Keep this under your hat, but I like looking at Google Trends. I find it useful for understanding what’s happening in sectors and with brands. It is trend based so not to be taken as gospel but from my experience the predictions are usually accurate.
The other day I decided to investigate if people were still talking about black/white hat SEO. Not sure why it popped into my head, it just did. Maybe my head was cold and I needed a hat.
Anyway, the results were interesting and to me they made a lot of sense.
White Hat SEO versus Black Hat SEO
The trend for black hat SEO has been around from as far back as Google Trends can show you. White hat SEO seems to have had made an appearance about one year later. I feel that the phrase white hat SEO was created to counter black hat and help differentiate the two when selling in to clients.
I prefer the phrase ‘ethical SEO’ but as you can see from the graphic it’s never really taken off. Unlike hats, which are easy to take off.
What Country do We Most Associate
with Black Hat SEO?
It’s not a surprise that black hat SEO attracts greater interest than white hat. Using it you can either spam the competition, boost your traffic or both simultaneously. What is worth noting though is that the country we most associate spamming with is the country which seems to have the greatest interest in black hat SEO. That’s right, India!
No longer can we say ‘they didn’t know what they were doing’.
A Penguin Ate My Black Hat
When Google released Penguin, its job was to destroy link spammers. I was happy when this update hit. A lot of sites which didn’t earn their SERPS were hit hard. Unfortunately, as in most wars, there was collateral damage and some good guys got taken out, but in general it was a helpful update.
Penguin created a shock wave in the industry and beyond. If we are to compare Penguin to natural disasters I’d liken it to a meteor blast. Why? According Google Trends it’s caused lasting damage which over time may lead to the extinction of black hat SEO or at least people’s interest in it.
RIP, Black Hat
In May 2012 the search phrase ‘black hat SEO’ dropped off a cliff. While the phrase ‘black hat SEO’ still gets more interest than ‘white hat SEO’, people’s interest in black hat techniques are in free fall and unlikely to return.
Although black hat techniques still work and it is possible to rank using spammy techniques it would seem that Penguin has put the frighteners on people. Nobody wants to talk about it, they live in dread of the shadow of the Penguin!
Maybe black hat SEO will evolve and another term will take its place. Crash Hat SEO, maybe. Or how about Top Hat SEO? Any other suggestions out there, that you’d like to hang your hat on?