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Competitors Rank Well in SERP's

Ethical vs. non Ethical SEO



1:24 pm on Aug 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am a webmaster in a business to business market myself, and I try to do some ethical search engine optimisation. However, I am bothered by the fact that in the same niche as where I operate, there is someone
spamming the results by using "not so ethical" methods of SEO.

They have added pages purely for the search engines
It comes up for the term "[snip]" number one spot. However, the page listed in the SERP is stuffed with keywords, and has no content whatsoever. It even reloads another page, without showing the content.

How come Google allows such methods? It makes me very angry that "non-ethical SEO" is still preferred by the Google engine over "ethical methods of SEO". It even makes me wanna consider using methods like these for myself.

By the way, this very same post was sent (including URL's) to Google. Do you think they will take the time to investigate?

[edited by: pageoneresults at 2:00 pm (utc) on Aug. 20, 2004]
[edit reason] Removed Specifics [/edit]


1:32 pm on Aug 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

"non-ethical SEO"

Matter of opinion. There is certainly SEO that falls within google "guidelines" and SEO that does not follow Google's guidelines. (And honestly, the second any of us tweaks a site solely to improve its rankings, we move outside the "guidelines" technically, but I digress.) There is also SEO that breaks the rules blatantly. But the whole question of "ethics" in SEO is, in my opinion, in the eye of the beholder.

Doing SEO outside the guidelines for a client that doesn't understand the risks without explaining to them the risks your taking - that I would probably consider unethical.

But, taking those risks with your own site when you fully understand them - well, I wouldn't call the "unethical" SEO. I would call that risky SEO.


1:49 pm on Aug 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If you're an SEO agency then it's unethical to use SEO techniques which could have your clients banned from a search engine.

If you're SEO'ing yourself then ethics is an eye of the beholder issue.

If your competitors are spamming - report them. This is the biggest selling point for ethical SEO I feel. Search google for the spamreport page. Use it. If your comps /need/ an spammy tactic to succeed then they're in big trouble when Google or Yahoo (or MSN) adapts. A big perk of ethical/good practise SEO is that you don't need to run around and stay ahead of the bots.


2:33 pm on Aug 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

let's have a sense of decency. it's unethical seo-ing if you are creating pages for search engines, not for users. it's called spam.


2:58 pm on Aug 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's an eye on the beholder issue on the grey areas.

Should you have a <noframe> area which only informs users that they need to have a frame enabled browser to view the site? Or do you have h1 headed, bold tag enriched, and hyperlinked copy about the site?


6:41 pm on Aug 20, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Even beyond the eye of the beholder issue, the darker the grey you're working in, the riskier it gets. If you stay in the light grey, ou don't have to worry about getting caught and can keep working on making your site good for your visitors. The darker the grey youo're in, te more work you need to put into not getting caught and altering your techniques when Google starts banning stuff they never used to.

It's a question of what will let you sleep comfortably at night. Some people could care less if they get banned so long as they're making money now. For others, a ban is the end of the world, hence the varying shades of grey :)


1:47 am on Aug 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think it becomes 'unethical' when the users don't get what they are looking for.

If you figure out a way to rank for "red widgets" so you can drive traffic to your site about "green widgets" then I consider that spam. It's essentially false advertising.

If your competitor is ranked well for keywords related to his or her business, I would never call that unethical.

Aside from that, you have two choices you can make. If you want quick results and intend to 'play the SEO game' then by all means do whatever it takes to beat your competitor.

However, if you want to build long term business, stick to the basics (content, links, etc.) and as search engines get better algorithms you'll only improve.


4:56 am on Aug 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Make sure you report the spam to google.

It is a constant battle, you have to be philosophical.


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