I was lucky enough to attend Distilled’s Linkbuilding Seminar last Friday. The event was held in the Congress Centre in London and was the first of two seminars run by the agency (the other being in New Orleans).
First of all let me say a massive thanks to all the speakers involved: Will Reynolds, Jane Copland, Russ Jones, Tom Critchlow, Paddy Moogan, Rand Fishkin, Martin MacDonald and Will Critchlow. Some of the insight and knowledge that exists within our industry is staggering. After speaking with some of the other people that attended, it does again remind me that we are very lucky to be working in such an open, honest industry with such a dedicated, helpful and eager community.
That said, one of the presenters (a certain Mr Martin MacDonald) seems to have had his entire 45 minutes taken completely out of context. The slideshow was labelled “Lessons From The Darkside” and was a fascinating insight into some techniques and tips that are designed to help your every day SEO think “outside the box”. After all linkbuilding these days more than ever is all about getting the unattainable, and to do this you do need to think creatively. The general consensus from his talk (from the people that actually attended) was that not only was he an excellent speaker, but that his slide deck was a great insight into recognising black hat techniques that your competitors might be using and understanding the principles of why they work. There was an underlying message of “DO NOT USE BLACKHAT SEO” throughout the entire seminar and Martin spent the first 20 or so minutes saying this explicitly.
After the seminar there has been a bit of a furore regarding his presentation, his slide deck was made available on his website and people have completely taken it out of context. SEO is a very touchy and sensitive subject at the best of times with black hat/white hat discussions/arguments/knife fights happening all the time. The last thing SEO professionals around the world expected to see from such a big event was a very public figure saying “Black Hat is awesome, use it on your client’s sites”.
Of course Twitter went into overdrive with bored SEO’s who weren’t there and looking for something of substance to write about complaining that he was simply giving black hat tips and almost encouraging SEO’s to use them. This was not the case at all and Martin actually had to defend himself quite heavily on Twitter including the following tweet.
We are very lucky to work in such an open community with a great collective friendly mindset, but with the power of opinion stronger than ever (Twitter, blogs etc) it is a reminder that positive, excellent advice can be turned around and tarnished at the drop of a very black hat.