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Thoughts on going completely whitehat

6:47 am on Jun 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I've tried my hands on lots of blackhat (or shady) seo techniques and those techniques do work really well (and still working).

I've been able to rank some good kws with my strategies but the problem is, my websites are not safe. Some of those tend to fall with every google update or get manually penalized or get unnatural backlink notice or other problems which are a result of only one thing - getting inorganic links.

Here is now what I'm planning to do :

1. Start with fresh domains and work in the niches which I know converts well. I know about three niches

2. Never buy a single backlink to any of those pages.

3. Create the quality content or in-depth content WITHOUT any artificial flavors in that and like nobody else is offering on the web.

Now I'm afraid (and my main concern) that no backlinks to my site = no rankings in Google = no money = waste of time and resources.

On the other hand, I've analyzed some sites with good content and they are ranking on #1 without much backlinks but those terms are not competitive at all.

It is my belief that in high competition terms like "payday loans", ranking on #1 without shady practices is almost impossible. I'm working in medium comp niches.

What are your thoughts on this?

Can anybody share their experience on going completely white hat?

Even with two years of hard work, If I can rank for some competitive terms (without creating a single backlink myself), I would like to go Whitehat. I'm trying to create assets which last long

Please share your honest thoughts on this. Do you guys really think that white hat is the right way to go?
5:12 pm on June 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I would not suggest anyone goes 100% whitehat or 100% blackhat. Following extreme business practice is rarely a good idea. I do think that going with whiter techniques (think of a light grey hat) is generally more profitable in the long term. The more value and quality you provide the better you will be. Shortcuts rarely add long term value.

If you are creative enough you can come up with ways to generate more links than you were old blackhat budget could afford to buy. I'm not saying its easy but it is possible. For example look around at what online tools people are paying to use in your industry and then replicate it (or provide a better alternative) on your site and allow them to use it for free. This will generate a large amount of organic backlinks to your new tool page. With enough creativity and hard work it is possible to rank well and by following fewer black hat shortcuts you are more likely to survive longer. If you go too extreme with white hat you might end up with never building enough ranking power and thats not good.
5:52 pm on June 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The problems I often see when someone attempts what you're doing - they want to be the big fish in the big pond, and nowadays, very few can get there (payday loans? really?) without at least going a little grey or full black.

Maybe think about niches that are aren't quite so competitive; that other people may have overlooked. Contrary to what you may believe, there are BOATLOADS of them, and many can be quite lucrative. I don't do too badly myself. I only wish I had time to pursue all the weird ideas I think up. Then build your (mostly) white hat site; you'll be under the radar and by the time your competitors realize what you're doing, you're already the authority and the brand in that niche.

(It always starts with the business model with me)
8:37 pm on June 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The Good Book tells us that the meek (whitehats) will inherit the Earth. However, when they do, the strong (blackhats) will destroy most of them and take it all from them.

The only meek (whitehats) that will prevail are those that have big budgets to spend on paying people with lower scruples and big sticks to defend them. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
8:58 pm on June 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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If by "no blackhat" you mean not trying to test the edge of the envelope at all, I'd say that depends on your taste for risk. However, I would not risk any valuable site on testing tactics that Google has clearly shown they will punish when they detect them. There are too many good marketing methods that have benefits far beyond search - like with your end users!
9:31 pm on June 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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You are correct that you can't rank in Google without links (or possibly social nowdays). I always suggest to my clients that they build links. Buying links can be risky, but asking for links from relevant (or even semi-relevant) sites in not risky. There is a fine art to white-hat link building and tons of good articles on the whiter-hat SEO sites about how to do it.

I personally don't have the patience, willingness to mass email, or subtlety to do it myself. I always hire somebody with experience or somebody fresh out of school that can be trained.
9:41 pm on June 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Are you ready to work on brand building for several years? Do you have money to do online/offline advertising? Do you have motivation to keep the site fresh and up-to-date with new unique content even when traffic from Google is mediocre? Can you fight off temptation of getting unnatural backlinks when all your competitors are buying links and dominating page 1 results and getting away with it because they are big brands?

It can be very frustrating . Is the niche you choose something you really like/love personally? One Google update and loss of traffic can kill your motivation if you're in it just for the cash.
1:02 am on June 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I was in the same place as you earlier this year. So I made a rule for myself.

If the link doesn't "seem" editorially given I avoid it and spend my time on something else. That pretty much rules out everything that is popular with the blackhats/greyhats including: ALL article directories, automated software, web2s, blog commenting, low quality link directories, low quality press releases, paid sitewides and footers, "guest posts" on low quality sites, keyword rich in-content links, forum signatures, profiles setup solely for the purpose of a link, etc.

I don't think avoiding these things makes me whitehat. I still buy links, use directories, press releases, guest posts, etc. I just am more smart and selective about it.

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