Hey Shari Thurow – Stop Sterotyping SEOs

You know, I am starting to feel like most of my blog posts are seo rants and last week I decided to try and lay off the rants for a while. But then I came across a column today over at Search Engine Land by Shari Thurow that made me fucking fume. It isn’t the first thing by Shari to make me fume either, but this one I’m going to voice an opinion about.

The post was basically about how “blackhat seo’s” are complete scumbags and how Shari doesn’t want to be associated with “them”. Well, here’s a newsflash… being some of the most talented seo’s on the planet, “they”, hell, I’ll say “we” sure as hell don’t want to be associated with holier than thou, “put theirselves up on a righteous moral pedestal” seo’s either.

First, a little background on me since I’ve learned repeatedly in other posts that people don’t bother to research a person and tend to instead make assumptions… I started in seo with a pristine whitehat. I didn’t even know it was a “whitehat”. I simply started building websites and marketing them.

A few years in, the “blackhat” side I was hearing about fascinated me and I started playing in that space as well. It was during that time, I learned that one of the largest “thoughts” in seo was complete bullshit… that blackhat seo’s were seo’s who did “blackhat” because they couldn’t cut it in “whitehat”.

Let me be very clear in saying that some of the best seo’s I know on the planet are what many would call “blackhat seo” types. Secondly, I’ll say something I’ve been saying for years… any *good* blackhat seo can “whitehat” their asses off. Being “blackhat” really is about is figuring out what works for whitehat seo and figuring out how to automate or find “loopholes” to get to the end result faster.

That said, about two years ago, I stopped any new “blackhat” ventures. To me, the longevity process – remaining a successful affiliate marketer – with a long term vision and plan was the direction I wanted to head. Of course, nobody believes me on that latter part, but, C’est la Vie.

Now, I would like to continue my rant by responding to some of the quotes from what I guess is being called an “article”…

In other words, she assumed that I practiced black-hat SEO. I was mortified because I sat right in front of her and talked to her about graduate school. I had just been accepted into my graduate program of Library and Information Sciences with a specialty in Human and Computer Interfaces (HCI).

So, let me ask, what the fuck does graduate school have to do with anything. What, because you attended college, you can’t possibly be a “shady, worthless criminal”? I’ve got news for you, there are plenty of shady worthless criminals with pristine education resumes. That’s why we have white collar prisons. Of course, I’m assuming that it was simply an example of why you think you’re better than all those “worthless, shady criminals” who certainly wouldn’t have college degress [rolls eyes].

Many people assume that I do not respect my black-hat colleagues, an assumption that is completely false. I have a great deal of respect for their knowledge and expertise…and their cleverness.

You sure as hell have a funny way of showing it. If I say I respect you and then slap you in the face, which one rings more true? I’m guessing it’s the one that leaves the mark and the sting. Actions speak louder than words.

But I am against creating these piece-of-crap sites purely to generate AdSense income. Who is monitoring and allowing these piece-of-crap sites?

Not every shit made for Adsense site is owned by a “blackhat” Shari… there are many crap sites being promoted utilizing completely legit, above board and “within the Google guidelines” methods. Blackhat and whitehat are terms used for search engine optimizers… meaning they are related to how one markets a website, not to the quality of the website itself.

I remember one statement very specifically. “Google is NOT the government!” exclaimed panelist Michael Gray, to the great delight of the audience, who erupted with applause. I laughed at that reaction. It was cute.

And that comment was nothing but drivel meant to be demeaning to the conspiracy theory whore and every single person in the room who applauded him. Disagree with the man and the audience reaction all you want – lord knows I do at times – but maybe try doing it with a little less of an “I am so much better than all of you idiots” tone next time.

The reason I do not like being lumped in with black-hat SEOs is because they lack honesty and integrity.

If you and that entire post was an example of honesty and integrity, then I’m glad as hell that you think I have none of it.

Unfortunately, I have been an expert witness in legal cases involving SEO fraud. Clients were not fully informed about the SEO methodologies utilized to promote the site. One case in Europe involved the SEO firm stating (in writing) that they followed all of the terms and conditions set forth by the search engines.

Whoa there Shari. These are called crooks and criminals. Not blackhats. A blackhat is not defined as someone who lies to their clients or utilizes methodology without their knowledge and consent of a blackhat nature. Those are scumbag seo’s. And there are tons of them. There are plenty of talentless hacks charging companies shitloads of money for “pure whitehat” seo too.

Even further, there are talentless hacks being paid shitloads of money by clients in arenas where blackhat is rampant and they don’t even understand the techniques the competitors are using because they have no experience with them themselves, and not informing clients that it makes them a less effective seo for them. Some seo’s are shit seos and their fucking hat colors have nothing to do with it.

Stating that all blackhat seo’s are criminals are no different than stating all teenage men with their pants below their ass standing on streetcorners at 1 p.m. in the afternoon are drug dealers. Or any different than when you stated that “women in seo” seemed to be more geared towards sem than the technical side (as a side note, the article where Shari stated this seems to be missing from ClickZ, however, Amanda Watlington, quoted the statement in blog post she has disagreeing with it here). It’s called a sterotype. It’s insulting to blackhat seo’s that have never been involved in fraud – remember what they say about assuming – and it’s insulting to whitehats, the search marketing community as a whole and insulting to Search Engine Land as a publication.

I’m actually disappointed and embarassed that SEL published this sterotypical drivel that is the equivalent of “seo hate speech” too.

Nonetheless, until I see most SEO professionals take full responsibility for their actions and their consequences, I will still use the label of white-hat SEO

Again, this is a scumbag seo and a scumbag business person. This has nothing to do with the blackhat/whitehat seo monikers. And again, there are plenty of talentless hacks performing seo services within the Google guidelines who are providing no value to the companies hiring them – which could also be called “fraud”.

Based on the way you came off in that article, I could form the opinion that since you are using the moniker of “whitehat seo” that all whitehat seo’s are pompous, self righteous, better than you people with small minds and who form sterotypical opinions based on their limited experiences…

But I won’t, because I know there are a lot of fantastic, kick ass, whitehat seos out there who wear their whitehat – including myself – without wrongly sterotyping those who may wear a hat of a different color.

About Rae Hoffman

Rae Hoffman aka "Sugarrae" is an affiliate marketing veteran and the CEO of PushFire, a search marketing agency specializing in SEO audits and link building strategies. She is also the author of the often controversial Sugarrae blog. You can connect with Rae via Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

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