There are two ways you can market any business online:
- White hat marketing
- Black hat marketing
White hat marketing involves creating a marketing strategy that meets the rules and policies of the platform.
Black hat marketing is used to find flaws in an algorithm and exploit
these flaws for your own gain.
You can implement black hat marketing with SEO, Google Ads, Facebook ads, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and just about every platform that allows you to promote or list your business.
In this article I’m going to talk about when to use black hat marketing.
How black hat marketing works
Black hat marketing works amazing well – until it doesn’t.
One of the classic examples of black hat marketing for SEO was to stuff
pages with the same keyword. In the early 2000s, SEO marketers learned that if
they repeatedly used the same keyword over and over again it would help them to
rank on the top pages of Google.
To hide that they were doing this from Google, their keyword font color was the same as their website background, so users couldn’t see the word plastered on the page.
These sites were ranking in the top spots of the Google search until
Google found out and punished all the websites that were using it this method.
On Facebook, black hat marketing used link redirects to send users to illegal landing pages such as gambling sites. Again, link directs used to work well, but now platforms are aware of this method and have things in place to stop them from happening.
When you should use black hat marketing
I’m not a fan of black hat marketing for the simple reason that when you get caught, your business is over.
When Google catches you using black hat SEO tactics, it assigns your website a penalty, which typically removes you from their index.
When Facebook or Instagram catch black hats, they typically ban the business's ad account from ever running ads.
When I start a project I do so with the intention of my new business being here in 5-10 years' time.
When you use black hat methods, it’s only a matter of time before you get caught.
Algorithms are getting smarter, and the ways to exploit them are becoming harder and harder. It’s not IF you’ll get caught, but WHEN.
The only time I would use black hat marketing is if I were creating a ‘churn and burn website.'
A churn and burn website is a business you create that has a finite lifetime. For example, your website may be about a recent trend that is going to blow up in 2020 and die the same year.
In this case, it makes sense to use black hat marketing because you have a limited time frame. Black hat methods have been proven to work, and consequences aren’t so severe when you don’t plan to carry on the business for years.
For any other business where you have a long-term objective, I do not advise using black hat marketing.
The pros and cons of black hat marketing
The biggest advantage to black hat marketing is quick results.
You can rank on Google 10-20x faster by using certain black hat techniques than if you did it the traditional way.
For example, it can take 1-2 years to rank a site highly on Google when only focusing on white hat factors, whereas you can be there in as little as a few months using black hat marketing.
That’s the biggest benefit: you get results fast.
But that’s where the benefits stop.
The downsides sides are plenty. Once a black hat method is found and Google or Facebook puts a stop to it, then that method of marketing (which you spent months to learn) is gone, and so is your knowledge.
So now you’re forced to learn other black hat methods that, in the next year or three, will stop working.
Each time you’re caught using black hat marketing you need to start again, often needing a new website or credit card, if running ads.
This is my personal opinion, I'd rather have a site I believe in and want to work on, than have to restart every few years because of black hat marketing.
In 5-15 years there will be fewer ways to use black-hat meaning the skills you’ve learned over your lifetime may become irrelevant.
Do you use black hat marketing?
I tend to stay away from black hat marketing because I want to build meaningful businesses that will be with me forever.
What about you? Have you used black hat marketing before, and was it successful?