The temptation to take the “quick and easy” route is everywhere, and SEO is no different. Contributor Stephan Spencer shows how going black- or gray-hat might sound good initially, but in the end, like Icarus, you may get burned
What kind of risk are you willing to take for better rankings and more organic traffic?
For many years now, there has been an ongoing debate in the search engine optimization (SEO) world about whether “black-hat” or “gray-hat” tactics — that is, techniques that attempt to achieve quicker results by flouting the search engines’ guidelines — are acceptable.
While many commentators take a moralistic tone around this issue, I prefer to look at it in terms of risk. If you are willing to risk a Google penalty for the possible payoff of quicker or better rankings, then go for it! Just don’t be surprised when Google gets wise to what you’re doing and your traffic takes a nose dive! Doesn’t matter if it’s months or years later; expect to pay the piper.
Personally, as someone who works with a lot of large corporations with much at stake, I steer well clear of black-hat and gray-hat techniques.
For anyone working on a domain they don’t want to go down in flames, there’s simply no way to justify gambling with a site’s authority and reputation in such a reckless manner. In the SEO world, there are plenty of people willing to take the risk. Many SEOs I know make the point that what is considered gray-hat and black-hat may be subjective, depending on the industry you are operating in.