State of SEO 2016: Is Black Hat SEO Really Dead?
The white hat vs. black hat SEO debate rages on. And many remain confused. Blogger Gareth Simpson, an SEO Consultant based in Bristol, UK, offered this post to help you get your head around the issue.
The way that SEO marketing has been going over the last few years seems to proudly proclaim the death of all black hat methods, nailing the coffin lid shut unceremoniously in blog post after blog post.
White hat SEO and white hat link-building are now being touted as the only way to do SEO in 2016. But if search engines officially want completely unmanipulated search results, where do you draw the line with white hat link-building? Isn’t some white hat SEO really taking a leaf out of the black hat book? It’s time to cut through the hype and be honest about the state of SEO.
Origins of the white hat/black hat divide
During the history of trade & commerce, there’s always been people willing to take risks and use ‘creative’ tactics to sell products or services. In that way, black hat SEO is no different to many other forms of marketing and selling.
After Google had made backlinks a ranking factor, differentiating itself from all other search engines at the time, SEO really took off. Black hat tactics flooded the internet, from keyword stuffing to blog comment spam and content cloaking. For many years, these tactics were widely used across the entire SEO community. It wasn’t until a few years ago that Google made a lot of people in SEO clear up their act, after it had finally developed algorithms to sift through SERPS better.
Google hit out with its succession of updates targeting low quality SEO: Panda in 2011, Penguin in 2012 and Hummingbird in 2013. This post recaps some of the updates’ effects on SEO.
Many sites, link farms and blog networks were hit with massive penalties, some never recovering. This scared people into clearing up their SEO act; many SEOs renounced their black hat ways- saying goodbye to spam and tactics like hiding text from users ‘for good’. Many felt that black hat SEO would never recover.
But now, years later, black hat SEO seems to be still very much around, despite proclamations to the contrary. So if black hat SEO is not dead, what is happening to it instead? Where is SEO, both white hat and black hat, going in 2016? (more…)