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Disappointed? Yeah. Threw me into my low-mid-life crisis. We should have held a memorial for baseball as we knew it.

I remember the years when baseball was a man’s sport, not a cheaters sport. I loved it. I couldn’t miss a Mariner’s game rain or shine…more rain than shine, but the King Dome ruled. I was there to watch Griffey’s rookie season, the Jr. and Sr. tandem, his first Grand Slam and A-Rod’s inaugural homerun. Jay Buhner, Pete O’Brien, Dave Valle, Harold Reynolds, Tino Martinez, Omar Vizquel, The Big Unit…all ancient memories now. We’re talking stone-age ancient, or so it seems.

When the recent news came out about Alex Rodriguez, I was broken for a day. Extremely disappointed. Literally every last one of my hopes for baseball’s future was finally strung out to fade in the sun on an unreachable limb of shame.

How does baseball bounce back from having its icon player completely, publicly wamboozled? Who knows. Alas, we’re not here to talk about the MLB and roids. Thankfully.

Something Profound Amidst the Muck

And what else is there to do than apply the A-Fraud stuff to SEO? Yup, we can apply what A-Rod is going through to SEO. It’s brilliant, check it out.

A-Fraud broke the cardinal rule of SEO, and, well, of life too. Though steroids weren’t in the day to day conversation back then, he marginalized his personal brand integrity and partook of ‘grey area’ stuff when the consequences of taking it weren’t even considered. Steroids was part of the ‘loosey goosey’ era in baseball where players, coaches and trainers just looked the other way and let it happen (I would have considered it flat out cheating, but, to be fair, it actually was a grey area back then. It baffles me as to why but that’s just how it was).

Every day at SEO.com we come across webmasters that have doomed their business to SEO failure. They’re doing the exact same thing that A-Rod did, but to their businesses. They marginalize their site’s integrity by partaking in grey area, loosey-goosey stuff without concern for future consequences. They pump the juice to get some cool short term results without a thought for future ailments that may come of it. Bad idea. Very bad idea.

When you have an all-seeing and omniscient powerhouse like Google looming over you, as a webmaster, you can’t hide under ‘ignorance’ like A-Rod did for so many years. Google doesn’t care who you are. They know everyone and are everywhere, watching you. Kinda creepy. More creepy knowing they control your web business, at least the free traffic part of it. So you HAVE to make them happy. You have no choice. They are no respecter of persons [or websites]. They will find you and they will dump your site as if it didn’t even exist. And search engine placement resurrection is a difficult, lengthy process.

Avoid Grey-ness Like You Would Steroids

Using A-Rod as an example of what happens when you go the grey hat route, you get hammered when the sun exposes the true colors or when the market/boss changes expectations. In other words, once Google finds out or changes policies (and they will) you get hammered. Once the U.S. found out about her golden boy baller’s ugly, old, stale grey stuff, golden boy got hammered. Wouldn’t A-Rod have been better to steer clear of anything that could be considered cheating? Duh. Your business is no different.

For your main site, things that are considered ‘grey hat’ should be avoided completely. It’s not worth the long term repercussions. It just isn’t. Build your site right the first time. Keep as far from the ledge as possible and you’ll be loved by Google and you’ll find a place in your niche’s Google hall of fame. Good luck A-Rod.

For long term sustainability, steady and white hat will win the race. Don’t go for the ‘quick’ score.

What is Grey Hat?

Here’s the legit definition so bookmark this page or tweet it to your friends because this is good:

Grey hat SEO is the employment of techniques that are not technically against Google’s policies but that don’t provide value and are done solely for SEO purposes without regard for user experience.

Here’s the kicker. Pay attention. Grey hat today can literally become black hat tomorrow.

I’ve seen grey turn to black too many times. Here’s an example: Remember when blog commenting was the craze about 18 months ago? Everyone came out with their own software to almost automate blog spamming because it was cool. An immediate billion anchor text links!

All of a sudden, Google laid the smack down and it hurt. Blog spamming will kill you now. That’s not to say you can’t comment on a blog and point to your site, but you have to actually make a real comment and join the conversation.

***Don’t risk sandboxing your brand for the latest SEO craze. Be real all the time***

What Are Grey Hat Techniques?

Before we lay out the common grey hat mojo, know that there are literally unlimited grey hat areas. When building SEO focus on adding value and user experience and you will win, always. Period. Limit the things that you do that are ONLY for SEO purposes. Remember, grey hat today can be black hat tomorrow morning so pick your battles wisely. Don’t blow it like A-Rod did.

These are a few grey-hat tactics that could be just as bad for your site in the long run as steroids were to A-Rod:

• Stuffing keywords in alt tags, link titles and image titles.
• Linking to sites that have nothing to do with your niche or industry.
• Obtaining inbound links that have nothing to do with your niche or industry.
• Purchasing links under the guise of ‘advertising’ or ‘traffic purposes’ when they are really for SEO.
• Social media spam.
• Blog comment spamming is now black hat.

Have you committed the grey hat A-Rod steroid sin? Repent. Do you have anything to add to the grey hat areas that we’ve gone over?