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Gray Hat SEO Tutorial - How to Improve Your Search Results Without Breaking The Rules

Gray Hat SEO is an SEO practice that's riskier than White Hat SEO, but one that may or may not result in your site being banned from search engines and their affiliate sites. Generally, Gray Hat SEO practices belong in neither the Black Hat nor White Hat category because the terms of service regarding the issue are unclear. In this tutorial, you'll get the answers to the following questions:

  • What is Gray Hat SEO?
  • Why is it important?
  • What Gray Hat SEO should mean to you

So, What IS gray Hat SEO, Anyway?

Gray Hat SEO is difficult to define. In the words of SEO Consultant, John Andrews, Gray Hat SEO is not something between Black Hat and White Hat, but rather "the practice of tactics/techniques which remain ill-defined by published material coming out of Google, and for which reasonable people could disagree on how the tactics support or contrast with the spirit of Google’s published guidelines."  

Why Are gray Hat SEO Techniques Important to You?

Though Gray Hat SEO practices are on the chancy side, they can be more beneficial than standard White Hat SEO methods--it's simply reward in exchange for risk. A good example of Gray Hat SEO is link buying. Google specifically prohibits parties from participating in "link schemes."

Let's consider site A and site B to be relevant, similar websites.

  • Situation One (Google Approved): Site A is sponsoring an event for site B, thus site B links to them as a thank you. Site A is indirectly paying for the link and referring traffic
  • Situation Two (Google Disapproved?): Site A asks site B to post a link to their website in exchange for a fee. Both parties agree to the practice and visitors to site B may find site A helpful.

Is situation two necessarily a scheme? If both sites are happy and visitors to Site B find useful information on Site A, is it wrong? It's easy to see how educated and reasonable people can completely disagree on this, which is exactly how Andrews defines Gray Hat.

A proper understanding of Gray Hat SEO is important because it could improve your site's ranking without negative consequences, or it could cost you thousands in lost traffic. Google's best practices and conditions have the capacity to prohibit clever innovation and thinking outside the box. This prohibition isn't automatically in the interest of search marketers or even the searchers themselves. 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.

Should You Be Implementing gray Hat SEO Methods?

You don't gain much by getting on Google's bad side, but oftentimes thinking outside the box is what defines a great idea. So where does this leave you, you ask? We suggest not sticking exclusively to White Hat SEO, but rather using White Hat automation in your search campaigns. Automation is generally considered Black Hat, but there is such a thing as White Hat automation, another potential definition of Gray Hat SEO. In order to stay competitive in search marketing without increasing costs and time commitment, White Hat automation is your best option. 

WordStream is the perfect marriage of differentiation and adherence to guidelines. The software was created with Google's terms and conditions in mind, but also to automate repetitive tasks to improve Quality Score, save time, and lower costs. These tools include:

  • Keyword Discovery Tool: With our SEO keyword tool, you can add some JavaScript to your website and the keyword software finds relevant keywords that people use to find your website--literally growing your keyword list as you sleep
  • Keyword Grouping Tool: This automatically organizes your keywords by relevance, a key component of a good Quality Score
  • Ad Text Tool: The Ad Text tool automatically populates your ad copy with appropriate keywords, making sure your creative is relevant to its Ad group. 

Whether you're finding new relevant keywords, improving the relevance of your keyword groups, or creating keyword-rich ad copy, you're following Google's best practices.

See what it's like to automate White Hat practices with WordStream. Learn more by

 
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