I'm not an SEO that reports "spammers", however you want to define spam, and I'm not an SEO that subscribes to the "if you can't beat them join them" mentality. Or at least I wasn't. I am an SEO that tells my clients to read WebmasterWorld and I also send them to the Google SEO Guide page.
Recently however, being upfront about how SEO works has caused some friction between myself and a few of my clients. Anyone that spends any amount of time at WebmasterWorld knows that GoogleGuy encourages people to send spam reports, typically with added advice about mentioning WebmasterWorld and a WebmasterWorld screenname. Recently, some of my clients have been pressuring me to send in some spam reports but that's just the beginning of the issue.
After much badgering from a client I did send in a report. To date no action has been taken, no response received and my client is sending me email every other day wondering why nothing is happening. It's not that he doesn't believe me when I respond that this takes time, it's that the link farm, hidden links, tiny text, etc, were so obvious that he's a bit sceptical that Google has any procedures in place to deal with blatant violations of their stated TOS.
I informed him from the start that we could overcome most of the domain farm, link farm, hidden text tactics and in truth, we have, but the cost of overcoming what is a clear violation of Google's own TOS has been passed to him. While we have several #1 positions and hundreds of 1-5 spots the core phrases are controlled by a network of sites that violate Google's TOS.
Now to the crux of the problem. He wants to emulate the tactics of the folks that are currently enjoying success using what Google deems to be inappropriate methods if you will. We could fire up another domain or 200 and use exactly the same tactics they use, with what appears to be minimal risk.
My responsibility is to my client. His take is that Google's advice to, "play by the rules Grasshopper and everything will be fine" is BS. He's right. As long as techniques that violate Google's TOS work all the lip service about reporting spam is exactly that, lip service.
I've already mentioned "long term viability" but that argument is a bit shallow, this particular network has been in place for more than a year and quite possibly much longer.
The issue goes quite a bit deeper than just one client. As long as SEOs have to work around beating those people that employ techniques that violate Google's TOS the cost of optimizing those sites that play by the rules will be higher. In essence, Google rewards sites that violate the rules and inadvertently punishes those sites that strive to follow them.
The issue runs deeper than one SEO and his clientele, every SEO out there knows that it costs more to beat a network of domain farms that it does to optimize for phrases that don't face that opposition. Are your clients paying more because Google can't seem to weed out the folks that won't play by the rules?