I recently attended the SMX Advanced SEO conference in Seattle and was taken aback by the blackhat techniques being discussed.
I was actually a bit surprised at how much of it there was – some of the extreme being the praising of the completely fabricated 13-year-old’s story as brilliant marketing and statements like, “We’re not here to be moral; we’re marketers” and “You’re not going to get creamed, the site will, so don’t worry about it.”
Since when is telling a bald-faced lie brilliant marketing? And for morality I think, do you have no morality? None? You’ll just help child pornographers, arms dealers, tobacco companies, etc.? If the answer to that is “No”, then there clearly is a line that even the blackest hat will draw. So it’s just a matter of where the line is drawn, and how the line is decided.
“There’s a market for it. Somebody will fill that void. Why not SMX?”
By that logic, it’s fine to have a session on how to:
- carry out an email “pump and dump” stock scheme,
- develop a Nigerian email scam,
- get past the spam filters and send at a million emails.
The fact that there is a demand, does not mean it should be presented at a conference purporting to represent a professional industry.
I think the question then becomes strategic. Where does the industry want to be in five years?
Then make decisions according to that goal and plan. It cannot be based on “anything goes” or “whatever we can get away with”.
I think that just deepens the perception of “they’re just fringe geeks with their own rules and no morals” — which to most people with money means “jerky little twerps” — which means the companies with big money are going to go to Ogilvy for their web stuff.
I am sure that most SEO’s want to build solid, professional, long-term success for their clients and for themselves. I don’t think that comes from pump and dump stock schemes — or by making making completely fabricated news articles.