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The SEO ethics of the BBC

12:17 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

If only Google had the ehics of the BBC...

...I wish

"so when BBC staff choose keywords, we need to be as honest as possible. This is so that we don’t inadvertently outperform other content on the web which may be more deserving of that top spot in Google. (This is almost “reverse SEO” if you like!)"

SEO BBC Style [bbc.co.uk]

Hands up if you've ever been so immacutely honest with your SEO as this!
3:25 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Why would any site want to rank for a keyword that wasn't really relevant for the content anyway? That kind of traffic has almost no value unless you are getting paid for ad impressions. And even then, ad impressions that don't send clicks have no value for the advertiser so that also becomes problematic pretty fast.

I often try to eliminate poorly targeted traffic, and I don't do it for ethical reasons. I do it purely aout of self-interest. I think this comment from the BBC is a bit of spin. Nicely done spin, however - but it's still spin.
3:46 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

First of all if you don't see many hands raised (including mine) don't interpret it as not sharing in the same values as BBC. I would guess that most members here have websites that would be classified as the ones that the BBC are consciously wanting to digress towards.

The BBC is an aggregation and dissemination company. As such, much of their content is not from the minds of their own employees. But yes some is, such as this article and so I'm quite sure Webmaster World's reference to the article will digress to it in SERP due to the outbound link. It's good to see that at least some of their staff, such as the author of this article, realizes that and tries their best to act accordingly.

In a few instances where I know I was inspired to express an opinion about something (beyond Webmaster World) based on having read an interesting article elsewhere I will usually indicate my source of inspiration as well a link to it. The link itself is usually a strong enough indicator for search engines to keep them above me in SERPs.

By the way everything this fellow is referring to is actually website optimization (WSO) -- not search engine optimization (SEO). Unfortunately the term SEO has become so deeply ingrained in the industry minds that the misnomer is applied extensively. SEO is what one does offsite and WSO is what one does onsite. I'm going to begin injecting that point from time to time in posts when it's in context. Maybe we can slowly bring awareness to the two distinct though closely related terms.
5:44 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Why would any site want to rank for a keyword that wasn't really relevant for the content anyway? That kind of traffic has almost no value unless you are getting paid for ad impressions.

In my post above I mentioned being inspired to write about something due to gaining insight from another source. In so doing, the primary and secondary supporting keywords of the topic will likely become common ground that may be able to influence SERPs for my perspective.

That in turn might nudge me up close to the authoritative source in SERP. And this is where the VALUE comes in. By having a supporting point of view that mostly agrees with the original source, but that may also build on the perspective in ways not mentioned in the original, we are backing-up what is being presented. That can help build trust. This becomes especially powerful when a topic can transcend cultural conditioning (as leosghost would say) to the point where a topic can reach accord irrelevant to our place on the planet. When we find precious ideologies that tumble into those funnels we can be certain we have found something that is more in tune with our intrinsic understanding of our outer world. Hopefully that will lead us closer to unity rather than deeper division. So, I would say that type of traffic has tremendous value over and above financial compensation.

To try to explain what I've said above consider this. The key for me is that I may be digging into a perspective that is foreign to my Canadian French/English cultural perspective but no less important. When I recognize the value of the author's knowledge I reach a realization that this knowledge needs to be presented to readers of my cultural environment in a manner that won't offend them but warm them up to the possibilities. Due to it being a foreign source the topic is sometimes steeped with keywords for which there is no French or English equivalent. It then becomes my effort to find the theory that it most closely resembles (not make up my own) in my culture and build a bridge of understanding between the two sources to reinforce it as a source of something worth understanding. In this case I would definitely want to rank for the keywords of the original source but then build my own new set of keywords that will explain it to the people of my culture. A primary reason for this is because a person of my culture might have overheard an interesting conversation (framed around foreign keywords even though spoken in English or French) while out in public and decide to research it. But if they are only getting results from a foreign perspective (using the foreign keywords) they might become discouraged in trying to further understand it and therefore dismiss it. Whereas if they can find a source closer to home that has been "ideologically translated" (even though the original may be in English but catering to the "in the know crowd") they might say ah hah, I'm not the only one over here who recognizes some value here.

Anyway I just hit a wall here. I don't know if my points are going to be understood in their proper context. This response was very difficult for me to translate from my pattern way of thinking, into verbal expression, and finally into proper English and convey it to my fingers. I've been mulling this over for close to 2 hours. All my neurons are now firing together and I'm losing my focus, there's smoke coming out of my forehead, so I have to get out for a bicycle ride to cool down!

I guess tedster's view is from a more commercial perspective -- nothing wrong with that because that's his bread and butter and/or his preferred focus. As I often like to do I'll give a counter view, not to be confrontational, but for the sake of provoking debate which often helps us whittle down a topic until we collectively exhaust it. That is usually the point where we've reach a consensus that we have the OP in proper perspective -- though not necessarily resolved, if there is even a resolution. Many times there is no such thing as a cut and dry right or wrong outcome.
7:45 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

SEO is what one does offsite and WSO is what one does onsite.

ARRRRRGHHHHHHH! (:)) Sorry... You hit my action button there.

There is NOTHING to "optimize" off site.
The word presupposes that there is *something* there to "optimize" and if link building, the links are not there until you place them.

If you were to "optimize" a link you would return to it and change the landing page, anchor text, text size, position, or decoration.

I would call offpage work "Commercial link building intended to artificially inflate search results".
I think Google sees it this way.

If only Google had the ehics of the BBC...

I don't know about their ethics.
If you Google "pancakes with sugar and lemon" you will find 5 almost identical pages in the first 5 listings.

It is this kind of garbage results that should experience Google's ire. We don't need to see 5 identical pages with basically the same content.
1:23 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Spin no. I know alot of people who find it difficult to believe, but the bbc has never wavered from its impartiality and honesty in its ninety odd years of existence.

There is a duality or spin if you like that is inherent in the BBC philosophy/value system, because they know unequivocally that by "doing the right thing" they can only enhance and serve their own best interests too, and so it easy for them to do.

The reason I posted is that I sense alot of the frustration that people have of Google (myself included) comes from the sense that Google is abusing it's position of power, that was so freely given to them, and I gave the quote as an hands on example of a large organisation, who is mindful of its position, and mindful of others around.

There was a time when I thought Google (before adwords) did have the best of intentions, riding the wave of that hybrid of technology and hippy values that was the earlier internet, but I don't think that now.

I don't trust Google. I do however trust the BBC.

The reason I made the "hands up" remark is that we all have personal responsibility, and unlike tedster, when I have had irrelevant traffic my thoughts haven't gone any futher from "why the hell is google sending me this traffic, oh well I'm sure it can't hurt"

So maybe ethical SEO should be talked about, it sure would make change.
2:35 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Delia's pancake recipe page had the meta description altered in mid-August 2010


That's not SEO. He saw results from only changing META keywords?

That would never happen in a million years to the average mom and pop webmaster.
8:05 am on Sep 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

@BaseballGuy NO they where talking about optimising the meta description and the snippet.

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