Previously we’ve talked about white hat and black hat SEO practices and what they mean to the SEO landscape. But what if a practice falls in the moral middle ground and isn’t clearly defined by most search engines? That’s what you call grey hat SEO.
What is Grey Hat SEO?
Grey hat SEO is comparable to a loophole in search engine ethics rules. It doesn’t necessarily break the rules, but it feels as though you’re doing something underhanded. In fact many developers and website owners might not even be aware that they are using grey hat SEO techniques to improve their website rankings.
Various Grey Hat Techniques
Grey hat techniques range from mundane to blatantly rule breaking. Nevertheless these techniques are allowed on search engines like Google until otherwise stated. Do note that these are just a few of the grey hat techniques that are used by crafty SEO developers. There are many more out there that might not have even been discovered.
Similar to Youtube clickbaiting, this technique tries to make your articles as attractive as possible. But this isn’t for readers looking to read up on the topic of your article. It is more for other writers and developers so that they’ll create links to your article. You could even pay other sites to link their articles to your site. This technique creates a web of articles leading back to yours which massively bumps up your ranking.
Squatting in SEO terms means buying out an expired domain and using it to boost your own rankings. How this works is that you buy a domain that has some sort of relationship to your own. It can range from similar products, information or services. Then you put content into the new website with links leading back to your primary site. Now you have two websites generating traffic to boost your rankings.
Negative SEO is quite possibly the most blatantly black hat technique in the grey hat arsenal. This is a collection of techniques that doesn’t aim to boost your rankings with great content. It is far more sinister. It aims to destroy your competitor’s rankings by sabotaging their sites. From viruses to manipulating their ads and bounce rate, this technique uses every dirty trick in the book, all under Google’s nose. With your opposition’s rankings sinking like the Titanic, yours will easily rise to the top of the rankings.
Should You Be Using Grey Hat Tactics?
The short answer is:
The long answer is:
It’s a great way to boost your rankings without actually breaking rules. Many grey hat tactics, however, are borderline black hat tactics and could be added to the long list of black hat techniques eventually. This could mean that you could get caught by Google with your pants down when they decide to update their terms of service or webmaster guidelines and list these formerly grey hat techniques as black hat ones. If you haven’t updated your content and/or website by the time their changes take effect, you could get flagged immediately. This will affect your website’s ranking and may even get you delisted from searches.
If you want to avoid unnecessary grief and effort, just stick to what Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine is allowing on their platform.