What is Black & Grey Hat SEO?
If you have been following our previous blogs, I am pretty sure that you are well on your way to being clued up as to the basics of SEO and what it entails. Thus far, we have discussed what SEO is, what it all entails and why it is something that business can use as a major advantage if done correctly. We have also starting delving further into SEO and discussed the concept of White hat SEO, what it means, the different techniques and tactics involved and how to implement it.
”To recap: SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility for relevant searches. The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business. The proper use of good SEO has several advantages, such as improving your overall brand credibility and trustworthiness, a better user experience, higher conversion rates, helping you outrank your competitors, and much more”
After discussing White Hat SEO, we realized that while it is the safe, ethical way of ensuring good SEO results, it is not the ONLY way. There is a riskier, more manipulative alternative called Black Hat SEO. Then, you get something in between – a mixture of “good” and “bad” called Grey Hat SEO. Today we discuss these alternatives, what they entail and whether they can be recommended as viable or suitable options for SEO purposes.
What is black hat SEO?
Black hat SEO means using risky practices. These range from using tactics that go against guidelines from search engines to more dangerous activities and is heavily frowned upon. Not following Google’s guidelines isn’t illegal. It’s purely a general consensus among SEO professionals based on the guidelines given by the closest organizations we have to a governing body. It is, however, frowned upon.
- It violates search engine guidelines
Black hat tactics violate Google’s guidelines, and in many cases, are directly referenced in these guidelines as practices you shouldn’t use.
- Relies on manipulative tactics
Black hat SEO commonly relies on deceiving and manipulating Google’s algorithm to improve rankings – making Google think that a site is better and provides more value to users than it actually does.
- Focuses on quick and easy solutions
Many of the strategies involved in black hat SEO are focused on exploiting loopholes in Google’s algorithm that can lead to improvements in rankings without much work. The problem is, that more often than not, these strategies are temporary and short-lived. That’s because Google is constantly improving its algorithm to provide the best results to searchers, and to prevent badly optimized sites and content from ranking well.
Strategies for black hat SEO include:
- Automatically generated content
- Participating in link schemes
- Creating pages with little or no original content
- Sneaky redirects
- Hidden text or links
- Doorway pages
- Scraped content
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
- Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
- Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses
What is grey hat SEO?
Grey hat entails techniques that falls somewhere in between white and black hat. Either transitioning between the two, or a mixture of the two. It’s not necessarily a bad practice, but it is being done with the intention to get ahead in the rankings. In most cases, they could be considered manipulative, but Google hasn’t named them as practices to avoid. What’s more, Gray Hat SEO changes periodically; what’s considered Gray Hat one year could be classified as Black or What Hat the following year, making it crucial for search marketers to stay informed of the latest categorizations.
Strategies for grey hat SEO include:
- Purchasing old domains
- Duplicate content
- Link buying
- Social media automation and purchasing followers
Whilst Black and Grey hat techniques have benefits such as relatively quick results when it comes to a better ranking and increased traffic, it is quite short-lived. It may be successful in the start but unfortunately it doesn’t last and may result in penalties. If you are serious about your business with long-term goals in mind, it simply isn’t worth the risk making use of black or grey SEO tactics. Websites that go against Google guidelines could be penalized by an outright, or partial ban from the search engine, which may result in a business losing its largest source of income if it can no longer be found through its main organic source. In the end, the goal of SEO is to reward web pages that offer users a quality experience with great content. Rather put in the time and effort to find a long-term solution and keep your business practices clean and risk free.