Seriously, since when did efficiency become “black hat”? I suppose nowadays with all the newbies using WordPress and calling themselves SEOs, actual coding skillz are Black Hat too?
Competitive Webmastering. That comes as back office efficiency, strategic cleverness, mad tactical skillz, incredible stamina, unbridled aggressiveness, or any number of other forms. Read my lips: just because you can’t keep up doesn’t make it Black Hat, ok?
So you’ve got WordPress. So does everyone else. So you know how to install a plugin. Conrats. Do you know most plug ins are poorly written and many introduce bugs and security holes into your “platform”? If you use WordPress and plugins, you should know at least the basics of PHP. Like how to do a quick security audit. And how to scan for craziness like encrypted front-end cloaking code. If you just plug and use this stuff, you are a noob and not a pro. And a pro is not a “Black Hat”, any more than I am a pay per click advocate. How many times do I meet an professional SEO who has a list of plugins he uses… he should have a set of plugns he uses, each of which can be a customized version of existing plugins, or better yet a custom plugin. I have yet to meet a plugin I like right “out of the box”, or one I don’t at least hack a little before deploying. Yes, even UTW. Yes, it’s a lot of work. Ever wonder why SEO is expensive? It’s not because the ranking reports take so long to format.
Did you know WordPress has post-by-email? Wow… automated posting from afar. While it may seem advanced, it’s not. It’s kind of risky… you’re hooking WordPress into your mail receiving/sending agents. All sorts of things can happen. Is it wise? Should you use it? How should you use it? All good questions. And when you address all that, make your decisions, hack the code to protect yourself, and automated your blogging operations to utilize forwarding and lists, and your mail processor to auto insert/relace/munge the “unique content” N times, are you “Black Hat”? Nah. Just pretty good at what you set out to do.
Your not using version management? With externals? Why the hell not? Is that, too “Black Hat”? Give me a break. It seems “Black Hat” is a label for “things that give a competitive advantage, and which are not widely understood/utilized”. Puhleeeeeeze. Eye on the prize, people. Bragging rights follow the rank, not the labels or the chatter. If that’s not true today, it’s just a matter of time.