In the words of SEO Consultant, John Andrews, Gray Hat SEO is not somethingbetween Black Hat and White Hat, but rather “the practice of tactics/techniques which remain ill-defined by published material coming out of Google, and for which reasonable people could disagree on how the tactics support or contrast with the spirit of Google’s published guidelines.”
Generally it is what its name suggests. It’s somewhere in the middle of white and black and if used by a professional, can still be effective. However, it’s safe to say that taking a grey hat approach is playing with fire if you’re not 100% sure of what you’re doing and since we’re predominantly content-led now, it’s not something I would recommend.
Grey Hat SEO is the practice of using technically legal methods to improve your site rankings, but which are ethically dubious, and could one day become black hat.
Gray Hat SEO Technique –
- Three way link exchange :
Reciprocal links and link exchange has been the most widely used linkbuilding practice for years until google made it more difficult devaluing such links in its algorithm. Webmasters adapted quickly by engaging in so called three way link exchange.
- Buying old domains :
Shady SEOs buy old domains with authority and backlinks, and use them to link back to the other sites they want to rank well in the search engines.
- Duplicate Content :
Content, content. It’s the kingpin of the internet and all SEO efforts. We mentioned text spinners before and whilst a small proportion of these can be effective, it’s still a very dodgy idea to use them. To illustrate, I’m going to take some of the text from this article and put it into a free, online text spinner to show you the results.
Cloaking is a practice that shows the user a different result than it does the search engine. For Google, it’s considered to be a high-risk practice that is in violation of its rules. Personally, I would put cloaking in the black hat category and many would agree, but the jury’s still out in certain parts of the SEO community where it actually falls.
- SEO Squatting :
Buy up expired domains which are relevant to your keywords and then add some pages of content with a few well-placed backlinks to your site. Make sure that the new content is good quality and not too different from what the website hosted before. Put some adwords on the new content and then do some satellite SEO on it to keep up its trust rank.
- Create Social media accounts for your pets :
Really this works. Get some cute stories and pictures, then one day your pet suddenly develops an interest in power tools, or mobility aids, or whatever website you are trying to promote. This will then create social search links back to your website. Not against Google’s rules to do this, but could contravene the social media that it is hosted on. Then again, who’s going to sue a dog?
- Redesign your website at regular intervals :
Even if the content is more or less the same, because the code and text changes, google thinks that this is fresh content.
- Add a comments box to your site pages and invite anyone to comment :
Sure it could get you 9 million spammers to put their links on there, but if you only approve the less spammy ones and then replace their links with a rel=no follow tag, this means that you get no backlinks bleeding your page rank, but what you do get is lots of fresh content with hopefully relevant text for no effort on your part.
- Link yourself higher :
Whenever you put a comment on any blog, always make an excuse to link back to yourself. While you’re at it, get into the habit of being very helpful. Join forums where you can post solutions to other people’s problems. Moneysavingexpert.comis a great one as it gets lots of traffic and has a plethora of relevant topics.
- Use those sharing buttons unashamedly :
Add google +facebook like and tweet this buttons everywhere you can. Then click on them yourself a few times. Get your dog to click on them too.
- Set up a targeted paid directory specialising in one field :
This is a really sneaky one- eg if you are trying to promote power tools, call it a ‘power tools review website’. Then add all your competitors to the directory. Add some content over the next few weeks, then after a few weeks, change the website to say that all links on the site require a $199 inclusion fee, and then report all the competitor sites on the directory as paying for links. – this is an example of negative SEO which is difficult to ban you for
- Use the free ad Words vouchers that you get in computer magazines :
Every month I get PC Pro magazine and every month it has a £50 adwords voucher in it. Generally I set up new temporary adwords accounts, whack in the 50 quid code and set them going. Bosh. Easy traffic for free.
- Fabricate news :News websites are desperate for content, and quite a few of them have very lax authentication procedures. If you can fabricate some news and maybe get yourself a few backlinks or twitter shares on the back of it, then you can potentially get a lot of traffic.
- Charity links :
Select a few relevant small charities, make small donation and write an article about the good work that they do with a link to their donation page and then ask them to link back to you as thanks: paid links but without the google penalty.
- Use Negative SEO :
This is a collection of techniques which you can find out more about in the Negative SEO. Essentially this is forcing other websites above you down in the rankings to help your own ranking.