Who’s Afraid Of The Big Gray Wolf? 1 in 7 SEOs

I’ve been promoting my advanced SEO book’s free chapter for a while now and, since virtually the beginning, I’ve seen a remarkable trend in my data.

That trend is a roughly 14% unsubscribe rate. About 1 in 7 people who choose to get a free sample chapter go on to unsubscribe.


Aweber email stats show that 59 out of 412 eventually unsubscribed.

That’s incredibly high.

But what’s really remarkable is why it’s so high.

It’s so high because my writing is phenomenally bad!

But, based on feedback from some unsubscribers, I have another explanation. Their view is that greyhat/blackhat SEO is Just. Not. Interesting.

I think the unsubscribes are mostly or even entirely attributable to that issue.

How can I support that opinion?

Besides for the qualitative feedback I mentioned and my bloated ego, blogosphere discussion suggests that a lot of fear exists in the SEO community about grayhat and blackhat SEO.

I’ve seen people discussing their fear of the possibility that their coworkers may be engaging in grayhat/blackhat SEO, even though what was being discussed was within the realm of whitehat SEO. “Wolf!” the boy cried…

Why are they afraid to learn?

I think it’s partly due to ignorance of grayhat and blackhat SEO.

It’s like broccoli – it doesn’t smell good, so it’s scary. Just like spinach. Or my armpits. But I digress… Grayhat/blackhat SEO doesn’t have a good reputation, so it’s scary.

That’s the problem with ignorance – it’s a self-perpetuating fear. The more people are afraid of grayhat or blackhat SEO, the more they avoid learning about these topics.

The irony is that blackhat techniques and grayhat techniques often inspire whitehat adaptations.

As Rob Kerry once said, blackhat SEOs were using nofollow to sculpt PageRank years before the rest of the SEO community caught on. That, of course, went on to become a very popular topic in the field…

I’ve made a deliberate choice to keep the grayhat/blackhat material in my sample chapter.

I think it’s useful to filter out those whitehat SEOs who are afraid to even hear about grayhat or blackhat SEO. My hope is that this will eventually prevent returns and negative reviews in the blogosphere as well as helping to avoid nonverbal-yet-dissatisfied-customers.

But it’s a shame it has to be that way.

Understand: Advanced SEO means thinking creatively and critically about search.
I’m not advocating wholesale adoption of cloaking and autogenerated content and linkspam. I’m certainly not advocating cracking other people’s sites to inject links or malware.

I am advocating reading about those techniques, seeing sites using them (but maybe not visiting the malware drive-by-download sites), and understanding why and how they work. Then asking, “How do I learn from this?” and “How do I adapt it to suit my hat colour?”

You can even learn from the malware! For instance, auto-scan link prospects for vulnerabilities and use that as a hook in your link request email (or to start the relationship before the link request). Or follow the footprints of blackhats inserting malware and injecting links to find new link prospects for your ‘your-site-is-insecure’ link request hook.

By definition, if you limit your sources of inspiration, you limit your creativity.

1/7 whitehat SEOs seem to be fine with that.

Are you afraid of the big gray wolf? (Tweet “I agrees,” flames and marriage proposals @GabGoldenberg.)

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