In the world of SEO, there are three kinds of techniques that practitioners use in order to woo search engine giants such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. These techniques – white hat, black hat and grey hat - are what keep the SEO globe spinning.
You can find our info graphic that presents an overview about these SEO practices in our previous post entitled Why Good SEO Pays Off. In this write up, we are going to focus on the most controversial of all three SEO techniques, the Grey Hat.
It is controversial in the sense that not all SEO practitioners agree that such technique exists and that its practices are accepted.
is GREY HAT? Simply speaking, Grey Hat is the fine line that separates White Hat and Black Hat. What makes Grey Hat appealing to businesses is that it is legal (at least for the time being) just like White Hat and it provides positive result quite fast (but not as fast) just like Black Hat.
Samples of GREY HAT Techniques
- Automated Social Media – There are available software in the market that are designed to automatically invite thousands of social media users to follow an account or to produce thousands of likes in just a short period of time.
- Expired and Old Domain Buys – Another practice that Grey Hat people take advantage of is buying authoritative old and expired domains that are highly related to a client’s niche. The reason behind this technique is that by buying an old or expired domain that has high authority, a webmaster can add backlink(s) to the site that he wants to perform well in rankings.
- Article Spinning – Since plagiarism is a big no-no in the SEO world (in any kind of world for that matter actually), what Grey Hat practitioners do is they spin articles. With an original content on hand, they will use an article spinner software or a skilled writer to “re-write” or “re-word” the original write up to produce another article that is not exactly new but plagiarism free. It is like presenting an old idea in a new kind of way. This practice is considered a grey hat technique since you basically create a duplicate content without trying to make it look like it.
- Paid Social Bookmarking and Reviews – Another Grey Hat practice that not a lot of SEO experts are happy about but many still practice is paying social bookmarking sites and other authority sites to write reviews about a business entity.
- Google Washing aka Google Bombing – This grey hat technique is about manipulating search engines to artificially raise the ranking of a website using a collective effort. One common Google bomb practice is to create a huge number of backlinks using a certain key phrase that is not necessarily related to the target website.
- Use of Microsites – Microsites are small sites that grey hat marketers put up for their clients that backlinks to the original site of their clients. Basically, a microsite acts as a traffic generator for the original site. Some microsites are as small as just having one web page each and in that single page, one outbound link points back to the target website. The trick here is that even if a microsite contains only a few web pages (or even just one!), if it has been in the web for a really long time, search engines like Google may deem that site as a high authority site. So any company who gets a backlink from that microsite will benefit because Google thinks that, that company site is linked to an authoritative site.
The BIG Argument The existence of grey hat is not acknowledged by everybody in the SEO world. However, there is no denying that this SEO technique is being recognized by a number of SEO practitioners and even applying them in their SEO efforts for their clients.
There are online marketers who would argue and say that they do bend some SEO rules for their clients making sure that they do not cross the line and obtaining the positive results that they are targeting.
Should You Use GREY HAT? Well, as the old one liner goes, “Enter at your own risk.” The decision to use grey hat SEO techniques greatly depends on how willing is the company or the client to risk its online credibility to increase its web ranking. One friendly reminder though, if ever you have decided to wear this hat for your SEO efforts, you have to keep yourself updated about the new SEO trends and rules that search engines set to make sure that you are not crossing any boundary any time.
This is so you can avoid seeing all your hard work go down the drain just because your website got penalized for an SEO technique that was legal yesterday and banned starting today. In the end, what really matters is that the SEO efforts for a client, no matter what SEO hat was used in the process, are done in accordance to the rules set by search engines to avoid getting penalized and of course, improve the client’s ranking.
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