Is MetaWebs White Hat Or Black Hat?

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A software release from SEO “expert” Nathan Anderson, claiming to offer “The First White Hat Software Tool” has been met with some contempt. The program is supposedly able to “(generate) non-foot-printable, traffic-generating-websites the search engines absolutely love”

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While this sounds like a doorway page generator, Anderson believes his product is different because unlike doorway pages, “MetaWebs are likely to be bookmarked and revisited because of their valuable content.” Meaning his product creates pages with actual content (for $249 a month, plus a $200 setup fee), while doorway page generators just produce pages designed to trick search engines.

Doorway pages, as defined by About.com, are “pages designed to be visible only by search engine spiders, and usually just have blobs of keywords all over them.” MetaWebs, on the other hand, “creates websites that are highly optimized, formatted in php templates, and filled with live, active content from my Meta search engine.” Since people use the product to create pages using Anderson’s content, it seems like Anderson is the beneficiary, financially and otherwise (a doorway for Anderson’s sites?).

Reaction to the release of MetaWebs, especially its connotation as a White Hat software tool, was met with disbelief and disdain in some circles. The criticism revolves around the concept of spam ruining search engine results. Many feel that SERPs have become overcrowded with spam sites and doorway pages. Furthermore, some feel that page generators such as MetaWebs are to blame for the increase in search engine spam.

On the IHelpYou forums, Doug Heil initiated a post discussing the launch of MetaWebs and voiced his displeasure. The first response to Doug’s post was by Bernard, an IHY moderator, who said, “How long will it be before Google’s AdSense team starts cracking down on AdSense accounts that are used on pages generated from keyword tools like this?”

While Doug feels that programs like MetaWebs “will be used for is spam. It will leave the tracks necessary for Google to eventually detect the machine generation, and then those pages or sites will be dropped.” The point of those against MetaWebs has to do with the software being called “white hat” because its an automation tool and because of the misuse, software generated pages are not considered a decidedly black hat technique. However, Anderson was present during this discussion and defended his product throughout.

According to him, MetaWebs does have the potential to produce spam pages, but that’s not his fault. It’s the fault of those that use his product to do so. This point is made clearly by Anderson when he said, “Especially if people don’t customize the pages that MetaWebs spits out. But if they think of MW as a site-building tool, instead of a spam page machine, they should never have a problem.

It’s up to the user as to how they use the software. You could churn out pages using the advanced tools in Dreamweaver. Doesn’t mean that Dreamweaver is bad software.” Anderson feels that he is “empowering the masses with something that circumvents the SEO.”

This point is quickly countered by Quadrille, who says, “no – you are helping spammers. Small difference, I know – but when it comes to epitaphs, I know which I’d rather have. You must do what you think is right; but please don’t kid yourself you are doing something good, because it stinks.” Another point was made by a poster named Mcanerin, who said, “It’s a totally different thing altogether to market (MetaWebs) as risk-free’ and white hat’ to people who don’t know better. That’s false advertising at best and fraud at worst.”

IHelpYou was not the only place discussing Anderson’s new product. On Jill Whalen’s HighRankings.com forum, they also had a topic devoted to MetaWebs. During this conversation, Dan Thies also had issues with MetaWebs claiming to create sites that are “non-footprintable”.

“I think he’s going to have to change his sales letter to stop claiming that these pages can’t be footprinted. That’s one claim that is definitely false. It took me about 15 minutes to write a Google API script in PHP to fish these out of the SERPs, starting with a very small list of seed terms (<20 words). I stopped it at 25 results, but it's like shooting fish in a barrel to find these "unfootprintable" pages."

The question remains, is MetaWebs a benevolent tool for site construction and promotion, or is it a black hat spam machine? What do you think?

Chris Richardson is a search engine writer and editor for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest search news.

Is MetaWebs White Hat Or Black Hat?
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