Drawing A Line In The Sand

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Where is the line between white hat and black hat when it comes to SEO? Most of the SEO professionals that I know put it right around the place where automation comes into play. More automation, they believe, is unethical and bad for long-term SEO strategy. For the most part they’re right, but holding to that idea too strongly can cost you time and money. Not every bit of automation is bad. There are many things you can automate in this industry without crossing into the murky waters of black hat SEO.

Reading the blogs, following the forums, and generally paying attention might get you to believe that even thinking about some of the tools that so-called black hat SEOs use will cause your sites rank to plummet. While the usage of these tools can definitely get you penalized if used to the full extent of their capabilities, the white hat SEO professional can benefit hugely from responsible use of many of these tools.

Today I am going to cover one of the most hated tools in the blogging world: the one tool that has increased the amount of blog spam created on a daily basis by an order of magnitude since it was released. I am speaking of ScrapeBox. This tool, if you choose to use it for this purpose, can send out hundreds of thousands of blog comments a day. How many stick is anyones guess, but the sheer volume of outgoing spam makes it seem like a worthwhile investment for black hat SEO practicioners. That isn’t what I use the tool for, and in my opinion it isn’t what you should be using it for either.

One of the first things you will notice when using this tool is its speed. ScrapeBox can process more posts and more search requests than any other tool I have in the same amount time. It is fast. When you first run the tool you will also notice the plethora of features. Not all of the features will be helpful to everyone, and you won’t need to understand how every feature works to use the program. Its nothing to be overwhelmed by, most of what I use it for is pretty simple to accomplish.

Scrapebox

(click to enlarge)

The main use this tool serves for someone looking to save some time is finding relevant blog posts on good domains. Load up your keyword list for a client, hit the harvest button and wait for posts to come in. There is a simple process I follow then: Remove Duplicates, Scan for PageRank, Remove 0 and N/A PageRank posts, Scan for Outbound Links, Remove any posts with >80 outbound links, check the remaining posts to see if they are alive. At the end of this I usually have a decent list of blogs and blog posts that have good rank, are relevant to my clients business, and are still alive. This can take me about 10-15 minutes, and most of that is waiting on progress bars. Right here is where the bad line can be crossed. This list could be fed into the auto-poster and you could have it post all the comments in one big flood. That is the line that most white hats dont want to cross, and rightfully so. Not only will it lead to complaints at your web host, but it can also lead to penalties from search engines, your ip and domain being blocked by anti-spam services, and many site owners/bloggers being angry at you for spamming. ScrapeBox won’t stop you from crossing that line, but common sense should.

So now we have a list of blogs and posts that might be useful. I use this list in a few different ways. First up you can give the list of posts to your client and ask them to post relevant posts on those pages to help their SEO, and to get them into the conversation on blogs related to their industry. This can have the added benefit of starting to build your client up as an expert in his or her field. If your client is paying you a bit more, for you to do that manual work then by all means go and do it yourself or have one of your employees do the work. The second way to use this list is to cut it down to just the root domain, clean it up for only unique sites, and then go through and find ones that might be worth trying to guest post on for your client.

In the end the tool speeds up the process of finding more places to get your clients name, links, and information, and you don’t have to use the spammy functionality to do this. This can save you time, effort and money. Tools like this shouldn’t be overlooked just because they can be abused. If they offer real value and help your process without forcing you to cross that dreaded line into the black hat, or even grey hat world, then you should keep your options open.

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