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Making Money Online the Ethical Way


It’s no secret that lots of online marketers use some pretty shady practices to get traffic and make sales. To some extent, everybody has to define for themselves what’s all right and not all right, but actually there are some clear guidelines. In the world of the Internet, we split everything into three categories: white hat, grey hat and black hat.

White Hat – Nothing to Be Ashamed of

Every business has secrets that if they let out would cause damage to them. But if you’re white hat, this means you’ve got nothing to be worried about. You follow all the rules and what you do is open and transparent. This includes things like:

– Submitting content to article directories for backlinks

– Providing original quality information that helps people

– Guest blogging on other folks’ blogs

– Getting backlinks from sites that are relevant to yours

In general, you can assume you’re safe and ethical whenever you think about the user and not just the search engine. In other words, if you’re concerned with creating a good user experience, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Grey Hat – Should We Be Doing This?

If you’re engaging in some practices that you’re not totally sure you’d tell Google about, you’re what’s called grey hat. As the name suggests, this is the ethical grey area. A good way to tell if a certain practice is grey hat is to look at webmaster forums and see if people are asking, ‘Can I do this?’ Recognized grey hat methods include:

– Using content that’s not exactly 100% original such as PLR, repurposed content, spun articles, or duplicate content

– Paying for backlinks or getting backlinks any other way that’s not totally organic

– Anything slightly less than honest about your online persona

A lot of this grey area is things that aren’t clearly prohibited but people don’t admit to doing them. Grey hat techniques of today are often the black hat techniques of tomorrow.

Black Hat – Don’t Tell Anyone

Black hat is easy to define – it’s anything that goes against the Terms of Service of sites or services you use. These are things you definitely keep quiet about because getting caught means getting banned or other penalties. The list includes:

– Using generic, stolen, keyword-stuffed, scraped or any other kind of content that doesn’t give the reader value

– Deceptive practices like cloaking, doorway pages, or invisible text

– Anything blatantly dishonest

– Spamming

Some black hat practices aren’t just dodgy, they’re illegal.

What Colour Is Your Hat?

If you’re not sure if what you’re doing is ethical, it’s time to have a good think about it. You should probably quit any methods you wouldn’t openly admit to anybody. If you’re wondering, you probably have reason to.

The good news is that you can run a successful online business that’s totally honest and ethical. Just put your customers first and give them the value they’re looking for.

 Toby Russell

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