My previous career was in the SEO (search engine optimization) industry, but more specifically, I worked for myself, promoting sites primarily in the online payday loan industry. I had to expand into other industries however, once the payday loan bubble popped.
Wearing a black hat.
There used to be two philosophies when it came to SEO, and they were called whitehat, and blackhat (I have no idea if this still exists today or not). My best years in this industry were probably around 2012-2015, and I didn’t keep up with it much after that… You can think of whitehat and blackhat like good/white magic and dark/black magic, I suppose.
Whitehat SEO guys would play by the book. They thought content is king, that google was their daddy, and they read (with a magnifying glass) google’s guidelines, patents, blogs, white papers, and whatnot. And don’t get me wrong, blackhats did the same thing, but we did it to see what we can take advantage of, to tip the scales in our favor (for once!). I mean… The reason blackhats existed was because whitehats got tired of getting penalized with no idea as to why and what they did wrong. Why play by the book, when you don’t even know what the book says… The whitehats read this material so they knew how (they thought) to stay within the lines because God forbid, you drew outside the line and had an original thought.
That’s what they called it when your website would get penalized by the Google Search department. Or more specifically, it was your domain that would get penalized… which is the www.mysillywebsite.com part (I’ll explain why I make this distinction in a minute). When a “penalty” is assigned to one of your sites/domains, it won’t show up on the search results page when someone searches for … say “payday loans” anymore… or if it does, it’s on the 5th page or the 10th page, which is basically saying you don’t exist in the eyes of Google. And when you rely solely on organic search traffic (because it’s free!), and Google decides you did something wrong and don’t deserve their traffic, and they penalize your site, it’s noticeable..
Why risk it?
The main noticeable difference between whitehats and blackhats is the speed at which they achieve their goals. That’s assuming the goal is to rank #1, which means if someone were to type in “payday loans” again as an example, the first website listed, that is not an advertisement, on the first page of results, is your site. And that is the holy grail. Because the first site gets the largest share of free, organic search traffic. The second, and third, and fourth, and so on get lower and lower shares. The exact percentages vary from industry to industry. When I say industry, when it relates to SEO, I’m referring to niches I guess. I prefer the term “industry” because it sounds fancier and thats just my ego popping up.
Blackhats risk it because when done right, you can rank #1 in a day (or used to anyhow), and it may take a whitehat years to reach that.
Speaking of egos…
I take mushrooms every once in awhile to keep my ego in check. Though I’m finding more and more ways to do this without the aid of substances, but I’ll go into greater detail about that in another post. It’s a fascinating subject, and one I gave little credence to in the past, but I’ve discovered that was a mistake. Some of these methods are so powerful.
Everything has a place in the universe. Everything. It’s not a fun idea to think about, but I know it to be true, through and through. No one wants to think we live in a world where it was necessary to have (insert any ruthless dictator, Hitler, whoever) in our history, or why we have children starving in some remote part of our world…. Suffering is a gift. But no one is expected to go look for it.
It’s all perception. What looks horrifying down below, looks like health and beauty and balance at the top. Everything is necessary because everything is one. All the horrors are there so we can see the beauty.
Take a microscope to your gut, or better yet, imagine you are present in the microbiome of your stomach. The chaos and destruction and change, and transformation going on all at once. Then take a step back and you see all these organs working together in balance and harmony. And take another step back and you see a healthy, perfectly functioning, happy human being. Yet, all it took was a microscope to see, what probably looks like devastation, or volcanoes erupting, or who knows.. If you didn’t know to take a step back and get a different view, you would think oh my god, why all this suffering.
Are you happy? I am happier than I’ve ever been. Are you sad? I am deeply sad.Ram Dass
Use the force
When I started talking about my ego, I got a little off topic for a bit. Don’t get me started on systems theory, or physics, or energy.. I’m fascinated by these subjects, because it makes you feel like you’re living in a real-life Star Wars saga or something. I didn’t really like the movies all that much, but I always loved the idea of the force, and Jedi’s….. It also ties in nicely with the theme of whitehats and blackhats.
I will, however, continue the payday loans bubble story in the next post.
Read part two: The payday loan bubble (part two)