Ethical SEO vs. Unethical SEO

SEO practices are rapidly making waves in the World Wide Web. As a tool for best optimising a website, SEO has accomplished a following of businesses that use ethical and unethical practices.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Practice & Techniques
SEO is an effective brand awareness tool that enables online companies to market themselves within their own competitive business industries. SEO is all about ranking on major search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo etc). The higher a website’s ranking, the more traffic and potential business dealings can be successfully generated. SEO is also a tool companies can use to “serve their customers”, giving them exactly what they want, when they want it.

The whole idea of SEO relates to how a target audience searches for information, products and services online. Searches are broken down into keywords. Sufficiently used keywords increase rankings. If a website uses keywords and phrases that match an online user’s search breakdowns, a company has an increased chance of better targeting their audience.

Methods of creating a winning SEO formula that best achieves this can be “honest” (ethical) or “dishonest” (unethical). The main difference between the two is quite simple: one follows generally accepted techniques and the other does not. What, then, is ethical SEO and unethical SEO?

What is Ethical SEO?
Ethical SEO is often referred to as “white hat” and is generally used to describe the use of accepted search engine optimisation techniques or code of conduct. Ethical SEO techniques are generally considered as those that can are clearly visible or obvious to a website visitor. Any hidden tricks are usually indicative of a hidden agenda.

What is Unethical SEO?
In contrast, unethical SEO is often referred to as “black hat” or “spam”. Unethical SEO is not necessarily an illegal activity, but is regarded as “below the belt”. Techniques and practices are frowned upon as manipulative and sneaky. In a sense, unethical SEO is all about cutting corners and cheating the accepted code of conduct. Unethical SEO has one essential goal: to achieve immediate or short term ranking results. A great way for an online user to almost instantly recognise unethical SEO methods is to determine the number of links a website uses, as well as their quality.

Unethical SEO practices and techniques are not usually obvious to a visitor. Website companies who make use of unethical techniques in order to achieve high search engine ranking rates by “tricking” the market can be banned or black listed from all major search engines.

Ethical SEO Practices

The following SEO practices and techniques are considered ethical:

  • Different links for separate website pages can be created
  • Keywords and content that is used is information that is relevant to a website visitor
  • Inbound links (links within a website) can be created. These can be useful if advertising through a social media website.
  • Websites can be updated regularly with relevant information. These can take the form of press releases, articles and / or blogs.
  • Keeping up to date with the types of keywords a target audience is consistently using. This way, keywords within content are built to cater for a customer or client, achieving better rankings, as well as giving a website more credibility. Using keywords properly and sufficiently encourages a target audience to regard and remember a website as being reliable for the information that they seek.
  • Links are not exchanged with other websites of a low quality or containing information that is not relevant to a targeted audience.
  • Adding a sitemap to a website can be easily found by search engine spiders and helps to better index the entire site.

Unethical SEO Practices

The following SEO practices and techniques are considered unethical:

  • Text is hidden – e.g.: white text is “hidden” on a white background, text can be “hidden” behind images or a size zero font can be used.
  • Links are hidden or made to appear less obvious so to a website visitor – e.g.: links can be made into the same font colour as the main content.
  • Making use of automated queries without the permission from search engines.
  • A method of “cloaking” is used whereby content is submitted to search engines in such a way that some text is not clearly obvious or apparent to a targeted audience.
  • Too many keywords and hidden text are used on a website. This is known as keyword stuffing. Online users are generally not appreciative of this.
  • Javascript re-directs can be used whereby search engines are directed to a web page that is different from the one that is expected.
  • Using duplicated content.
  • Exploiting security whereby viruses or badware can be installed the moment a website or page is opened by a user.
  • Trading links – many websites have a habit of trading links. This can be very misleading and disruptive to an online user.
  • Creating false doorway passages to direct users to other websites that may contain irrelevant content or a collection of more links.
  • Plagiarising or using auto-generated content with a high keyword density

In Conclusion
The internet market place is rife with competition. Every possibly business industry that you can think of is virtually competing online. Marketing tools are an essential means of the success that can or cannot be achieved. SEO is one such practice that can be used to better market a website, as well as its products and services by means of clever brand awareness. In practice, using SEO techniques can be done “honestly” or not as either ethical or unethical.

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