Ethical SEO is the term given to SEO practices that are (yes, you guessed it!) considered ethical in their strategy and execution.
You can consider your SEO strategies to be ethical from either the point of view of the search engine itself, or it could be ethical from the perspective of the business or client you’re working for. Maybe it’s even a mixture of both. Either way, when we talk about ethics, we have to bear in mind that everyone’s definition of right and wrong is different. This can make the subject of ethical SEO much more complex than a simple ‘good versus bad’ argument. However, even though it may be challenging, the ethics of what we do in search engine optimisation should always be considered & evaluated. This makes sure that we can grow businesses with legitimate & approved marketing strategies that are free from risk of penalisation.
Sometimes a website can be penalised by the search engine if the website has shown a continued and consistent use of SEO strategies that are forbidden or are against the search engines’s policy or guidelines.
A penalisation is usually a removal of the website from search engine results or a heavy limitation on the searches for which the website can appear.
Ethical SEO is sometimes referred to as “White Hat” SEO. This means that you will you use approved SEO methods to get results for your client or business.
An ethical SEO approach is playing by the rules and using whatever techniques you can to get ahead of your competitors, as long as they are approved by Google or the search engine you’re working with.
As previously mentioned, ethics themselves can often differ from person to person, leaving them to the subjectivity and nuance of any given situation. However, luckily for us we’re in the search engine optimisation world where we often have an objective set of policies or guidelines to adhere to.
For example, Google, the largest search engine is quite open about what is considered bad practice in the SEO world.
Unethical SEO is sometimes referred to as “Black Hat” SEO. This simply means to implement SEO strategies that go directly against the search engine’s guidelines.
Black Hat SEO is often used to cut corners and manipulate the search engine in your favour. This is usually done through exploiting loopholes or improper use of white hat techniques.