I’m always on the look out for new content sources and in the SEO world these normally fall into two camps; squeaky clean white hat and anti google black hat.
When i discovered Charles Floate’s blog it was a refreshing change, this was mainly because of the unconventional grey hat methods he used. Usually when you see these articles there’s an awful lot of theory but rarely any practice.
In this instance he has backed up his theory with some pretty impressive results.
Intrigued about this I thought it would be great to get an insight into his opinion on grey hat methods, his background and overall view of SEO:
1. Hi Charles, thanks for doing this interview, can you give us a quick overview of your background and why you got into SEO?
I got put thrown into the life of an SEO a bit when I was very young, my mum just launched a new ecommerce site and got quoted £3,000/month for SEO (around $5,000) from a company that was, well less than satisfactory. I was already pretty good with computers and had been coding python for the past 2 years and doing a lot of telecoms work.
I decided I’d try and learn a bit about SEO, when she asked me to help her with her onpage (meta data) optimization.
Since then, I’ve been a solely grey hat, delving into phases of black and white hat periods of complete randomness. I currently work for WoW Internet and have previously worked with FosterSEO, Bootcamp Media, .Com Marketing & I also run my own white label Agency – HashtagSEo.
2. What SEO tools do you regularly use and why?
This is a bit of a hard one, I use a stupid amount of tools so I’ll go over a few of my favourites and why.
ScrapeBox, I don’t use this for link building (except in various, specific circumstances for nofollow, relevant blog comments). It’s a awesome tool with some great addons and plugins for SEO, it also allows me to check PR, domain age, and crawl on a massive scale.
Moz, more for their content than their tools, their onpage suite is fantastic for spotting errors though it can be annoying when it pulls out an error based on duplicate page titles or descriptions for my WordPress author pages.
3. You recently stated that Penguin 2.0 is killing local business, what do you think Google should be doing to help SME’s?
I think Google can stop being so brute-ish about the ways they do things, most of the time it’d seem they get an idea in their head and immediately do it rather than thinking of the consequences. I’m all for quality backlinks, but if I owned a small business in a town, I’d rather it display me in the local search results than Starbucks’s 3 coffee shops in my 1 town.
4. Do you think in certain situations that cloaking is acceptable?
Cloaking, depends on the way you go about it. If you cloak to not pass link juice or to make it easier to navigate around URLs (Affiliate Cloaking as good example) then it’s fine. If you’re cloaking to abuse the user, then it’s wrong. Abusing a GoogleBot I couldn’t care less but scamming a user into clicking a link is unfair.
5. What do you think are the most common SEO mistakes?
Pretty simple, the biggest mistake in the world is listening to Google and Matt Cutts. Develop and work on your own strategies, if they work then use them, if they fail miserably then don’t use them. Listening to Google’s every word who love to fear monger around the SEO Community, especially as they’ve hit it big with all the “white hat” blogs promoting their every word!
6. How has penguin affected you and your clients?
Only 1 of our clients got hit by Penguin 2.0, otherwise.. We saw massive SERP rises, especially on websites we’d been doing a lot of contextual tier 2 work with. The only real SERP changes we’ve seen is from the EMD update, other than that it’s been as smooth as a babies bottom!
7. You have recently ran a “Rank for Rand” experiment, where you have out ranked Rand Fishkin on his own name (currently 4th on Google) Tell us why you have done this and more importantly (without divulging too much) how you have done this.
There’s a full case study that’ll be released for this, the reasons are a sort of mismatch of Jon Coopers recent post on link builders mentality and a small challenge I was not given, but I’d say taken a back by.
8. I’ve seen on “God of SEO” your reviews of link building networks. Post penguin how would people go about using these networks?
These tend to be the most simple thing out there, don’t EVER go with public networks like SAPE, BuildMyRank etc.. I always go with private networks from forum users (These have worked superbly for ranking on a few sites I’ve had as they have a low amount of submissions, so less spam and have custom written content made up for you, at a price of course!
9. Do you think it’s acceptable to work for an agency and still explore black hat techniques? Does there lie a level of corporate responsibility?
Oh of course, my agency actively discourage black hat work and I don’t do any form of black hat or grey hat for that matter tier 1 links for our clients sites. Tier 2 however is a completely different story, and even then I tend to do manually spun tier 2 contextual which are actually only 5-10 links built per tier 1 link and by manually spun, I’m on some next level spinning!
10. Where do you see SEO in 3 years time?
3 years is a huge amount of time, especially in our industry. I’d say it’d be more pointed towards Google+ (even more than it already seems to be), I also think it’s going to be a lot more technical based and algorithms will be even more powerful (even though right now, they’re still pretty poor) – If you want to take a look at where Google’s SEO rules will be in the next 3 years, take a look at Yandex now.