Here’s a humorous thread regarding an interaction between Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Engineer Matt Cutts and a few blackhat SEOs at the Google Dance during the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose.
It starts with a post by Duncan at the Blog Herald making the complaint that something fishy is going on. Matt Cutts posts a very interesting reply on his blog. The complaint was that Google was mingling with people who openly spam Google. As if Google staff would allow a spammer to gain some benefit from that? Google is smarter than that and you can read Matt’s post about it just to be sure:
“I was just as surprised as my (2 blackhat, 1 whitehat) visitors to see Larry and Sergey come down the stairwell at 1am. But I always want Larry and Sergey to take webspam seriously, so when they came over to say hello, it was fine with me to prod DaveN into telling stories. If only I´d known how much more useful info I´d get! Forget the "SEOs have alcohol, I have a soda"?? technique: from now on, I´m bringing a cardboard cutout of Sergey when I talk to SEOs. I just need a tape player that says "Uh huh, tell me more about what you do"?? and I´ll just sit back and take notes.”
Now there’s a strategy: Get the blackhat SEO’s liquored up and then googley eyed (pun intended) over the stars of the search industry and the information starts flowing. Interesting competitive intelligence collection is what I’d call it.
Barry, aka RustyBrick, mentioned to me when he took a tour of Yahoo during SES San Jose, it was mostly blackhat SEOs that were invited. At first I really wondered why this would be, an then that old adage comes to mind: keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.