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I have been reading a lot on SEO lately, and, have begun to explore the darker side of the subject, grey and black hat SEO.

I find the subject interesting from a technical and SEO perspective as many of the methods require serious skill as well as a complete lack of ethics!

What I am really interested in is how well this stuff actually works, and how far you can push it before getting banned by search engines.

Google and other search engines say they will never penalise a site for something they do not directly control, like spam links from other sites to yours. That said, if you spam your own site, then there can be a detrimental effect :shock:

That being the case, then is there any disadvantage in using grey hat techniques?

I began thinking about this after I did a “ReveiwMe” on one of my other sites, which resulted in a significant traffic increase. I wrote a post at the time on review me spin off’s, now a couple of weeks on I am better able to assess what actually resulted from this review.

In a nutshell, the company that ordered the review pointed a load of paid links from Splogs and add sites at my review. I leapt up the rankings on keywords and my traffic trippled.

One month on and its all worn off :sad: but, it does prove these techniques can work, in the short term, IF done properly.

The way most of these sites seem to operate is by buying old domains with a decent PR, and taking money for back links from them.

The problem with this is that it does not take Google long to ascertain links are being sold / duplicated across different sites, and within a few weeks / months strip the sites of their PR.

This means that buying links in this way can only be a short term measure. However, it is still possible to derive long term benefit from this, for example, I got genuine organic back links as a result of the traffic boost, i.e. some of my new visitors liked the site and back linked to it.

What I am now thinking is whether this is really any worse than buying PPC adds? Clearly Google don’t want you to do this, they want sites to pay for Adwords. People selling links in this way are effectively cheating Google out of revenue, which is why their sites / Splogs get banned.

All that said, from a site owners perspective, these grey hat techniques can offer better value than using PPC services, IF you can find a service which works (most do not).

There are some interesting articles discussing Grey and Black Hat techniques on seoblackhat.com. Be warned this site encourages spam, discusses marketing for adult sites and lots of other nasties. They don’t give too much away (trying to sell additional content) but there are some interesting case studies posted on there!

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    8 Comments

    Comment by ketyung

    I’ll only think of spending money for PPC or buying text link, if I have very profitable product and services to sell on my site :D

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    Comment by Frank

    That blackhat site is fascinating. I don’t know how many of these blackhat systems can be used for the average website but the tricks that these guys are pulling are really interesting.

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    Comment by SiteLogic

    I dont think any of these can be used by the average website. This stuff tends to be viable on a short term basis only, they get banned by search engines and start over somewhere else…

    It is really interesting though, some clever stuff discussed, without giving too much away unfortunately :-(

     
     
    Comment by Florchakh

    Spam (you call it black SEO) may be fast and successful. But there are also TWO big disadvantages: spam has a short lifetime, and you have to know how to spam if you want to get power from it :cool:

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    Comment by SiteLogic

    Yup its not easy and it is short lived, but its really interesting to read about some of the methods used….

     
     
    Comment by Paul

    Blackhat, Bluehat… as long as it help me to bring the numbers it’s good enough for me! :eek:

    PPC is definitely a must too, just keep the bargin small and manageable.

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    Comment by David Hopkins

    People say that people buying links means less people spend less money with Google. I’m not so sure. More spam = more competition, so less SEO companies will take clients on for those keywords and/or fewer companies will take an SEO company on for the price they ask. All these people end up on AdWords paying £5.50 a click for ‘car insurance quote’.

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    Comment by SiteLogic

    There are still only 11 PPC and 10 natural (default) listings on the first page of Google…. the price is only going up!!

    Despite what I read to the contrary about only “unique original content” being indexed etc… SPAM WORKS.

    I look at top sites in competitive niches, drill into their backlinks, by the second tier it is all spam….

    Spam is to Google what a plate of freshly cooked sausages is to a greedy dog…. :smile:

     
     

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