Much has been made about blackhat SEO principles and, in general, greyhat SEO principles and techniques largely go unmentioned.The differences between black and white are obvious, but shades of grey begin to overlap and the line becomes blurred as to what is acceptable and what is not.
Ultimately you must rely on sound judgment and core design principles to protect you from possible damage should you cross over that thin line.
You would think that grey area would be sufficient enough that there wouldn’t be much trouble. But the issue is really one of human nature. If you examine the spectrum of gray – it varies from very near white to very near black. Because people are looking to get the most out of their SEO efforts (which can be very time consuming and costly) they are generally only operating in a small fraction of that grey spectrum – and it is in the dark grey to nearly black region that most operate in. It all comes down to risk and reward.
By intelligent design and understanding of SEO principles, SEO experts can design a site architecture which can allow for experimentation at different levels with different degrees of risk and still isolate those activities from impacting your money site. This is where an SEO expert is worth their weight in gold. You want to be able to walk that thin tightrope, but you also want to have a safety net below you so that if you fall, you don’t take down your core business site with you. This strategy is normally divided into “feeder” sites and “money” sites and involves the creation of many different easily created “feeder” sites for which more experimentation into greyhat traffic and SEO techniques may be explored.
As an example, let’s assume you have your primary business site (your money site) and you want to experiment with driving traffic via a greyhat approach. Rather than doing this experimentation on your money site, you would create one or more “feeder” sites. A feeder site can be very simplistic, such as a single page Squidoo lens or Hubpage. Frequently social media sites are used as feeder sites because of their ease of creation and because they get a lot of SEO juice (in other words, Google and the other search engines love them). Let’s assume that your business site is a PR3 site (Page Rank 3). You can increase its authority by linking from higher page rank sites back to yours and most of these social media sites are very high (PR6 and above) ranking sites. So if you were to create a few different Squidoo lens or Hubpages pointing page to your site and “feeding” traffic to it, not only would you increase traffic but also authority, relevance and page rank. It is important to note than the design of this architecture is crucial and you shouldn’t take this brief example as a blueprint, because it leaves out many vital details that you need to discuss with a credible SEO expert.
A key concept to understand when designed for greyhat experimentation is that Google does not penalize you for a blackhat site linking to your site. It does, however, penalize you big time if you link to a blacklisted site as it sees that as a credibility issue on your part. We can’t control who links to us, and therefore, Google can’t penalize us for that. So, greyhat experimentation would allow you to try out some different experiments on some of your feeder sites knowing that the worst case scenario would simply involve loosing that site and/or account. Keep in mind, many vital small details must be adhered to in order to insure the protection of your money site. Things that you wouldn’t normally think of, such as making sure your identity is not linked to all of these feeder sites or it will be easy for Google to tie them all together. Remember that greyhat techniques ten to me much closer to blackhat techniques than whitehat techniques, so you still need to treat them with the greatest of respect and caution. You simply cannot afford to jeopardize your money site under any circumstances.
Another example of a greyhat solution would be article or content “spinning”. Article spinning involves the automated generation of multiple unique versions of an article. So, you write it once, run it through a program and spit out dozens or hundreds of unique versions. This is done because the search engines give high preference to unique content. Article spinning can either be completely whitehat, greyhat or completely blackhat depending on how you do it. A blackhat version involves completely automated efforts that generally produce very poor results, but do it with minimal effort. Whitehat article spinning, would essentially me just writing dozens of unique articles – 100% safe, but very time consuming. Enter the greyhat approach. Greyhat article spinning software is pretty intelligent. It requires more time than a purely automated approach, but far less time than a complete article rewrite approach. So, for example, a greyhat article spinner may require you to provide two variations of every sentence in your article (thus twice as much work) but from those variations it may spin that article into dozens of unique combinations of content all of which will be very human legible and articulate since every word of it was written manually. Blackhat techniques often use synonym and thesaurus look up tables and automated text and phrase substitutions, etc… all of which generally lead to poor results.
Hopefully by now, you’ve seen the benefits and risks involved with greyhat SEO principles as well and can recognize the essential role that an SEO expert will play in hand crafting and designing an SEO friendly architecture for your site or network of sites.