When it comes to SEO, there are many dubious practices. Those kind of practices are sometimes called “Black Hat” for the obviously unethical one or “Grey Hat” for the not so obvious one.
Many people see SEO as just a way to exploit the search engine to get more profit. However, this views and tendency will blur their vision regarding that is ethical and what is not.
Before we learn about ethical SEO practices, we need to know how the search engine rank our content as doing so will give us a better understanding and views on what’s ethical and what’s not.
How Search Engines Rank Content
Search engines usually return a list of websites that matches or related to the keywords that are typed by the user. From this, we know one thing that they’ll look at when they rank for content: relevance.
Relevance. Your content must be relevant to what your customers are searching for when they type their keywords into the search engine. For instance, if they type “dog training” and your site is about “internet marketing” then you can forget about your site ever displayed for customers that typed in that query.
Next up, what do your visitors look for when they arrived at your site? Quality of content. They will skim through your page and decide if they want to read further or not. The more quality information you put on a page, the likely they are to stay around. But if you just put rubbish information that and “pretend” to be related to your customer’s search query, it won’t work. Your customer is the judge here, not the search engine anymore and they can’t be fooled.
How do the search engine know if you have quality content though? They look for visitor’s engagement metrics. This can come in the form of bounce rate (how many visitors leave your site immediately before a certain time period), time on site (the time that they spend reading on your site), page per visit (the number of pages that they read on one visit) and many more.
Now there are certainly more factors that a search engine use to calculate a rankings but those are the major ones. Search engine algorithm are getting more and more complex as year goes on but you have to keep one thing in mind: you are writing for your visitors. Don’t fool them, respect them.
Ethical Search Engine Optimization Techniques
So what can be considered unethical when it comes to SEO?
It’s when a website owner manipulate SEO for their own selfish desire by fooling the search engines and their customers with sites that are completely useless. For a simple example, there’s a drug salesman that wants to promote a product. He knows that the term “car insurance” is getting a lot of searches. He might then create a page filled with the word “car insurance,” make the text white so people can’t see them and then add article to sell the drug. This is just one example of black hat SEO technique.
So, what are the 3 ethical SEO techniques that we should practice?
1. Always create quality content for your users.
At the end of the day, you are writing for your customers, not for the search engine. Search engine just helps your customer find your content. In the end, you will be talking to your customer. And your customer is the one that will give you money, not the search engine.
Provide quality content for your customer. Make them feel that they’ve received useful, timely and up to date information from you.
Make them talk about your content and your site.
Make them proud that they’ve found your site.
2. Never violates any laws
I won’t be providing a legal advice here, just some general things that you should follow when writing content on the internet.
There are laws on the internet world that you should not break. The most important one is the intellectual property law. You should always make sure that you have the rights to use every materials on your site including citations, images, music and videos.
The safest way would be creating your own content but if you can’t just remember not to steal from people and always link back to the source where you find the information from.
Never, ever claim other people’s product as your own and sell it on your site. This can get you into real problems.
3. Honesty is the best policy
Never exaggerate and boast a company’s image any more than how it should be portrayed. Do not manipulate your customers’ trust. It will backfire at the end.
Make sure all your testimonials are real, not fake.
If you are selling digital products on internet marketing, make sure all the claims that you make are real, not fake. There are many cases regarding internet marketing products that promises “get rich quick” or “push button solution” and now the FTC are after them. Don’t be one of them.
Always put everything online with integrity.
4. Put necessary disclosure on your site
Let your customers know what kind of information you collect from them on your site and if you’re making money from their activity.
Sometimes, information that you consider unimportant can be sensitive for some people and its best to make sure they know what info you collect from them.
So those are the 4 ethical SEO techniques that you should put to practice.
Remember that being ethical does not mean you can’t make money from your product or service. You definitely CAN and SHOULD make profit but do it in a way that does not manipulate others or violating any rights.