What Is Grey Hat SEO?

A Mississauga business recently contacted us asking for an estimate to do Grey Hat SEO for their website.

Of all the hats that you thought a search engine marketer could don, Grey Hat happens to be the most confusing one.

Because it lies in its ambiguous form, somewhere between ethical White Hat and Shady Black Hat.

But what most people do not realize is where one ends and the other begins.

The fact is that there is no fixed definition for Grey Hat SEO. It is a term devised by Internet Marketers to explain the use of certain tactics that are not clearly defined by search engines.

These techniques are not exactly what webmasters would like to boast about. But they are not downright underhand techniques either that’d get you a penalty in the blink of an eye. Faster results maybe, but with an obvious risk.

Let us explain.

Understanding Grey Hat

To better understand how Grey Hat works, it is important that you first understand what White hat SEO is.

Search Engines like Google have always been vocal about the factors that can affect ranking. Consequently, a set of best practices evolved which were considered to be ethical by Google. Creating quality content, ‘earning’ not ‘building’ links, using social media to interact and engage with the target audience and so on and so forth. These White hat techniques are the only way to optimize a website according to what Google considers ethical.

But due to the uncertain nature of search results, Google’s never ending algorithmic updates and the obvious prolonged time frame, difficulty and limitations to execute a White hat SEO strategy, another group of people created a different set of strategies like Link Cloaking, Keyword stuffing, doorway pages and Link injections which are clearly in violation of the terms and conditions of every search engine on the planet. These came to be known as Black Hat SEO or the bad guys.

Grey Hat SEO tries to find a middle path. It involves the use of certain tactics which are not White Hat. But which can get you results a lot sooner than conventional techniques with the risk of a penalty hitting you sooner or later.

So, the question to be asked is, ‘Should you be thinking about Grey Hat SEO’?

Some Grey Hat SEO techniques

Here are some of the popular Grey Hat SEO techniques used by internet marketers in recent times.

  • Buying Old Domains:

    Rather than writing a top quality article, pitching it to multiple websites and waiting for weeks to see whether its accepted or not, why not buy an old expired domain with good statistics (PR, DA, PA) and get a back link from it in no time?

  • Content Spinning:

    Since Google emphasizes on the use of original content to acquire links, some internet marketers came up with Content Spinning software that scrapes articles from other websites, replaces the words with their synonyms and comes up with an original article that makes for a doltish reading experience.

  • Buying Links:

    There are many websites with good metrics which offer a link in exchange for a one time or a recurring fee. Buying links is frowned upon by search engines. But is one of the easiest ways to get a quality backlink in very little time.

  • Automating Social Media:

    Automated Social Media Bots can get you thousands of likes, follows and shares which would otherwise take years to get. While it may not be completely illegal, it is certainly considered as dishonest by Google.

Should you be doing Grey Hat SEO?

Like Black Hat SEO, Grey Hat SEO will only get you temporary gains if any. Eventually, Google will catch up and penalize the website. And a penalty, no matter how mild it may seem, is something that is best avoided.

So, if you are thinking about long term results for your Mississauga business, then Grey Hat is not the best choice for you.


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