In simpler terms ‘Grey Hat SEO’ techniques lie somewhat between White and Black hat SEO practices. Although a better definition would be that these are the techniques that are not exactly categorized as permissible or prohibited and may or may not result in a site getting blacklisted. The decision to get involved with Grey Hat SEO optimizations is an intricate one because the steps taken might become a brilliant out of the box solution resulting in increased Search Engine Result Page (SERP) ranking leading to increased online traffic or might result in the webpage getting penalized.
Much like Black Hat SEO practices, Grey Hat techniques are generally self-explanatory. The simple question to gauge whether an optimization technique is White or not is “will this tactic improve user experience or will it only improve site’s search engine ranking?”. Ideal and long-term solution is always to rely on original content with strategically placed prevalent keywords and phrases with or maybe even without White Hat SEO. Anything else will constitute a borderline, if at all permissible, case. Some of the techniques employed by SEO experts involve “Cloaking” where fake pages are created to trick search engines, buying of links and old domains (SEO Squatting) to improve backlinking ratio, copying or spinning content, using social media automaton tools of generating followers, or even buying followers / traffic / reviews for your webpage, regularly yet unnecessarily updating website’s content etc.
The sole purpose of SEO is to generate higher ranking in the SERP index and to generate greater qualitative traffic and although Grey Hat SEO can provide better results than white hat SEO techniques, the chances of getting backlisted or at least penalized by search engine always remains. The policies providing guidelines to search engine optimizers are ever evolving and search engines are regularly updated their criteria’s and “Webmaster Guidelines” therefore web developers and SEO experts always need to be on the lookout; a Grey Hat technique might become White or Black in the next round of parameter updates. This is also evident form the latest Google updates i.e. panda, penguin etc. which made the rules for SEO much stricter than before. You must consider your own business interests; are they long term or short term, do you need consistent online traffic? is higher SERP ranking beneficial to you? If either of the answer is in ‘yes’ it is advisable to avoid even ‘Grey Hat SEO’.
Grey Hat SEO might be a tempting alternative to white hat SEO because of the freedom in optimization techniques versus the considerably quicker benefits that can be reaped from it however the negative aspects should also be evenly considered. If done carefully and by some trained professional Grey Hat SEO techniques might work wonders but being a borderline scenario, it might not be feasible in the long run for a webpage or organization to lose online traffic just for some marginal or short-term benefits.