Perils of White Hat SEO – By Wil Reynolds

by Alana Jones on September 10, 2008

Last year, I had a client who was the largest company in their space, yet they consistently ranked on the bottom of page two in Google for their most important term, no matter how hard they tried.  

They brought my company on board and we were able to help get them as high as the fifth spot.

That was a marked improvement, but since they were the leader in their space, we still weren’t thrilled with our results. 

We found the company holding the top spot was receiving thousands of garbage GeoCities-type links. Most were not on theme and were on low value sites. 

Using, we determined the competitor’s links and Page Ranks were of extremely low quality.

The Devil You Don’t Know

Interestingly enough, a year later I had the opportunity to work with the company in the top spot (our old client’s competitor) on some site architecture work. 

I was so curious to find out how the company was able to outrank my old client with virtually no content on their home page, so I accepted a short-term consulting agreement. 

What I found was extremely disappointing.  A top consultant who charges a small fortune (not known for being a Grey Hat) was doing nothing but buying a ton of links. 

No link baiting, no widget development, no press releases, no useful tools, no FireFox plug-ins, no coupons – just sheer link numbers on low quality sites.

There is nothing that aggravates me more than spammers buying links and retaining their high rankings, while I remain cautious in my link acquisitions to ensure that our clients avoid trouble.  

Who Loses in the Grey Hat Game?

Looking at this insider view, many of you may wonder if my tactics would change. Well, first I know that modifying my strategy to be even more aggressive on paid links would likely result in slightly higher rankings for our clients. 

However, it is imperative to me to develop long-term value for every client. 

I think the short-term gain in search marketing is akin to using steroids in professional sports; you know at any time the shoe could drop, but choose to keep cheating. 

The Page Rank the meek inherit… what will it be worth?

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