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It happens to every single SEO specialist at some point in their career — usually, in our experience, about every other month: some new client asks you if you do “black hat SEO,” usually meaning “can you somehow hack, cheat, or otherwise use an illegal or unethical practice to get us an advantage in the SERPs?” (That’s Search Engine Results Pages, for y’all who didn’t know.)
The answer, which never fails to disappoint our less ethical clients, is “there’s really no such thing as cheating Google, except insofar as literally all SEO is considered unethical by Google.” Which is true: Google hates them some SEO — as far as they’re concerned, the only thing SEO does is steal money from their biggest profit pony, the AdWords PPC marketing system.
But when it comes to actual ‘hacks’ or ‘cheats,’ the sad truth is that Google has more brainpower, more money, more savvy, and more desire to win than every single SEO guy on the planet put together. If some genius SEO specialists come up with some clever new ‘black hat SEO’ technique, there’s a predictable series of events that happens:
In short, even the best new ‘hacks’ only last a few weeks — a few months on the outside — before they suddenly vanish forever.
Now this doesn’t mean there aren’t a huge amount of powerful SEO techniques that Google will hate you for using — even to the point of sandboxing you if they catch you at it — but by definition, those techniques aren’t powerful enough for Google to actually just ‘turn off the tap’ by altering the algorithms to ignore those techniques.
So the question isn’t “is Black Hat SEO dead?” — it’s not, and it never will be, because it’s constantly evolving new strategies. The question is “do you want to build a business that will explode in profit for a few weeks and then die horribly, or do you want to build something that will make you money for the rest of your life?”
It’s that simple.