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So There: I posted about Shoemoney. Pfffft.

Until now, I have never had a reason to post about Jeremy over at I poked some fun early on, of course, on the SEO Secrets page, but nothing Jermey posted every caused me to write. I even had a conversation with an “SEO Loser” about meeting people at PubCon, where I said I had plenty of opportunity to introduce myself to Jeremy especially this year (he was generously accessible) but I had absolutely nothing I wanted to speak to him about. Lots of “fans” flock to these guys, but I am not a fan.
But now Jeremy posted this:

Anyway if you want a real SEO ask them how many blackhat forums or sites they read. If they tell you none then move on. They at least need to be educated in the dark arts even if not practicing.

Now I have something to say. I have read Shoemoney here and there since he arrived on the scene, and I listened to him before and after he attended his first DEFCON. Now he’s saying the Black Hat forums are where the real info is, like the real security info is at black hat security meetings like DEFCON.

Well, that’s okay in spirit but not accurate in practice. I am no security guru but I have been to a few DEFCONs *before* Dark Tangent et al discovered it was a moneymaker. Before they began to actually market it to corporate and government customers as Black Hat whatever. Back when it was just a bunch of less than fit or extremely fit, overly fair-skinned geeks wearing black T’s and cargo pants in the Nevada desert (in August), spending the entire first day on the cash-only registration line. Yes, that was the place to learn the shit on security. But today? By the time it is presented at DEFCON (or Black Hat), it’s been talked about behind the scenes for a long time. Yes guys like Dan Kaminsky are now sought after speakers and consultants, but guys like Dan have been smart, outgoing, hard-working guys with real jobs and positive outlooks all along. They push the envelope and always have. This is news?

Now are the “Black Hat SEO Forums” the place for real SEO knowledge? I think not. I think so-called Black Hat forums are, like Black Hat Briefings and other security conferences, marketing vehicles: mechanisms for trading knowledge for coin, exploiting audiences that have coin and want knowledge. WhomperNet for $800 month looks like a ticket to participate in a forum of your peers, with some guidance. Why do I need top pay those guys to do that? I can sponsor a lot of beer for $800/month. Shoemoney’s own CantBeatRetreat looks like a… you guessed it… a very expensive opportunity to congregate with your peers (ok..with some guidance) for that hefty $5000 plus price tag. At leasts Quadzilla kept things reasonable with Black Hat SEO forum at what, a hundred or so bucks a month? No matter how you slice it, these so-called “black hat forums” are basically a shrewd marketer’s version of USER GENERATED CONTENT.

It’s not whats inside that’s good, it’s the packaging. And as a producer of CantBeatRetreat Jeremy is guilty of the same thing, although he may believe his own scriptures. I am an competitive aggressive SEO but I don’t belong to any Black Hat SEO forums. That doesn’t make me a White Hat Evangelist (puhleeeze!) and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s up with state of the art SEO. Trust me, Jeremy, you don’t need to pay the Black Hat Forum hawkers to get the low-down on aggressive SEO tactics. I check in once in a while (via friends) and it’s pretty clear I know that of which I speak.

What you really want to know but don’t know, is expensive. But zero day knowledge is not expensive; it’s priceless.


  1. Shoemoney wrote:

    Interesting take on what I write ;)

    Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 9:28 am | Permalink
  2. Daniel wrote:

    you speak the truth – hence the initial ban by Google.

    Who in their right mind will use any Black Hat techniques or subset of? If you have a legitimate business on the web, why risk an extra point on the page rank or a higher ranking organically? It will just get your ass banned. Ever did a SERP on Brad Fallon’s company – myweddingfavors? And here is the guy trying to market he is the all guru.I think he just got pulled by the Dark side a little bit. Well, the guru got banned organically and one of the SEO experts he hired is the brains behind his initial success anyway.

    Inventors never make money sales people do.

    I have listened to shoemoney, but his spiel is hard to take. He is guilty of marketing to the marketers despite that it is a lucrative business.He is just following the tradition of the long marketers like Dan Kennedy and the rest of that crew. Nothing wrong with it, and it makes money – if that is what you want to do.

    Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  3. Jamie wrote:

    John, after reading his post then yours I don’t see that much difference between the two. I think he’s basically saying that “on page SEO” isn’t the final or best answer, thus a good SEO should know the full spectrum of techniques available. You seem to know plenty about all of the options out there. So what is the big deal?

    Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  4. Mr SEO wrote:

    Honestly, you need to know of Black SEO methods if you are to spot them. I agree with him on that. When he claims on page SEO is garbage…that is a crock. On page SEO is very important, sometimes the on page SEO is what gets pages ranked.

    Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 12:38 pm | Permalink
  5. john andrews wrote:

    Shoemoney: Thanks for stopping by.

    Daniel: “who in his right mind…” ? Well, for one a competitive webmaster up against stiff competition, where the competitor is using such tactics. How else to compete? As for Brad Fallon’s Wedding thing… that’s so old you need to recognize it for what it is… a FACT. People want FACTS. They will reliably rationalize around whatever the observations are (like, how it doesn’t rank right now) but they thirst for facts. If you want them to believe, you need to give them something to believe. I totally agree with you when you said “if that is what you want to do”.

    Jamie: No big deal… I take issue with Jeremy’s disqualification of SEOs who don’t belong to black hat forums. It’s a generalization, based on what I believe is a misconception: that SEO black hat forums are full of advanced SEO knowledge. Same old misconception, often perpetuated by marketers hawking make money schemes (like expensive mebers-only forums).

    Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 12:52 pm | Permalink
  6. Daniel wrote:

    “Daniel: “who in his right mind…” ? Well, for one a competitive webmaster up against stiff competition, where the competitor is using such tactics. How else to compete?”

    You are in the House of Google – try that blackhat stuff and you go to Siberia. They are smart enough to figure it out, and will cause you pain. I think in the end, creative marketing and a good business will take care of what you need.

    Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 1:24 pm | Permalink
  7. Cygnus wrote:

    The white vs black thing does need to end John; getting the industry to evolve won’t be too easy though.

    Friday, January 12, 2007 at 11:08 am | Permalink