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Friday, December 17, 2004

Black Hat, Inc.

Greg Boser of WebGuerrilla anchored the controversial "Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO" session at Search Engine Strategies Chicago this week. (These terms are shorthand for those who use aggressive search engine optimization tactics as opposed to those who use gentler methods.)

Boser made the point that many of the largest brand names in the world are the ones who request the most aggressive marketing tactics. Yet the perception in the public is that "spammers" (whether they're taking aim at your inbox or a search index) are exclusively small-timers.

While there are plenty of reasons why I personally think it's inadvisable to pursue certain tactics, many of the most recognizable brands have quietly disagreed.

(And if you read the previous post, you'll get the sense that I always advised clients of their option to advertise on competitors' trademarked words, if that's what they wanted to do. Those words nearly always return a strong ROI relative to the rest of one's campaign. If someone is hired to help you with your marketing, and your stance is an aggressive one, they probably aren't doing their job if they refuse to at least run down the options for you, disclosing risks and rewards.)

The point was hammered home for me again when I arrived back at the home office and noticed on my call display that "Sears Clean Air" had phoned, presumably to try to sell me duct cleaning services. Do I need that aggravation?

Big companies are the some of the worst "spammers," then. And as consumers, that means a constant process of ducking and hiding from irrelevant messages. The notion of a future do-not-call law in Canada makes me wince, because you can already run down the list of big diversified companies who will find ways to exempt themselves from the law by being able to claim a "prior business relationship."

And the kids at Sporting Life can't imagine why I balk at giving out my phone number for the privilege of buying jeans from them.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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