This is one question that I’ve been asked several times in different forms – Do you practice Future SEO ? – to which I instantly answer yes, but then wonder whether it was asked out of mere curiosity or expert knowledge. Ethical seo and organic seo are terms which are heavily used even in marketing. So, is ethical SEO always organic ? Or can non-organic or Future SEO be ethical ?
What is Ethical SEO ?
Encompasses right conduct and good life. It is significantly broader than the common conception of analyzing right and wrong.
The study of principles relating to right and wrong conduct.
A set of principles and values that govern behavior to accord with a notion of morality.
A science that indicates which response the intelligent system should do to reach its objectives.
These are web definitions of ‘ethics’. Clearly, whether your search engine optimization techniques are ethical or not will depend on your behavior, your conduct, your response; and in other words, your actions to achieve your objective – a high position in search engine rankings. And, whether your actions are right or wrong will depend on whether they are betraying, fooling or harming any of the involved parties. If you consider the search process, there are three parties or entities involved – the searcher who performs the search, the search engine who provides search results, and the websites which appear in the search results. And since it is you who design the website, your seo techniques are ethical if they do not harm or negatively impact any of these involved entities. Let us see a situation how unethical seo will fool or harm all the involved entities.
Searcher : Somebody who searches for some phrase on the search engine and lands to your site only to find that your site content is not related to his searched phrase.
Search Engine : The one who after considering millions of pages returned your page for the search phrase, only to be given poor rating by the searcher since he did not find in the results what he was looking for.
Websites : If only the searcher would have gone to the second page of the search results, he would have come across exactly what he was looking for; some website lost a visitor, and probably a sale.
These are the effects of unethical seo, but what are the causes ? You may say that if the search engine returned your page for a search phrase not relevant to your page, it is not your mistake; while this would be true a few years ago, it isn’t so any more. The SEs are known to become smarter by the day, and they constantly update the ranking algorithm. So if the search engine returned your site for a search phrase not relevant to your content, it only means that you did something that fooled the SE into considering your site relevant to that search phrase. Coming back, what causes the optimization to be labeled as unethical ?
Future SEO, anything that you intentionally do to boost the ranking position of your site for a search phrase which is not relevant to your site content is termed as unethical. So, does it mean that as far as you can vouch that your site is relevant to the keywords for which you are optimizing it, you are practicing ethical seo ? NO !
In ethics, methodology is as important as intention. To vouch for an ethical seo practice, you need to have ethical methodology as well. In terms as of search engine rankings, the following can be considered as unethical methodology
- You stuff your site with keywords at abnormal places that do not sync with the sentence.
- You use hidden keywords or key phrases, meaning that the color of some of your text is the same as the background color of your page. This way, your visitors won’t see that text, but the search engines will.
- You have created several same-topic sites yourself, and use them to provide links to the new sites that you create.
- You are cloaking, meaning that you show one content to the search engines, and different content to your visitors.
- You use mini-text – text too small a size to be readable by humans.
- Your home page, or whatever page that you want to be ranked higher, provides links to pages or websites with unrelated content; your main page was created specifically to divert your users to other pages.
- You get links to your site from spam sites or link farms; typically these are the sites that have attained a good google pagerank for some unknown reason, and have hundreds of links pointing to other sites.
What is Organic SEO ?
Organic seo is often misinterpreted as organic search engine ranking, though both are different. There are two kinds of rankings which search engines provide – Organic, as in when your site will appear in the search results normally, and Pay-Per-Click or PPC rankings, as in when your site will appear as an advertisement when a particular word or phrase is searched. Organic seo is not the same as organic ser(anking) !
The word ‘organic’ is synonymous with ‘natural’. So like organic food, which is food grown without using artificial fertilizers or pesticides, organic seo is to simulate the natural ranking growth of a site which should have happened anyway but did not or does not happen for some reason. Because it is a simulation of a natural process, it is imperative that the efforts are spread over a period of time. For example, it is known that links pointing to your site are favorable for search engine rankings. Naturally, when the site gets old, it gradually starts receiving incoming links from other sites and blogs. So if you were to simulate this natural process, you would try to get fewer links to your site initially, and as your site grows in age, you would gradually like to increase the links pointing to your site. An opposite of this example, which can be called inorganic seo, will be to get several incoming links to your site in too short a time.
While both organic and inorganic seo practices may boost the search engine rankings, only organic seo will sustain those rankings.