If you’re unfamiliar with SEO, you might not have heard of the term “Black Hat” or “White Hat.” Black Hats are usually considered to be those who use techniques that are frowned upon by companies like Google, to game the system for their benefits. White Hats stick with the general SEO best practices that Google and others have declared as safe. A few years back, you would see black hat websites using many tricks: hidden text i.e. black text on a black background; serving websites to Google spiders that were different than what the general public saw, etc. Most of these techniques no longer work, but Black Hats are constantly inventing new techniques that work for a little while but eventually disappear. White Hats, on the other hand, stick with the industry best practices and try to avoid using short-term techniques. One of the Black Hat techniques that can be used in a White Hat acceptable way is buying expiring domains.
Millions of people create new websites every day, and over time some lose interest in continuing their development. During the time of their being active, many attract a bounty of inbound links from other websites that are so valuable for SEO. For years, Black Hats have bought these domains and used simple 301 redirects to transfer most of the ‘link juice’ (link juice is a term coined by Greg Boser that refers to the quality of a Web site’s link power, as in page rank, number of link votes, etc.) to other sites within their network of sites. This was an easy way to get hundreds and thousands of links without all the hard work usually required.
Using a 301 redirect to tell the search engines to go to another site isn’t Black Hat all by itself. There are many legitimate reasons you would use a 301 redirect on a domain name. If a company rebrands themselves with a new name or buys a competitor, they might do a 301 redirect to let everyone know of the changes. This is a totally acceptable tactic. Google takes issue with this technique when you do it purely to game the system. So, if you buy hundreds of random domains with inbound links and just do a mass 301 redirect to one site, Google will have an issue with this. They would consider this approach as being industry best practices and might penalize your website.
White hats can use this technique but should approach it differently. Rather than just buying random domains, they should look for domains that are highly relevant to your niche.
Next, rather than doing a simple 301 redirect, consider buying out the site to provide value to people. You could build out a simple microsite on a specific relevant subject or create something more involved. Over time, add a few links to your other websites from your new microsite, to give some of the link juice to your other sites. With a little hard work and dedication you can provide value to your visitors while improving your SEO. White Hats take the long term approach in live and seek (Ed Note: ‘live and seek’ requires explantation) to create sustainable businesses.
Technical Tip 1: Even if you are trying to do everything right, sometimes Google just has a mind of its own. To avoid any issues when using this technique, thing about hosting these sites on a completely different hosting provider or server than your main site. You can also use a privacy guard on your newly purchased domain to keep it more isolated.
Technical Tip 2: For a full explanation of what a 301 redirect is, visit Wikipedia.