What is: Grey Hat SEO?

Define Grey Hat SEO

Table of Contents


The grey hat SEO defines those SEO practices that fall around in between white hat SEO and black hat SEO. Grey hat SEO tactics are technically legal according to search engine terms and conditions but are ethically questionable in the eyes of society.

Detailed Explanation of Grey Hat SEO

As you probably know by now, the world of SEO (search engine optimization) is an intricate space indeed, with a long list of tactics, strategies, methodologies, and techniques used for improving search engine rankings. Especially if you own a business website or any website that needs a massive flow of traffic, search optimization is one of the best things to focus on in your marketing and growth strategy.

Indeed, search engine optimization is a realm full of seemingly complicated terms, such as a redirect, squatting, stuffing, and more. In order to begin with search engine optimization, however, an excellent place to start is with understanding the basics. Above all, it is vital to understand the distinction between the three primary categories of SEO tactics. These categories consist of white hat SEO, Black Hat SEO, and Grey Hat SEO. Today, we will be discussing the Grey Hat SEO.

While we all would hope that SEO is an all-positive topic, the truth is that it’s not. In fact, it’s crucial for you to understand that there are good SEO tactics, bad SEO tactics, and those that fall somewhere in between. Of course, bad SEO tactics (referred to as black hat SEO) should be avoided at all costs. However, there are some tactics that fall somewhere in the middle of good and bad – called grey hat SEO – and that is what we will be discussing today.

What is Grey Hat SEO?

First of all, if you’re unsure of where the black, grey, and white hat terminology came from, it truly originated in the film industry. In old western cowboy films, bad guys would wear black hats, and good guys would wear white hats. The terminology only fairly recently became associated with the web and technology. Today, black, grey, and white hat are terms used to refer to bad or good people on the internet, such as hackers (bad) or web developers (good).

As mentioned earlier, the grey hat SEO describes those SEO tactics that fall somewhere in between white and black. Grey hat SEO tactics are technically legal according to search engine terms and conditions but are ethically questionable in the eyes of society.

Following the trend of the fact it’s called ‘grey’ hat, there are some grey areas when it comes to determining which SEO tactics are actually considered grey hat. For example, paid links and duplicate content are often listed as grey hat SEO tactics when, in fact, they are black hat tactics since they are deemed illegitimate by search engine terms.

Documented Grey Hat SEO Techniques

Oftentimes, grey hat SEO techniques turn to black hat SEO once Google or another search engine learns about them and adds them to the “blacklist.” However, at least as of right now, let’s take a look at some of the SEO tactics that are determined to be grey hat SEO.

  • SEO Squatting
  • Pet or fake social media accounts
  • Redesigning a website at regular intervals
  • Clicking your own share buttons
  • Fabricated news
  • Charity links
  • Negative SEO tactics (such as tattling)
  • Keyword association manipulation
  • Spun/copied content
  • Link chains
  • Paid reviews

What You Should Do About Grey Hat SEO

While your business decisions are entirely up to you, we recommend not using grey hat SEO tactics. Although they are not technically illegal, they are general ill-received by the masses and present a greater risk for you to violate Google guidelines. Unless you really have to utilize grey hat SEO tactics, you’re much better off opting for white hat SEO strategies instead.