“Black-hat” and “grey-hat” search engine optimisation (SEO) tactics promise to deliver efficient and tangible results by defying the guidelines published by search engines. Many conversations surrounding “black-hat” and “grey-hat” techniques quickly adopt a didactic tone, but it’s often much more effective to adopt a risk vs reward standpoint.
So, let’s take a closer look at some of the most prominent “black-hat” and “grey-hat” tactics.
Private blog networks (PBNs)
PBNs emerged from a desire to be able to build domain authority (DA) quickly and easily. The premise involves buying a number of expired domains with a solid DA and placing a link on them that points directly back to your website.
Although you might immediately think that this is an efficient way to build a solid backlink profile, constructing an effective PBN requires a lot of time, effort and sly tactics to avoid detection. This will involve taking a detailed look into the history of each domain to ensure it hasn’t been subject to a penalty in the past.
PBN Pros: You will retain full control over your link building efforts
PBN Cons: A site penalty can be passed on to all other linked domains
Scraped, spun or keyword-stuffed content
Good content is expensive and time-consuming to produce. As a result, scraping and spinning content is relatively prevalent across a range of industries. These processes make it simple to produce multiple variations of a single article, but Google’s increasingly intelligent algorithms have made using these tactics more and more risky.
Content Pros: It’s very easy to create large volumes of content
Content Cons: You will be risking your credibility with both search engines and users every time you hit the publish button
Tip: Focus on producing informative content that your audience wants to read.
The reality is that marketplaces can be ruthless and there are businesses who will actively try to sabotage their competitors. Negative SEO can involve buying links on a competitor’s behalf, pointing spammy links at their site, scraping and duplicating their content, launching a DDOS attack, and hacking and installing malware on their site.
Clearly many of these tactics are illegal and the rest are enormously risky.
Negative SEO Pros: Frankly, they are almost non-existent
Negative SEO Cons: You risk a total ban from search results
This is the process of presenting search engine spiders with content that is markedly different from the content that is presented to site visitors. Websites that cloak pages are often attempting to hide something from search engines whilst simultaneously trying to manipulate rankings.
Cloaking Pros: None that are outweighed by the risk
Cloaking Cons: Site penalties or blacklisting is essentially inevitable
Securing links from other sites to boost your ranking and increase your traffic is a crucial component of comprehensive SEO. This can be a time-consuming process, but it is important to remember that buying links directly defies Google’s guidelines and as such, can result in a penalty and/or a loss of rankings.
Paid Link Pros: The process is simpler than traditional link building strategies
Paid Link Cons: “White-hat” link building techniques will drive better results
Tip: Remember that buying links will often leave an obvious trail and you might need to run a removal campaign in the future.