Many internet marketers turn to blackhat methods – for various reasons – and for some it actually works for a while. Unfortunately, wearing a black hat (in internet marketing) comes at a price – and it’s probably higher than you are willing top pay.
Allow me to elaborate…
Firstly, let’s look at what constitutes blackhat marketing methods: It includes any practice which is unethical, or violates the terms of service of any website, service or platform you may be using.
In short, anything you do to either mislead people, or to mass-automate activities you should be doing manually, will be classified as “black hat”.
In terms of misleading people, you can see things like people presenting themselves as pretty girls in order to get people to visit dating sites or adult websites. You see people posting “jobs” on Cragislist, and then send them information on doing surveys (for which they get referral commissions), or they send them to a recruiting site which pays them per click or per placement.
As far as mass automation goes, people to mass backlink building, mass posting to social groups, mass following and connecting on social networks, mass messaging, scraping emails (or buying scraped emails) and then sending offers to those people…
The list goes on.
Fair enough, if you are desperate, the short term results might actually land a few bucks in your pocket. Unfortunately, there is one problem with blackhat methods:
The results don’t last, but the damage does.
Let me explain:
Firstly, when using mass automation in any way, it usually involves violating the terms of service of some website, platform or service supplier. Sending mass invitations and messages on a social network is always a violation. Sending email offers to scraped email addresses will eventually have your domain balcklisted, and your autoresponder company closing down your account. Building backlinks en masse will simply raise red flags with Google, and get your website dropped from the search results – completely.
Yes, you can open a new social account (most professional black hatters use many different accounts) – but it will get shut down again before it really picks up speed (hence the reason why black hatters need so many accounts). And yes, you can register a new domain, but then you have to start working from scratch to build new backlinks.
Secondly, besides the damage caused by domains being de-indexed and blacklisted, backhat methods also damage your reputation. I’m not even talking about the misleading stuff – because most black hatters have the common sense to do that using a pseudonym – but in terms of social mass automation…
People can see if you aren’t “real”. Yes, you get software that supposedly makes it all look “human” – right down to liking and sharing stuff posted by your friends or followers. Unfortunately, automation also means that a machine makes the choice about what to share. All it takes is you sharing one or two items that don’t go down well (maybe something containing some bad imagery, shared by another back hatter, or something that goes against the norms of social acceptability (maybe something posted by an extremist). Once you “shared” something you shouldn’t have, your reputation is damaged.
That doesn’t even take into account all the time that you share something, and people comment on it, and you’re never there to acknowledge their comments…
Once people realize you aren’t “real” (as in “really there”), they simply start ignoring you. Once people start ignoring you, you can close you account and start again from scratch. Everything you did is down the drain.
How long do you think it will take you to establish any credibility if your social accounts keep on being closed down, or dying out (because of automation)? It might be fun to do it, and it might save you a lot of time, and let you get many new connections and followers – for now – but where will you be in two or three years from now?
Lastly – just one more thought:
If you think that black hat is bad, but “grey hat” (pushing the boundaries) is ok, think again.
That which is “grey hat” today, will eventually become blackhat, and get you busted. Think of automated link building, automated direct messaging, and automated follow-back on Twitter – all of which was considered “grey hat” a few years ago, and now all of those are considered violations, and Google is penalizing websites with “artificial backlinks”.
Many people thought – at the time – that they “weren’t doing anything wrong”, but that they were simply “smarter than the system”. They thought they had it all figured out, and had it all under control. They thought they were just doing what they needed to “get ahead”. Instead, many of those people had to start from scratch again, and some of them lost a few years worth of work in the process.
How would you feel if you worked on your Facebook account for two years, and built it up to the point where it was sending you consistent traffic, and then had to lose it because of something you did in the past?
Personally, I don’t risk my online business. It’s worth a lot more to me than saving some time and effort just for the sake of convenience.
Is wearing a black hat worth it?
It depends. If you want to have some fun with online marketing, and move on – maybe.
If you want to build a real business which will last you for as long as you want it…
Don’t. It’s just not worth it.