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What is the difference between grey and white hat SEO?

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I’ve heard the phrase “black hat SEO” and read the description under that answer, but I’m not sure what grey hat SEO is so I’m not sure if I’m doing it or not. Can anyone define it for me? Will I get in trouble if I do it?

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3 answers

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michaelcyger [ Admin ]

White hat SEO is the process of using "ethical" techniques to help a website rank high in search engine result pages. These techniques are recommended by the search engines themselves, as they help the search engines also, and include things like: proper <title> tags, appropriate meta descriptions, <h1> tags, alt tags for images, etc.

Grey hat SEO techniques fall in the region between white hat SEO and those areas that are known to be wrong -- black hat SEO. Some people call grey hat SEO techniques to be "aggressive" SEO. I've used it at times for pages that I wanted to show up higher in search engine results for phrases that are more competitive. They're techniques that range from ethical to non-ethical, depending on the greyness.

Google and other search engines will not tell you where a firm line lies, or if you cross a line what specifically will happen. However, you or your SEO provider take a risk if you cross into the grey area as your webpage and/or website URL may be penalized.

Grey hat SEO techniques and tactics may include:
  • Keyword or phrase stuffing
  • Meta-tag keyword or phrase stuffing
  • Paid links on other sites for the purpose of increasing your link popularity
  • Planning multi-way linking between sites
NN comments
frank herr
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Thanks! Just what I needed.

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1

awbrowni30

I would also include blog ‘spamming’ in the grey area depending on how you’re writing the comment.  This is an area that can get you into trouble too.

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frank herr
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Thanks for your reply. What is “blog spamming”? I’ve never heard of that before.

awbrowni30
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herr – it’s really blog commenting. I call it spamming just due to the majority of blog comments are sometimes ‘spammy’ in nature. For instance, you’ll have some consultants/agencies use blog commenting as a way to build links for their clients. Sometimes the blog owner will view those comments as spam even if the comment is legit. Some look at this as negative behavior and could report one as a spammer which would not be good for the person(s) or sites invovled.

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0

spacecowboy [ Editor ]

Sound’s like a bit of a grey area to me…. I think that the general rule of thumb is that if you feel what you are doing is slightly unethical, then chances are it is. Stick in the grey hat bucket.


Contrary to Micheal’s points I would suggest that two-way link planning is ethical, why shouldn’t you share links between your site and a “sister” site? paid for listings in directories is perfectly legitimate – in fact this is a good way of increasing your rankings assuming the directory has a good PR. However linkfarming is unethical, google will probably catch you out and therefore pointless if you are in any way serious

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awbrowni30
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I agree, spacecowboy. I’ve seen companies have a holding company website linked to niche business sites and niche business sites linked to one another as a way to increase PR.

spacecowboy
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as long as the sites have unique content I don’t see the problem with that really – but I’m no expert of course – it would seem to me that if you were lucky enough to own ham.com and eggs.com there’s no reason why you shouldn’t link them together

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