Top 10 Gray Hat SEO Techniques to Quickly Uplift Your Website’s Rankings In 2018
We often talk about essential SEO tips and techniques here at Bloggers Passion. Do you know why? We know SEO works. It works like a charm and gives fantastic results if done right.
If you’re someone who’s looking for various ways to increase your search engine traffic, try the gray hat SEO techniques mentioned on this post. So first let’s talk about what is gray hat SEO and what are the best SEO practices that you can implement on your site to skyrocket your search traffic.
Table of Contents
- What is Gray Hat SEO?
- Top 10 Gray Hat SEO Techniques You Can Try In 2018
- #1. Domain grabbing
- #2. Increase your average content length of old content
- #3. Web 2.0 for building links
- #4. The usage of PBN
- #5. “Careful keyword stuffing”: Find the perfect keyword density
- #6. Start using social bookmarking sites
- #7. Link exchange
- #8. Submit your site to web directories
- #9. Multiple social media accounts
- #10. Build microsites
What is Gray Hat SEO?
If you’re into SEO for awhile, you may already be well aware of different types of SEO which are mainly;
- White hat SEO (deals with good SEO practices that obey Google rules)
- Black hat SEO (deals with ugly SEO practices that might get your site penalized)
- Gray hat SEO (it’s a combination of the above two)
Once you’re start getting good results with white hat SEO, you might want to try some edgeplay techniques to boost your SEO results really quickly. Here’s where gray hat SEO comes into play.
Gray hat SEO mainly deals with dubious tactics that some of them one day could become black hat. You can consider these gray hat SEO techniques somewhat risky but they give you tremendous results if you practice them right.
You can consider gray hat SEO techniques as “questionable techniques that actually don’t offend your website visitors but work like a charm”. So there’s nothing wrong in trying them out especially when you’re looking for desperate ways to grow your search engine traffic.
So without any ado, let’s talk about top 10 gray hat SEO techniques that you can use on your site to grow search traffic.
Top 10 Gray Hat SEO Techniques You Can Try In 2018
#1. Domain grabbing
One of the widely used gray hat SEO techniques is buying expired domains (also known as domain grabbing) which still works like a charm if done carefully.
What is domain grabbing?
In simple terms, buying domains to increase your own website’s SEO is known as domain grabbing. Domain grabbing is nothing new. Buying expired domains in order to improve your website’s backlink profile is one of the most used SEO tactics by a lot of people worldwide.
Domain grabbing can be of two types.
- Buying expired domains
- Buying new domains
The first one is widely popular because you can buy authority expired domain names which already has a good backlink profile along with some trustworthiness. When you buy those expired domain names to link back to your blog posts or home page, you’ll definitely get a boost in your search engine rankings.
Although it’s not recommended to buy a ton of expired domains just to increase your website’s SEO. But by buying highly relevant and great backlink profile expired domain names every now and then can definitely help you increase your website’s rankings on search engines like Google.
Before buying expired domains to increase your website’s rankings, here are few vital things that you need to remember.
Find out the DA of domain: DA (Domain Authority) of a domain is a good metric which was developed by Moz team. DA easily helps you find out the popularity of a domain. If it is good (anything above 30), you can consider the domain backlink profile is good and you can think about buying that expired domain.
Check for any toxic links: You never know what kind of backlinks that an expired domain has. If it is fully filled with toxic links or broken links, there’s no use of buying it for the SEO purposes. So make sure to use tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs etc to find the domain backlink sources.
So how do you find and buy expired domains to boost your website’s SEO?
Here are some of the helpful tips for finding great expired domains to increase your website’s SEO.
Find domains that are at least of 3 years old: One of the simplest ways to find valuable link worthy expired domains is to find out their age. If they are registered for over 3 years, that’ll definitely have positive impact on search engines when compared to recently bought and expired domains. You can use WhoIs Domain lookup for finding the domain age and other information of any expired domain.
Clean backlink profile: Always make sure to spend time on finding the backlink profile of expired domains as most of them have messy backlink profiles which are either spammy or completely irrelevant to the context of the domain you’re looking for. There are so many tools available out there to analyse the backlink profile of a domain which include SEMrush, SERP stat, Ahrefs, Monitor Backlinks etc.
Avoid toxic links built domains: There are so many expired domains which consist of toxic backlink anchor texts which usually contain chinese, russian or other foreign language texts which are useless for your website’s SEO. So avoid them if you’re looking to buy good SEO value expired domains.
Use Internet Archive: Wayback Machine which is also known as Internet Archive consists of over 300 billion web pages history on the internet which is really helpful for you to carefully analyse any domain that you want to buy.
Referring domains between 50 to 100: Make sure to buy those expired domains which already have referring domains more than 50. That makes sure that you’re buying an expired domain which already has links from over 50 different sites on the internet.
Quick tip: Here are few top places to find expired domains where you will find a list of few of the best marketplaces to find and buy great expired domain names.
Make 301 redirect
Once you’re done with the research of finding great expired domains, it’s time for you to redirect all the bought domains to your primary website.
Here’s where you need to use 301 redirect. So what is it?
301 redirect is a redirection process where a page is permanently moved to a new location such as web page or website. It guides the search engines like Google to redirect users to a new page location. Most importantly, it passes 90% of link juice to the redirected page which makes it great for buying expired domains to increase your website’s SEO.
Here’s a great illustration by Moz team about 301 redirects.
The above illustration explains that serving a 301 redirect indicates to search engine bots that the page has moved permanently. Search engines interpret this to mean that not only has the page changed location, but that the content can be found at the new URL.
You can simply use a 301 redirect plugin (free WordPress plugin) to redirect all your purchased expired domains to your primary website or web page where you want to increase your link authority or backlink profile.
#2. Increase your average content length of old content
Have you ever written long form of articles with more than 3000 words? We do that a lot here at Bloggers Passion and one of the most lengthiest articles on our blog consists of over 16,000 words which is around top affiliate programs for 2018.
Most people don’t know that lengthy content works best when it comes about getting more traffic from search engines. If you’re in a competitive industry and creating 1000 word blog posts, start creating 2000+ word blog posts for a month or two and you’ll know why long form of content works great.
Yes, creating 2000 word articles seem to be a lot of work but they work like charm.
Updating your blog posts with more content is one of the best gray hat SEO techniques that you can implement to grow your organic traffic.
Long form of content has the following benefits.
- You can reach out to other bloggers to promote your content (who doesn’t like to promote an in-depth article?)
- You can attract more backlinks
- You will get more social shares for longer articles
- You’ll definitely see a growth in your search engine traffic
So how can you increase your average content length of your posts? Here are few tips that work great.
Know your why
Before you start to think about expanding your existing blog posts to increase your search traffic, make sure to know your goals. Why do you want to make it detailed? Do you want more subscribers, leads, sales? Or do you want to just get more visitors from search engines?
Knowing your goals is the first step to content marketing success. Also figure out who the content is for and what goals you’re trying to achieve once your content gets updated. That way you can easily track your results.
Topic comes first before anything
Find out the topics that are suitable for your target audience. The best way to get started is to start working on your top 10 posts that are bringing you most traffic from search engines. Go to Google analytics to find out your top posts and start working on them by increasing their average content length.
Since the top posts are already bringing you traffic, updating them with more information, keywords and images can attract even more search traffic.
Research and outlining is everything
We have been writing long form of content on this blog for a long long time now and we know one thing for sure for creating great long form of content and that is research is everything. If you are spending quality time in research you will definitely find out a lot of topics to cover within your content along with the references you can use for creating great content.
So make sure to spend a lot of time doing research for your posts before you even start writing. While researching also make sure to outline your blog posts. You can use Google Docs for outlining your content, make sure to include a lot of sub headings using H2 and H3 tags so you can easily expand your contact in such a way that you can easily create 2000+ word articles.
Web 2.0 also comes under gray hat SEO techniques because users can generate, tweak and edit the content using Web 2.0 directories, submission sites, forums etc. So let’s now talk about what is it all about and how you can use web 2.0 for SEO and building links.
What is web 2.0?
Web 1.0 (the first generation of online) used mainly static pages where users have no control over the information online. Web 2.0 (the 2nd generation) is what mostly consists of dynamic information where users can make changes to the content to make it even more better.
For example, you can edit Wikipedia pages if you find something misleading on a page where you’ve better knowledge. That comes under web 2.0 because you’ve the ability to tweak the content.
Here’s a great illustration between web 1.0 vs web 2.0 so you can easily understand the difference between both of them.
What are the benefits of Web 2.0?
Since all of the web 2.0 allows user generated content, it has the following noticeable benefits.
- Link benefits: Obviously people use web 2.0 mainly for building links. Although most of the links that you get from web 2.0 are nofollow but still they are valuable considering the fact that you need diversified links while growing your backlink profile as you can’t only build dofollow links. And there are few sites and blog directories from web 2.0 that give you potential dofollow links as well which are great for increasing your website’s SEO and rankings.
- Quality traffic: Most user generated platforms send you qualified visitors to your website which is really great for increasing your overall website conversion rates. So make sure to spend time on the platforms where most users are active (for example, platforms like Quora where you can also add links to your content).
Web 2.0 sites work better when you’re focusing on increasing your user engagement instead of solely focusing on getting traffic. So try to stay active in web 2.0 platforms such as Quora, Medium or other social networking sites instead of just promoting your posts for more traffic or SEO benefits.
#4. The usage of PBN
There’s a huge debate goes on whenever someone talks about PBN. So let’s talk about the usage of PBN to see if you can use it for effective link building and increasing your website’s SEO.
What is PBN?
PBN is the abbreviation for Private Blog Network which used to be one of the popular link building strategies. With the introduction of Google Penguin update, most of the people stopped using PBN.
Here’s a great podcast about PBN by SEO expert Neil Patel.
Is PBN a black hat SEO technique or gray hat SEO technique?
If you’re building a Private Blog Network (PBN) only using duplicate content and irrelevant backlinks, then it is surely a black hat SEO technique but if you’re creating good content which is relevant to the topics you want to rank for, then you’re doing it right and it falls under gray hat SEO technique.
So how to create and use PBN for effective SEO?
There are basically two ways of using PBN for backlinks and SEO.
- The first one is taking help from other Private Blogging Networks where you need to pay money for the links to your website. Most of them are bad and there are only very few PBN networks that offer highly relevant and useful links which increase your SEO.
- The other way is to build your own public blog network. This is really safe but it takes time and efforts from your end. If you’re after building an authority website by having access to a quality PBN, then do this method is for you.
Here are few tips if you want to build your own PBN.
- Find great expired domains with good DA and backlink profile so you can start creating single page websites which are relevant to your primary website’s content.
- Never automate your content creation process. Instead create a single page website with highly useful and relevant content.
- Make sure to use link building tactics such as broken linking method, guest posting, blogger outreach etc to start attracting more links to your PBN sites so that they will become valuable SEO assets for you in the long run.
#5. “Careful keyword stuffing”: Find the perfect keyword density
Everyone knows keyword stuffing is a BAD SEO practice. But what if we say, careful keyword stuffing is good for increasing your organic traffic and search engine rankings?
Yes, keyword stuffing is bad and you should absolutely avoid it all costs but if you are maintaining the perfect keyword density, then you can reap the best results from your keyword optimization.
For example, if you’re writing a 1000 word article, use your primary keyword at least 3 to 4 times to increase its organic rankings. Make sure to use your primary keyword in following places;
- Title tag
- Image alt tag
- H2 and h3 tags
- Beginning and ending of your content
We highly recommend you to start using a great optimization plugin like Yoast SEO which offers excellent features to easily optimize your content for your desired keywords.
So what’s the perfect keyword density anyway?
Keyword density is simply the percentage of how many times a keyword appear on a web page. A good keyword density is 1% which means the keyword you are trying to rank for appears at least once in every 100 words you write.
That means, 1% keyword density contains 10 keywords for every 1000 word article.
But if you want to be on the safer side, make sure to keep your keyword density around 0.5% which means it appears only 5 times in a 1000 word article. That way you can easily insert your primary keyword without hurting your content quality or readership.
Also we highly recommend you to find LSI keywords that are highly relevant to the primary keyword that you want to rank for. That way, without keyword stuffing, you can still get higher search rankings on Google by using a variety of highly relevant keywords.
Here’s a great video by Matt Cutts on ideal keyword density.
Pro tip: Don’t use any tool or plugin to measure your keyword density. Let your keywords naturally flow within your content if you want better search rankings without affecting your readership.
Doing excessing submission of your website links (new posts, old posts, other blog pages of your site) on social bookmarking sites falls under gray hat SEO techniques but you can stay safe by limiting your number of submissions to 1 or 2.
That means if you’re submitting your latest posts or any other posts just once across all the social bookmarking sites, it will not harm or hurt your search rankings. In fact, it gives some little boost in your search rankings as you’ll be getting decent traffic if done right.
Here are few of the major social bookmarking sites where you can safely submit your latest blog posts to get more links (although most of them are of nofollow but they still add value to your website’s SEO).
Here’s a great case study done by Search Engine Journal about the top 3 social bookmarking sites.
From the above case study, you can conclude that StumbleUpon tops the list of social bookmarking sites followed by Digg and Inbound. So make sure to at least sign up for these 3 sites and they are completely free to join.
Here are few things you need to remember while doing social bookmarking submission.
#1. Engagement matters
Social bookmarking works better when you focus on building engagement with other bloggers in your industry. Unfortunately most bloggers use social bookmarking sites only to promote their latest posts without actually spending a minute on sharing or reading others content.
How can you expect better SEO results when you only using social bookmarking sites for self-promotion? So make sure to go easy with social bookmarking sites and start engaging with other bloggers through them.
#2. Find and use highly relevant sites
There are few platforms that are used by thousands of bloggers on a daily basis where they not only promote their content but also share and promote each others content. That’s what you should look for while joining a social bookmarking site to promote your site for better SEO, traffic and exposure.
Here are few of such platforms where you can promote your site for maximum exposure.
- Inbound.org: This is primarily for those people who talks about marketing, SEO, blogging related topics. If you’re running a marketing related website, this is just for you where you will find thousands of potential bloggers to connect, engage and promote your site.
- Blog Engage: This is what we something we use almost every day for promotion and to engage with other bloggers. There are thousands of active bloggers across all the industries use and promote their content using Blog Engage.
- Biz Sugar: Another top notch social bookmarking site you can use to promote your blog for getting links, exposure and traffic to your sites. This is also used by a ton of bloggers and marketers worldwide so you can connect with them to build relationships.
#3. Use unique titles and description
One of the most common mistakes many people make while promoting their content on social bookmarking sites is that they use the same headings and meta description.
What’s the point of creating duplicate content with the same headings and meta description when you are promoting across various social bookmarking sites? It leads to duplicate content which might get your site penalized by Google sooner or later.
So make sure to create unique headings and description while promoting your content on social bookmarking sites.
#7. Link exchange
Again, most people think that link exchange comes under black hat SEO technique but it’s not. It falls under gray hat SEO technique and let us explain you a bit about it.
- Automatic link exchanging falls under black hat SEO technique while
- Exchanging links manually belongs to gray hat SEO
So what is link exchange anyway?
Exchanging links with other websites or blog is known as link exchange which is NOT a white hat SEO technique which mostly comes under gray hat SEO technique. Many people avoid it for the sake of NOT getting penalized by Google.
How to exchange links without getting penalized by Google?
If done right, you can use link exchanges to carefully build backlinks from a variety of sources. Here are few tips that you can keep in mind to safely perform link exchanges without getting penalized.
Build a small tribe
You can build a list of all the relevant blogs in your industry and then start contacting each and every blogger to promote each others content. You can also create a Facebook group where you can perform mutual blog commenting, sharing links, and linking out to each other whenever someone finds something interesting to their target audience.
You don’t need a big list of people to build a tribe as you can find 10 to 20 bloggers in your industry to form a group on Facebook then start helping each other out by sharing, linking and commenting each other’s stuff regularly.
Link out to other bloggers frequently
One of the best ways to attract links from other websites is to link out to other websites frequently from your content. Whenever you link to any other website, make sure to connect with them through social media sites or email so that they will know that you are helping them by Linking. If you are doing it frequently you can also sometimes ask them for a retweet or a link back to your content.
Here’s a great example of how you can do blogger outreach (email sample).
If they really find your content interesting and valuable, they will definitely reciprocate the same and link back to a content as well. You can also read more about how to do blogger outreach for getting links from other sites.
#8. Submit your site to web directories
There are a ton of web directories available on the internet that you can use to get high quality and relevant backlinks to your website for free.
So what is web directory submission?
Directory submission is the process of listing your website on various directories under a specified category in order to build backlinks to your site.
Although there are a ton of useless web directory submission sites which you should avoid but if you do careful research, you will find a plenty of useful web directories that you can use to increase your website’s SEO.
Here is a list of few of the best web directories where you can submit your website to attract more backlinks.
We have created a list of blog submissions sites as well which have a domain authority (DA) of over 40. So make sure to use that list to sign up for free and start promoting your latest blog posts for better SEO.
Did you know that social signals affect your website’s SEO? Yes, it’s true, just have a look at the following illustration by Search Metrics.
The above illustration shows us the importance of social signals from Facebook and Twitter which correlate very strongly with good rankings in Google’s index.
- The no of Facebook shares a page has received appears to have the strongest association (a correlation of 0.37).
- Twitter is far behind Facebook but is still the 6th strongest factor on Searchmetrics list of Google ranking factors with a correlation of 0.25.
So how can you take advantage of social signals?
You can create multiple dummy social media accounts to increase your Facebook shares, Twitter retweets, Pinterest pins etc. That’s why it falls under gray hat SEO technique.
If your content is naturally getting retweets and more social shares, it comes under white hat SEO but when you’re deliberately trying to increase your followers and social shares either by creating multiple social media accounts or buying Facebook likes, then it is a gray hat SEO technique.
Here’s how it looks like:
Image Source: Netotraffic.com
So what do you need?
All you need is to create multiple dummy accounts across all major social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, add bio and a picture to start promoting your own content.
That way you can instantly get more Facebook shares, Pinterest pins, retweets etc whenever you publish a new article on your site (you can use social media tools like Buffer, HootSuite etc to automate your social media post scheduling).
This tactic is NOT recommended if you are looking to become an expert in your industry as most people can sooner or later find out that you’re faking your social media presence.
#10. Build microsites
There are a lot of SEO experts who create and build microsites to generate backlinks to the primary websites in order to get higher rankings and traffic from search engines like Google.
Building microsites in order to generate links for a primary website comes under grey hat SEO technique and if done right it can give you a lot of search engine visibility and also quality backlinks to your primary site without cheating Google guidelines.
A microsite can be either an individual web page or a set of web pages that acts as a separate entity for a website, brand or agency. A microsite typically lives on its own domain, but some exist as a subdomain which can work as an extension to a particular brand or domain.
If you are wondering about how to build microsites too quickly boost your website rankings on good Google here are few tips that most SEO experts use.
- Before you start building microsites to get more links and traffic to your primary sites, study the successful microsites to find out how they operate and work well in search engines. Here’s a great list of microsites compiled by Hubspot.
- Don’t duplicate your content. One of the biggest mistakes most people make while building microsites is that they automate their content process either by using automated content generation plugins or using duplicate content. Don’t do it. Instead, create unique content which is relevant to your main topic of your website (so the links will be highly relevant and helps you increase your website’s SEO).
- Use proper web hosting choice to run even your microsites. We highly recommend WPX hosting as it is one of the best hosting choices that offers speed, reliability and security.
- Start small when you’re just starting out. Don’t try to build too many microsites at once. Start with 1 microsite, make the most out of it and then focus on building more microsites to boost your primary website’s SEO and traffic.
There’s another widely used gray hat SEO technique where you can get faster search rankings and let’s talk about it now.
Making small changes to your site
Making small changes to your site is what basically tricks Google search crawlers that you’re updating your site with latest and fresh information. This will definitely give your site an SEO boost because Google loves fresh and frequently updated web pages.
But it’s bit risky gray hat SEO technique because making small changes to your site too often can get your site penalized because Google might see it as suspicious activity so make sure NOT to make any frequent changes to your site.
Here are few changes you can make to get SEO boost to your website.
#1. Optimizing for click through rates
Without a doubt, click through rates play a vital role in getting higher rankings for the keywords that you want to rank for. The more people who click on your results on Google, the better you’ll rank. It’s as simple as that, so make sure to improve your meta description and title tags for top posts.
#2. Changing your footer, sidebar or navigation
Changing your website design frequently can only degrade your search engine performance but you can get a quick SEO boost if you make small and better tweaks to your navigation, menu (by adding a search bar, improving loading times etc) can work like a charm.
#3. Formatting your content in a better way
If you’re using only h3 tags within your subheadings, you can change them to h2 tags (as h2 tags weigh more in search engine results). These kind of small tweaks can definitely increase your content’s search engine visibility so you can improve your website’s SEO without adding any new content.
Final thoughts about top gray hat SEO techniques you can use to boost your website SEO
There are no specific rules about how you can rank a website on Google. Yes, there are black hat, white hat, gray hat SEO techniques that you can use to get higher rankings on Google.
But it’s always better to focus on those tactics that don’t get you penalized by Google algorithms. That’s the only way you get better rankings in the long run.
So what do you think about the gray hat SEO techniques mentioned here? Do you have any more SEO techniques, tips or tricks in mind? Share your thoughts in the comments below. `