When it comes to good business, getting ranked highly on search engines attracts both ethical and unethical SEO practices. With high levels of competition online, what are ethical SEO practices and how can they be implemented for good business results?
Ethical vs. Unethical SEO
As is the case with anything to do with business dealings, shortcuts are often opted for as a means to compete with opposition companies instead of making use of more ethical practices. As long as a “quick fix” can be implemented, there will always be room for unethical business practices. What is both ethical and unethical SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) practice exactly?
White Hat SEO
The term “white hat” is used to describe ethical SEO practice. Ethical methods are those that comply with search engine guidelines or the accepted SEO code of conduct. In essence, ethical SEO practices are those that aspire to make use of techniques that will enable a website and its web pages to gain a higher ranking level within prominent search engines (e.g.: Google, MSN and Yahoo) and increase traffic flow. These techniques modify the content of a website in such a way that matches a search engine’s ranking algorithm. The general rule of thumb concerning “white hat” practice is that if the SEO methods used by a website are obvious to a visitor, they are considered ethical. If not, there is reason to suspect a hidden agenda along with the “hidden” SEO techniques.
Black Hat SEO
“Black hat” or “spam” SEO techniques are the exact opposite. These unethical practices relate to manipulative methods that “cheat” their way to achieving higher search engine rankings. These methods are not meant to be visible to the average online website visitor and do not comply with the general SEO code of conduct. If a website is caught out for using “black hat” practices and techniques, it can be banned or black listed from search engines.
Ethical vs. Unethical SEO Practices
- Ethical SEO
- Create different links for each separate web page
- Ensure that informative and relevant content to a website
- Create inbound links (links within a website) – these links can be advertised through social media websites
- Update a website with press releases, articles and / blogs
- Exercise sufficient keyword use – this will increase a websites reliability and credibility
- Be careful not to exchange links with a website of a low quality or that contains irrelevant content – this will reduce a websites level of reliability and credibility
Avoiding Unethical SEO Practice
- In order to avoid making use of unethical SEO practices, the following should be taken into consideration:
- Hidden text – white text on a white background, using images with text behind it or using a zero font size
- Hidden or unnoticeable links – these can be made the same colour as the content text used or hidden in special characters such as a hyphen
- Automated queries – permission should be sought from search engines before automated queries can be submitted
- Cloaking – content is submitted to search engines in a way that is not apparent to a user
- Keyword stuffing – too many keywords and / or hidden text on a website is not user friendly for online website visitors
- Duplicated content – pages, domains and sub-domains should all have unique content
- Security exploitation – pages should never be created whereby a virus, Trojan or badware can be installed when the page is opened
- Link farm schemes – avoid submitting your website to another that trades links
- False doorway pages – direct website users to other sites that contains relevant content instead of a collection of links
- Affiliate programmes – avoid plagiarising others’ content and presenting it as your own or using auto – generated content with a high keyword density
It may take longer for a website using ethical SEO practices to climb the search engine ranking ladder, but the rewards are more beneficial. Ethical SEO practices may have a slower growth period, but the results are longer lasting than if a quick fix set of unethical methods are used. Ethical SEO practices provide a website with more credibility and give the results that visitors and potential customers really want. In the long run, it makes far better sense to make use of ethical SEO practices.
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