SEO Tip #61: How Can A Website Compete Using Only White Hat techniques?

Matt Cutts: Fantastic question and I’ll try to get a lot of different information in so I hope I get it all.

First off you always want to be making a white hat site, something that stands the test of time. One of the main things that differentiate a white hat site from a black hat site is that the black hat sites are typically built to sort of succeed for a few days or a few weeks, maybe a few months and then fail.

People are not investing long term resources in making a great site. So one thing you can bear in mind is that if you’re making a white hat site, follow the sort of techniques that stand the test of time because black hat sites will come and go but as long as your site keeps rising in terms of visibility and viability eventually the new black hat sites won’t be able to compete with the authority and the reputation that you’ve built up.

The other thing to bear in mind is that Google is always looking at how to stop the white hat tricks. So the metabolism of spammers kicks up as they try to hack sites or do other nasty malicious stuff. But then Google tries to respond by writing hack site classifiers and other ways to sort of stop fresh trends or hot trend spam, things like that.

So Google has been developing new tools to try to make sure that black hat spammers don’t get to stay around for as long as white hat sites. So we’ll keep working on our side. Don’t just get discouraged because it might take a while to see the spam reports take an effect.

Sometimes it takes effect all at once. Sometimes it can get on our radar. And I think it’s totally fine if you’re running a white hat site to blog about your niche and say, “Hey this niche needs to be cleaned up by Google,” or “There’s too many black hats in this area. Google pay more attention.” You know that’s just good lobbying. Send me a tweet or something like that to say “pay more attention to this area,” because we do take that feedback and we act on it.

The other thing is make sure you are using techniques that have either great research or great resources or have something that is viral about it. You don’t just want to produce great information. You also want to think about “how do I market that? How do I let people know about the great stuff that I’ve got?”

And if you start to do that then as your site gets to be known and people start to go to your site deliberately, not just go to Google and search and click on whatever number one or two or three. Whenever you get to be known as the resource in that area you can build up that viability long term and do a much better job of competing against the black hats.

One last thing to think about is if you got the black hats and they are competing against some super, super crazy spammer search like, “Buy Viagra online,” or something like that you don’t have to necessarily attack them head on.
You can also think about “let’s start making some informational resources, something that’s not quite in this space. And then as I build up my reputation in an area that’s not quite as spammy, I can move in to this more commercial space over time.”

So it’s the same sort of, I refer to it as the Katamari technique where you start out with a small area and you build and you build and you build and your resources and your authority and your reputation just gets bigger and bigger and bigger.

And if you start out in one of those really contested spaces then it might be harder to compete. But sometimes, you can start out in an area that’s sort of adjacent, build up until people know you as a resource and then take on more or move in to an area that’s a little more commercial, little more contested, and sometimes a little more spammy.

So at Google we’ll always continue to be working to sort of find the black hat spam, make sure that those techniques don’t work. As long as you’re pursuing the white hat techniques that will sort of stand the test of time, then over the passage of time your site should be doing better than the black hat sites. We’ll keep working on our side and hopefully you keep working on your side.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.