In the olden days when SEOs were first learning their trade in optimisation there were two distinct camps – black hat SEOs and white hat SEOs. For those uninitiated in the sometimes strange language of search engine optimisation this could sound rather exciting if you remember Hollywood westerns in the fifties when the goodies wore white hats and the baddies wore black hats.
SEOs didn’t really come out guns a’ blazin’, but they were, and still are, divided by the fact that the goodies use acceptable techniques for getting your website high on search engine results pages (SERPS) and the baddies use techniques which (especially nowadays) are highly risky and likely to get your website penalised.
The rise of social media
Up until the mid-noughties, all optimisation for the search engines focussed on the business website itself, but in the last 10 years with the advent of social media, internet marketing has changed enormously. Now your business website is merely the hub of your online presence, which in turn is backed up by multi-channels which include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google + and LinkedIn to name but a few.
There are strong suggestions that the search engines have ways of using your social media authority to rank your website and so it is no surprise that marketing experts have quickly learnt new techniques for optimising social media accounts. It is highly likely that all the variables such as likes, follows, shares and reviews could all have an impact on your online presence.
Dodgy black hat methods used on social media
The types of social media black hat techniques used tend to be buying fake likes, using click farms, using programmes to automatically follow new accounts, creating fake profiles to like and share, writing fake negative reviews on competitor’s accounts and many others.
The real concern is if things evolve with social media in the same way as they did with websites it is highly likely that Google will find ways of detecting black hat methods in social media. This reminds me of the time when a certain penguin (who will be nameless) negated bought links, link farms, links on article sites etc. Websites fell from SERPS like cowboys off a bucking bronco. Websites even now are still feeling the reverberations.
Online businesses using dodgy techniques for optimisation were devastated – some ruined. Often this was through no fault of their own because when these techniques were put in place to a certain extent they were acceptable in certain circles.
Black hat social media – Long-term fears
So the whole problem now is when will the social media sheriff catch up with social media law-breakers? As in the early days of the net, the black hat methods are rife and at the moment there does not seem to be a social media “Matt Cutts” to run those no-good cotton-pickin’ black hats out of town. So be cautious with the techniques you are using. They may be acceptable at the moment but it looks it is only a short time before they head those pesky black hats off at the pass.