online. Having ONE company decide what is right and wrong, deciding what THEY want to reward financially is the real problem.
Google has one mandate as a business, as does any other business, and that is to make a profit for its owners or shareholders. To not do so is mismanagement or worse and can get them into legal trouble with shareholders, owners, regulatory agencies, and prosecutors alike.
Like the owner of the magazine “Business Atlanta” told me 20 years ago in an interview, “Robin, the business of business is business. There is no other business for a magazine to pursue. If it is a business, it must earn money. It can choose to print news or whatever it likes, but the business of any news business — whether print, radio or tv — is to earn money. It has no other business [purpose]. If it does, it won’t earn money nor be a business for long.”
So as we each personally decide what it is that we will or won’t do ethically in our own business, we all need to face the fact that if we do ANY seo at all… we have stepped into the grey and are definitely not white hat warriors… at all.
So then we’re faced with… how much grey can our conscience take? How much unethical work can we tolerate from our own hands? Everybody’s doing it and if I don’t, I can’t compete. Why has Google put me in such a dilemma?
Like it or not, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel, anyone in this business who does any kind of seo is not white hat…. is not doing white hat work.
I wish things were different, but they’re really not.
We are left to ponder ethics, a sinful lack of search engine competition with ONE monopoly running the show… and the totally arbitrary rules and hoops they shuffle us through that ultimately decides who shall win or lose or get rich or go bankrupt at the toss of a coin… with all of this pushing ethics more toward the brink of no ethical return the longer it goes on..
Sam, the link you shared was most interesting to me because it shows someone daring to get back to the basic work a simple phone book used to do.
He listed his name, phone number, street address, website address, and email address… and gave a brief couple of paragraphs about what the guy does for a living. A simple phone listing you’d see repeated in every phone book in his area that he chooses to be found in, whether he had to pay for that listing or not.
And in this forum, we are contemplating whether his retro back to basics… back to a simple phonebook listing… is ethical… is white hat… is Google worthy… and should he be punished… sandboxed… penalized. Wow… what are we thinking?
No, we don’t use paper phonebooks anymore. The internet is our phonebook. And so we now question the ethics of someone who has made a simple phone book page for his business. Lol, it’s really pretty funny that we’ve turned our vision so upside down because of what? Google? Ranking systems? Seo? It makes me giggle… with a gasp at the end… and a sigh to cap it all off.
So after pondering the coffee-cup-seo-consultant’s poor little phone book web page, I set my brain to thinking outside this technological box we’ve placed ourselves in.
My question is… when addressing “content” issues and ranking and seo and search engines… how did we get to the place where looking up a number in the phonebook was an “ethical” question in the first place?
Is the real problem the “10-spot” arbitrary limit that Google has placed on the “first page” that has given “ranking” its huge perceived scarcity value? What would happen if the “index” you see as search results ALL appeared on one scrolling or webbed mindmap-like page so no one was “first”? Or if there were another way to present this info in a more fair, balanced, and “non-ranking” way?
I mean… without the “10-spot” arbitrary search ranking system… or the “7-pack” local search system… would there even be a conversation about white hat or black hat ranking professionals (seo professionals)? Would we see that seo consultant’s webpage for what it really is… a phone listing… a webpage listing… without debating the ethics of… a phone directory or web directory?
Sorry for the book… but I’m totally intrigued by what new invention or system will come along to snap people and businesses back into having a conscience and sense of ethics about competition again.
What’s going on is not competitive. It’s anti-competitive. It’s exactly what the Sherman and RICO Acts were designed to prevent — an enterprise that controls a contrived system that manipulates competitive commerce by force, fraud, anti-competitive or unscrupulous means.
And while every company’s goal is to be #1 in their marketplace, I don’t for a minute think Google really wants to be in the spot they’ve found themselves in — being in total control of interstate, international, and internet businesses. All businesses… at least to an unnatural degree.
While I’d love the money that comes with that… I wouldn’t want to be in control of nor responsible for all commerce, all business, all life.
Pull the plug, turn out the lights, and Google and everyone else stops? No. We just start over or do something different. So the question remains…
What is it that WE need to do, not Google, that’s different… that gives us our conscience back… that’s doable online.., that solves our search problem… that solves our ability to be found by customers and potential customers… that requires NO black hat… that’s fair… that works… and that interferes with no one’s ability and right to make money?
Just thinkin’… about this interesting discussion… and where it all leads… and what might be next… and which teenager will invent it. And hoping he or she will be strong enough to withstand the storm that will surely come his way, too, for having created something so… fair.