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Old 02-17-2005   #1
projectphp
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Ethical Search Engine optimisation Explained

By Alan Perkins: http://www.silverdisc.co.uk/articles/ethical-seo/

Following Andrew Goodman's excellent SearchDay article Search Engine Showdown: Black Hats vs. White Hats at SES http://searchenginewatch.com/searchd...le.php/3483941, it may be worth reading it in teh context of Alan's latest article.

In fact, a lot of Andrew's comments on philosphy seem quite a good fit with Alan's article, in which Alan tries to reason, based upon the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University's A Framework For Ethical Decision Making, what "...the most ethical SEO technique" would look like.

Interesting and timely stuff.

Last edited by projectphp : 02-17-2005 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 02-18-2005   #2
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that white hat black hat stuff is soooo 2003
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Old 02-18-2005   #3
Jill Whalen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferret77
that white hat black hat stuff is soooo 2003
I think the WH/BH stuff is actually so 2004, but since Alan's article isn't about WH/BH the point is kinda moot.

Roles and responsibilities of SEOs, SEs and Searchers can never go out of style.
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Old 02-18-2005   #4
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I kind of thought when the florida update wiped out tons of "white hat" sites that sort of put a damper on the whole idealism

with like a million people trying to cash in on the "ethical" label to sell their SEO services does it really have any meaning
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Old 02-18-2005   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferret77
with like a million people trying to cash in on the "ethical" label to sell their SEO services does it really have any meaning
It (Ethical SEO) in this context never really did have any meaning. The so called "ethical SEO" movement started when a few people that were/are lacking in technology knowledge tried to make up for that lack of knowledge by calling everything they did not understand as "SPAM".

Just for the record, I will repeat what I wrote way back in 2002 at that helpless forum,

Quote:
"Just what does an SEO do - an SEO gets top placement in search engines for web pages - that's what we do. Does it matter how we do it - NO. As long as the client is fully informed of ALL methods available their upsides and their downsides - then the client should make the decision, not the SEO.

IMO an "unethical SEO" is one that refuses to tell there clients that there are ways to get that #1 spot for that single keyword that returns 2million+ results and 25,000 searches a day. This "unethical SEO" would say something like "Oh that's not realistic - lets target this combination of 3 keywords that returns 20,000 results and gets 50 searches a day, I the ethical SEO will get you a #1 spot for this 3 word phrase."

So who is this so called "ethical SEO" working for anyway, the search engine or the client?

If your taking money from the client you should be working for them - and to hell with what the SE's want or don't want."
After three years I still stand behind this statement.

Last edited by lots0 : 02-18-2005 at 11:52 AM. Reason: I was a bad boy
 
Old 02-18-2005   #6
Jill Whalen
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Lotso, just curious. What part of Alan's article do you disagree with? (Assuming you read it.)

What you're talking about has nothing to do with what he wrote, as far as I can tell.
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Old 02-18-2005   #7
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jill the title of the thread is "ethical search enigne optimization"

2 of the 3 links in the first post having to do with your dog and pony show involving black and white hats

so I hardly think we are straying off topic

I took this gem from the perkins article

*The other reason I believe that the SEO industry is sleepwalking towards disaster is that many of the techniques it uses, in addition to being unethical, are illegal. My next article, Search Engine Optimization and The Law, will examine this in more detail.*

Could you please tell me the illegal seo techniques?

Or that just an out right fabrication,

I wasn't aware of any legal ramifications of any seo techiques. But I am sure there are people on this board with much more experience then me . Maybe they can fill me in

It seems like a scare tactic

Is fear based marketing considered "ethical"
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Old 02-18-2005   #8
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Lotso, just curious. What part of Alan's article do you disagree with?
jill, what I wrote was in answer to this question in Allan's article.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan P
A range of strategies and tactics are available in order to perform search engine optimization. Which are ethical and which are unethical?
From what I have seen Allan is a smart guy on most subjects, but when it comes to ethical SEO, in my opinion he has a set of blinders on and he always has had.

I thought what I wrote has a rather obvious meaning.
I do not believe that there is such a thing as ethical SEO just like I believe there is no such thing as unethical SEO.

There is such a thing as Business Ethics no matter what business you are in and one of the basis of business ethics is that you work for the benefit of person or company that pays you, not some other business that you and your employer interact with.

The bottom line in what Allan contends is that as an SEO you should place your loyalty with the SE’s and work toward the SE’s goals and not your client’s.

If the SEO’s clients best interest conflicts with the search engines best interest, according to what Allan has been preaching for years, the SEO should always support what the SE’s wants (their guidelines) and put the clients interest and goals aside. Allan justifies this position of his by hinting that siding with the SE’s is contributing toward a greater good.... I don’t buy this for a second.

SEO is a business, just like any other service or consulting business and the ethics or lack of them should be treated just like any other business. In my opinion, SEO does not need (or deserve) to have its own set of ethics. Just like the Search Engines do not need or deserve their own set of ethics.
 
Old 02-18-2005   #9
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Quote:
Could you please tell me the illeagal seo techniques?
I would, but I don't know what they are. We'll have to wait for Alan's next article for the answer, I guess!

Let's take specific parts from Alan's article and figure out where we disagree on this matter. I'll bet when looked at it carefully, we really don't differ much at all.

Regaring Alan's statement here:

Quote:
the most ethical SEO technique is the one that

* produces the most good and does the least harm
* respects the rights and dignity of all stakeholders and treats all stakeholders fairly
* promotes the common good
* helps all participate more fully in the goods we share as a community and a society
* enables the deepening or development of those virtues or character traits that we value as individuals, professions and members of a society
Is there anything that you (anyone reading this) specifically disagree with?
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Old 02-18-2005   #10
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I could say I agree with those things but with my own definition

well since I am an american capitalist and pretty much all my business dealing involve in furthering my personal profit, so does almost all others for the most part

so

* produces the most good and does the least harm

I agree I want to do what produces the most for me, and does me the least harm

* respects the rights and dignity of all stakeholders and treats all stakeholders fairly

I don't really care about multi billion dollar search engine companys, In fact I would say they arn't even stake holders ( in my stake)

I am pretty sure as an individual they feel exactly the same as me

which is fine its a business relationsip, we don't have to be best buddies

* promotes the common good

common good being my good , because lets face it in the business world no one really is looking out for you .... except you

* helps all participate more fully in the goods we share as a community and a society

Yes good seo helps me pay my bills and pay taxes etc,

* enables the deepening or development of those virtues or character traits that we value as individuals, professions and members of a society

I'm not really sure what values SEO deepens , or what virutes it enhances

so I would say this is something I don't understand

In fact I would say it sound like some unamerican hippy commie stuff

lets get back the blantant um how shall I say lies in the article

Do you think old alan is going to come up with some penal codes next article?

Lets talk about "white hat" labels being more of marketing technique then anything else.

Do you think people are starting to beat that pitch to death? Does it still help sell seo services as much as it used to?

I mean it seems less prevalent then it was last year, but maybe that because I don't hang out in the right spots.
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Old 02-18-2005   #11
Jill Whalen
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Thanks for taking the time to comment specifically on those things in the article, Ferret. It certainly provides many insights into your mode of thinking, and your general character overall. Very informative!

Quote:
lets get back the blantant um how shall I say lies in the article
Absolutely! Could you point out the lies to me and the other good forum members, so that we're all on the same page here?

Quote:
Lets talk about "white hat" labels being more of marketing technique then anything else.
Umm...except that I know very few "white hats" who actually ever use that term or the "ethical" term in their marketing materials, etc. I'm sure there are some, but most of the people I know who I would consider to fall into that side of the issue, never use those phrases, including Alan, and me, and just about anyone else I can think of.

Quote:
Do you think people are starting to beat that pitch to death? Does it still help sell seo services as much as it used to?
Again, who's using it to sell their SEO? It seems to me it was more the people on the BH end of the spectrum that even brought up the whole "hat" terminology to begin with, although I'm really not sure of its exact origins.
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Old 02-18-2005   #12
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excuse me single lie or false hood

I thought I already pointed it out but here I will do it again for you

*addition to being unethical, are illegal*

I'm pretty sure this is false , whether intentional or not

Do you agree?

Or do think there are laws against certain SEO practices?

* your general character overall.*

My general character is the character of most business owners who are just trying to make a living.

Do you think that one form of optimization is actually improving the world.

Are you guys going to optimize away world hunger?

I have seen some optimizers optimizing non-profits which is great, that seems like real ethical seo.

But I haven't seen too much of that.
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Old 02-18-2005   #13
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Quote:
*addition to being unethical, are illegal*

I'm pretty sure this is false , whether intentional or not

Do you agree?
I will have to hear Alan's reasoning and logic behind the statement before deciding if I agree. Obviously, he's not just saying that without anything to back it up, since he stated that his next article will be on that very topic. I have not heard his reasoning yet, however, so I can't really answer the question at this time.

I have mentioned to Alan over at my forum that he may want to take a look over here as he can certainly provide you with much more insight about his article than I could. (I originally told him the article was too difficult to read in general, so it's amusing to me that I'm defending it now!)
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Old 02-18-2005   #14
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I guess we agree on that

I think it very wordy, vague and unreadable
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Old 02-18-2005   #15
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Quote:
Umm...except that I know very few "white hats" who actually ever use that term or the "ethical" term in their marketing materials, etc. I'm sure there are some, but most of the people I know who I would consider to fall into that side of the issue, never use those phrases, including Alan, and me, and just about anyone else I can think of.
Correct Jill.

I've never thought the terms Black Hat or White Hat were particularly helpful.

"Ethical SEO" has a meaning and the article describes that meaning. It's not the meaning that SEOs who describe themselves or other SEOs as ethical mean, since the term refers to techniques, not people. You're right that very few SEOs who practise ethical SEO would use that term to describe their practises since it is so abused.

However, the industry is in danger of destroying itself and part of it comes from describing patently unethical practises as ethical because it results in profit for the SEO or the client. Profit is a good thing but it's not a measure of ethics, especially when measured in the short term.
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Old 02-18-2005   #16
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What seo illegal ?

why does seo have to have seperate set of ethics?

Then every other business?

How does one "type" of seo help make the world a better place then another?

*Again, who's using it to sell their SEO? *

You have to be kidding, there must be hundreds of people touting their more "ethical" seo services. For most of them its there only sales pitch.

http://www.google.com/search?num=100...&btnG=Se arch

actually msn shows it way better

http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q...22&FORM=QBR E

So have guys thought about banding togather to optimize some feed the children sites, for free of course, its for the greater good

Last edited by ferret77 : 02-18-2005 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 02-18-2005   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan
...since the term refers to techniques, not people.
Allan, I don't believe that a technique or method can be either ethical or unethical.

A technique or method is just a tool, only the “intent” of the user of the tool can be ethical or unethical.

If your assumption is that a tool is either ethical or unethical... as Mr. Spock would say, "that is not logical".

jill, some people may not use the term “ethical SEO” when marketing, but between you and me, there has been a few folks that have made a career based on the assumption that they were “ethical” SEO’s.
 
Old 02-18-2005   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lots0

I don't believe that a technique or method can be either ethical or unethical.
Sure it can. Just look at the field of medicine for lots of examples.

Quote:
A technique or method is just a tool, only the “intent” of the user of the tool can be ethical or unethical.
A technique is not a tool, it's a technique. An ethical technique is one that results in the most good or least harm for all of the defined stakeholders.

Quote:
If your assumption is that a tool is either ethical or unethical... as Mr. Spock would say, "that is not logical".
That's a straw man argument, arising from your definition of "technique" as "tool".
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Old 02-18-2005   #19
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jill, some people may not use the term “ethical SEO” when marketing, but between you and me, there has been a few folks that have made a career based on the assumption that they were “ethical” SEO’s.
Hey, here's a thought...ever think that maybe, just maybe, they actually are?

What kills me about these ethical arguments is so many people who seem to think that business and ethics don't mix. That is just plain sad, imo. Would you really want to do business with someone who felt that way? What makes you think that others would want to do business with you? And I'm definitely not directing this at anyone in particular. Only those who feel that ethics and business don't mix. If you don't fit into that camp, I'm not talking about you, so don't get mad at me! I'm also not insinuating that anyone who's already posted in this thread thinks that way.
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Old 02-18-2005   #20
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What seo illegal ?

why does seo have to have seperate set of ethics?

Then every other business?
My turn

I can answer all three for you: SEO exists within a well established branch of law. All the "Is a ranking advertising" stuff some people ask neglects the fact that all websites for businesses are ads. Great, big, multi-pagers, in which 100% of the content therein is under th businesses control.

There are laws, pre-existing, that cover what you can and can't do with advertising. SEO is no different form "every other business", yet if you read / hear debates on this toipic, the context of "ethics" and right or wrong is confined to three parties: SEOs, Search Engines and searchers.

Where do existing laws fit? Do we even know what they are?

There exists a landscape, both legally and ethically, within which SEO fits. These same rules apply to other advertising mediums, and SEO is no different.
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