Search engine optimization has always attracted outsider interest regarding the dichotomy of black and white-hat SEO specialists, the former party delivering unethical and SE-questionable practices. As industry literature explains, black-hat practitioners give the industry a bad name, helping clients "game" the search engines. Black hats help "game" the system; but, I think mutually ethically-questionable brands, using the unethical black hats are ultimately getting gamed and getting well-deserved desserts.
I endorse white-hat methods and a practitioner's alignment with best, SE practices; I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the existence of black-hat professionals within the industry, though I loathe such practices exist. Alternatively, as a consumer, I somewhat celebrate the use of black hats, because in some ways, the rogue troupe illuminates the mutually-inclusive contrast between well-ranking pages and some pages' alignments with sites, services, products, and brands of poor quality. In many cases, aligning your brand with black-hat methods eventually calls attention to your brand's "darkest" secret – your value.
SEO Does Not Always Equal Success
Quality, natural SEO practices are slow burning, giving a brand more prevalence on search engines. A well optimized campaign aligns a client's pages with good rankings and better browser traffic. However, any browser, clicking a high-ranking SERP result but finding the page to be very inadequate, may have an epiphany, realizing the page's rankings and value are not equal. The slyest of black hats can't compensate for a site's lack of provisions; SEO equals opportunity, not guaranteed success.
I wrote a post last week regarding branding and the public's immediate impact made possible through social media outlets. Blind-sighted brands are likely to seek black hats because of the short time needed to create exposure – especially within social media platforms. However, brands, producing poor services and products, seeking the illegitimate help of black hats, are only accelerating the inevitable – the public's reception and likely devaluation of poor services and products. Congratulations, you just accelerated negative exposure!
Online marketing birthed a new service, reputation management, founded on the need for businesses to keep up with online discussions regarding brand names, executives, products, and services. Why? Consumers share information and impressions of brands every day. It blows my mind to understand the rationale behind securing black hat services; the public has so many options of expressing sentiments about a brand. It's too easy for customers or competitors to deflate the reputation of a questionable brand.
In some ways, I must thank you, black hats, not as a search engine optimization practitioner, but as a consumer. You're making it easier for me to weave through brands of poor quality. In addition, white hat SEOs are producing more information all the time, educating consumers of all industries, helping more of them escape poor brands, feeding them information on how to differentiate between authority, trustworthy sites and questionable ones. You can hide your black hats but they can't put proof in your pudding.