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White Hat, Gray Hat, Or Black Hat, with Erik J. Olson


Episode #1273

When it comes to SEO or anything in digital marketing, should it be a white hat, gray hat, or black hat? Should you try to cheat the system? In this episode, Erik shares the risks of choosing between those hats.

July 11, 2022

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Episode Transcript

Erik J. Olson (00:01):

When it comes to your SEO or really anything in digital marketing, should it be white hat, gray hat or black hat? Should you try to cheat the system? What is happening? I am Erik J. Olson, your host for this episode of the Journey to $100 Million. So the question is white hat, gray hat or black hat. Let me explain what these three terms mean. So ironically, I’m wearing a white hat today. White hat means that you play by the rules, right? You’re a good person. You know, like in the movies, the old westerns, the guy that was wearing the white cowboy hat was the good guy. The guy that was wearing a black cowboy hat or dressing all black, he was the bad guy. He was the villain. Well, that’s what that means when it comes to white hat versus black hat. So white hat, you’re above board.

Erik J. Olson (00:51):

You’re doing everything by the rules. There’s no hanky pinky going on black hat, just the opposite. You are trying to do anything you can above the law below the law. You don’t care about the law. You don’t care about the rules. You’re just going to make it happen. And you’re going to basically cheat the system and go against the guidelines that systems provide to you. So what that means in SCL in particular is Google provides guidelines for what you should and should not do. Now, generally speaking, they will reward you for white hat activities by doing the things you’re supposed to be doing. They won’t necessarily penalize you unless you’re really bad, right? So if they find out that like you’re doing a lot of black hat activities over and over and over again, you have a pattern. They’re seeing a pattern. They will actually penalize you.

Erik J. Olson (01:45):

But typically their first response is they just won’t reward you. So they’ll reward the people that are doing it the way that they want. And they won’t reward the people that are doing it. The other ways that’s kind of gray hat, gray hat is in between, right? So white hat, gray hat, black hat with gray hat. You’re kind of, you’re kind of, so you’re pretty much doing it. White hat. You’re pretty much doing it, right, but you’ll try something here or there. So as an example, let’s say with social media, you generally do all the right things. You’re posting, you’re interacting, but then you just like, get this weird, like idea about growing you’re falling. And you go out and you buy a thousand followers, right on say like fiver and you get a whole bunch of lame followers. That would be like probably an example of gray hat, because you’re normally doing everything the way that you’re supposed to. And then bam, you go out and you break the rules by buying followers, which everybody knows is not a good use of resources. They’re not good followers. It is going to reduce your engagement rate. There’s all sorts of negative that comes along with that. But you only kind of do it once. And that was a black hat activity. But I would say in conjunction with all of your white hat activity, it kind of turns you into a gray, for sure. Maybe people would argue,

Erik J. Olson (02:58):

No, that makes you a black hat. But what I’m trying to get at is with gray hat. You’re, you’re pretty much following the rules, but you’re kind of skirting around it as well. With black hat, you don’t care about the rules. You’re just doing whatever the hell you want. So the question is, should you be white hat, gray hat, or black hat? Well here at Array Digital, and also at Rival Digital, our sister agency, we’re a hundred percent white hat. Why? Because we know what the rules are. We are law abiding, internet citizens. And we know that a black hat tactic just won’t work long term. And we are in this for the long term. As an example, there is a, there was, I should say there was a local agency right by my office, in this town that was just killing it in SEO.

Erik J. Olson (03:44):

But they were doing all sorts of black hat tactics. And once Google changed their algorithm so that you couldn’t do those things anymore, once they enforced the rules, they told you, you should be abiding by all along that agency just went from like the most amazing agency in the world to barely surviving their clients were leaving them in droves. Why? Because the agency no longer fulfilled the obligation they had to their clients, which was to get SEO value, SEO value for their clients dropped significantly. And as a result, the clients left and as a result of the clients, leaving the agency went to crap. And I don’t even know if they’re in business anymore, but they’re certainly not the powerhouse they used to be. I don’t even know if they’re in business. That’s, that’s how well they’ve dropped. Right? So like, I don’t want an agency that is going to be you know, like dependent or I guess hoping that the rules won’t be enforced, I’m not gonna take that kind of risk for myself.

Erik J. Olson (04:43):

And I’m certainly not gonna take that kind of risk for our clients. So in my opinion, black hat, black hat, absolutely out. Don’t do it. It’s just not worth it. White hat, no doubt. You should always do it. Gray hat. Hey, you know what, man, it’s, it’s, I’m not gonna say I’ve ever cheated on my taxes or anything like that, but it’s kind of like that, you know, you kind of, you can kind of push the envelope a little here, a little there, justify it, but you generally don’t want to do you don’t wanna shoot any taxes? I would never do that. Mr. Or Mrs. IRS auditor. Who’s listening right now. I would never do that. Never don’t even think I would do that, but some people do, right. Some people push the boundaries a little bit. So gray hat kind of like that. Should you do it? Mm, man, that’s up to you, but it’s perilous and you should know what the risks are. In my opinion, stick with the hat I’m wearing white hat.

 

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About The Hosts


  • Erik J. Olson is an award-winning digital marketer & entrepreneur. The Founder & CEO of Array Digital, he is also the host of the Journey to $100 Million Flash Briefing and daily podcast, and the organizer of the Marketers Anonymous monthly meetups.

  • Kevin Daisey is an award-winning digital marketer & entrepreneur. He started his first company when he was just 23, and is the Founder & CMO of Array Digital. Kevin is the also the co-host of the Journey to $100 Million Flash Briefing and daily podcast, and the co-organizer of the Marketers Anonymous monthly meetups.

Website Design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Online Advertising, Social Media & Digital Marketing.
© Array Digital LLC

Website Design, Online Advertising, SEO, Social Media & Digital Marketing.
© Array Digital LLC