After months of searching and failing to find Lord Black Hat, Gadget BizHound finally returned home. Despite his apparently failure, his parents welcomed him with open arms and began excitedly telling him about all that they had learned from the White Hat Team. With all the newly enlightened business owners, the team also began working on a new strategy to combat the Dark Lord and his minions.
And that’s not all! It turned out that The Search Engine had planned for Gadget to go on his hopeless mission as a clever ruse to distract the enemy. Meanwhile, Penguin was awarded a promotion to not only better equip him to deal with the Linkers – unethical link building strategists, a major source of trouble in Newhoundland – but also ensure that innocent victims are able to recover and return to normal operations as soon as possible.
Rather than constantly running new reports, Penguin has now been provided with a perpetually running report that would continually reassess business owners as they manage to rid their website of Linkers. Business owners who had been entrapped indefinitely would now have the chance to be free. In addition, Penguin is now able to focus his attention on specific violations rather than an entire business owner’s website, effectively devaluating Spam created by the Linkers.
Gadget was very happy with this development, knowing that it has made the White Hat Team stronger than ever. However, there was one more thing that bothered him. How does Possum fit into all this?, he wondered.
The team was able to answer this question as well: Apparently, “Possum” is an alias for a secret force that hides offending listings. The mere fact that his presence has not yet been officially announced makes his name quite fitting.
Intrigued, Gadget immediately began helping his teammates incorporate all the new findings into a foolproof battle strategy, called Operation Spam Slaughter.
When we last left Gadget BizHound, he embarked on a solo mission to find Lord Black Hat, leaving the White Hat Team to teach local insurance agents the best practices for getting their businesses noticed without breaking The Search Engine’s guidelines. Despite his best efforts, however, Gadget was having a difficult time locating the Dark Lord. Eventually, our hero had to admit that the enemy has moved elsewhere and likely plans to return when Newhoundland least expects him.
As Gadget was on his way home from his incomplete mission, he received word of the latest addition to the White Hat Team. Apparently, the new member’s name is Possum, and he is The Search Engine’s secret weapon for combating fraudulent activity in the Pack of Three. Given the BizHound family’s recent battle with a false business created by Lord Black Hat to displace them from the top three search results, Gadget realized that Possum could make the team stronger than ever!
Although not all of Possum’s full potential has yet been revealed to the public eye, some of the common issues that he has been able to resolve thus far include:
Even these few simple achievements make Possum seem like a formidable opponent against Lord Black Hat, and Gadget could not be happier that Possum was on the side of good and not evil. I hope that we can meet him soon!, thought Gadget to himself.
First, let's take a moment to become reacquainted with our main characters:
1. Gadget BizHound – Insurance Detective, whose goal is to save his parents' insurance agency from Lord Black Hat and educate other agents about unethical ranking tactics along the way.
2. Lord Black Hat – Gadget's arch-nemesis, whose mission is to bring down all insurance agencies with Black Hat SEO.
3. The White Hat Team – Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird "Algorithms," i.e., a powerful team working for The Search Engine to destroy Lord Black Hat.
As Gadget went off on his own to reclaim his greatest weapon against the Dark Lord, the White Hat Team had their own decisions to make: Taking a leaf out of Gadget's book of adventures, they agreed that the best way to protect the BizHound Insurance Agency from more attacks was to set up an educational headquarters within the agency. Its aim would be to teach Gadget’s parents and other local insurance agents about the dangers of unethically manipulating The Search Engine’s attention.
Without further ado, they held their first seminar on the topic of keyword stuffing. Lord Black Hat once had a team of minions known as the Stackers, bent on destroying the quality of insurance agents’ advertising by manifesting as a single search term multiple times with no rhyme or reason. In fact, the BizHounds had been the last to face this type of attack, finding their agency covered in signs that read “Newhoundland Insurance.” It was lucky that Gadget eliminated them before The Search Engine was notified.
Upon hearing this story, there was an instant uproar! It turned out that many local agents had been unknowingly exposed to the same ordeal. Thinking that this was helping their rankings, they continued to perform keyword stuffing in their advertising even after the original Stackers were gone.
It is just as we suspected, the White Hat Team thought in unison. They proceeded to explain that the quality of one’s advertising was now more important than ever. Although keywords remain central to an insurance agency’s success, the Content surrounding those keywords must be relevant to specific Searchers whom each agent would like to attract.
Nodding in understanding, Mr. and Mrs. BizHound and their fellow insurance agents vigorously took notes to ensure that they would never engage in keyword stuffing again.
When we last left Gadget BizHound and the White Hat Team, they had not only dealt with a business’s major violation of The Search Engine’s rules but they also saved the BizHound Insurance Agency from losing any more of their clients by no fault of their own. Little did the White Hat Team know that their attention was about to be diverted by Lord Black Hat once more!
After Gadget’s first in-depth look at an unethical link building investigation, the team saw a substantial increase in the frequency of similar reports, forcing Penguin to undertake the investigations on his own. Gadget sensed that Penguin was being led on a wild goose chase with the goal of separating the team, and he decided to remain at the team’s headquarters in case he was needed elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Hummingbird was busy with his duties as the leader of the team, analyzing Searchers’ queries and directing them to the most relevant, high quality businesses. Unfortunately, he discovered that he was in fact leading Searchers away from the BizHound Insurance Agency, something that he was hesitant to tell his new friend and valuable fourth member of the team.
Upon learning of Hummingbird’s discovery, Gadget rushed to his parents’ agency immediately only to witness the damage from yet another attack by Lord Black Hat. While he had lost most of his trusty minions to Gadget’s retaliation, the Dark Lord himself was capable of wreaking havoc on Mr. and Mrs. BizHound’s advertising tactics.
Lord Black Hat destroyed all the signs pointing towards the agency and deleted much of the information from the BizHounds' meticulously structured website. The result was very poor quality advertising that was neither relevant nor authoritative enough for Searchers – the type of search result that Hummingbird had been instructed to avoid.
With the White Hat team's protection, the BizHounds immediately set to work on restoring their high standing with The Search Engine yet again. Restoring all the valuable information would take some time, but our brave agency owners were ready for the challenge.
While everyone was thus distracted, Gadget snuck off on his own to find his missing monocle once and for all. Although he was confident in his own abilities, his instincts told him that the monocle was the key to finally ending this battle – and winning!
It has been a very quiet couple of weeks for the White Hat Team. Aside from a few appearances from The Naps, interfering with the names, addresses and phone numbers of local businesses, there has been no sign of Lord Black Hat. Gadget pointed out the now-predictable intervals between the Dark Lord’s disappearances and attacks, and the team agreed that the time is approaching for him to strike again.
No sooner had they finished this discussion that they received an urgent message from The Search Engine: An insurance business not far from the BizHounds’ agency was reported to be engaging in unethical link building to lure Searchers to them. The team immediately looked to Penguin, as this was his area of expertise. Penguin, in turn, looked to Gadget to lead the way, and the White Hat Team began their newest investigation.
This was a particularly strong violation of The Search Engine’s guidelines, and Gadget was able to quickly track several areas of concern for Penguin to deal with: The business owners have apparently paid Black Hat’s Linkers to spread word about their business throughout the vast network controlled by The Search Engine. The Linkers have also taken the initiative to make many irrelevant comments on the blog articles of others, linking them to that insurance business. An in-depth look at the company’s operations revealed that they are working directly with Lord Black Hat to create better exposure for themselves. In fact, this company’s links had been diverting potential clients from Gadget’s parents!
Acting with no hesitation as always, Penguin awarded the offending business with a major penalty and a warning that they will be closely watched from now on. If they do not cease all contact with Lord Black Hat, their advertising efforts will be banned entirely.
Gadget was happy with the victory, and yet he noticed one potentially fatal flaw: The White Hat team can award penalties and scare unethical business owners into compliance, but they cannot actually destroy the Dark Lord’s minions. We absolutely must get my monocle back! Gadget decided.
He was also relieved that at least the BizHound Insurance Agency was spared the humiliation this time. Or is this yet another distraction tactic?