Ethical SEO - The Great Debate

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Thread Description:

Alan Perkins posts what i can only describe as a puff piece on ethical seo today. Although i'd be the first to raise a hand and admit to sometimes being over cynical on these issues, I dont think it would be stretching the mark to far to say that this piece was placed solely to target the term ethical seo Though lord knows why anyone would want to do that...

It's not long, have a read: Ethical SEO Ethical SEO Ethical SEO Ethical SEO Ethical SEO Ethical SEO

Im finding it very hard to see what Perky's point is here, let's look at a few points he makes, im sure some of you can fill me in, or just flame me to death, whatever takes your fancy :-)

He starts off by defining the stakeholders, citing reference to A Framework For Ethical Decision Making - those stakeholders being:

  1. Searchers
  2. Search Engines
  3. Site owners, their employees and their agents
  4. The Web as a whole

Interesting order, but we'll let that pass for now heh..

More puff follows, then this:

From a site owner's perspective, the action that does the most good and the least harm is the one that recognises the fundamental reason why a site is not performing optimally in search results; and fixes that fundamental problem; thus improving the site, the search results and the Web as a whole.

The action that does the least good and the most harm is the deception of search engines in order to achieve a placement in search results that is not warranted by the content that searchers see. This does not improve the site; in addition, it worsens the search results, and thereby the Web as a whole. Such actions effectively remove the role of determining relevance from the search engines, and place it instead with site owners. When site owners use deception to influence relevancy, the quality, diversity and utility of search results is lost to deceptive commercial influences.

So, judging from the first paragraph, if the problem is the fact that a site does not have 10,000 backlinks like all the others in the top 10, i should go out and get 10,000 backlinks right?

Oh, wait! Not so... Am i reading this right? I think this is the whole crux of this post, surrounded by filler, but the crux nonetheless...

To me this simply makes no sense at all, how can you even contemplate SEO without trying to manipulate rankings? Surely that's the whole sodding point...

Comments

Ah, Nick, Nick, Nick

I know you don't agree with Alan, but "puff"?? I think it's a very good, well thought-out piece (one of a series of three, by the way).

What's so hard to get?

I don't understand why you have trouble understanding it Nick. Seems pretty straight forward to me.

Regarding this statement from Alan:

Quote:
From a site owner's perspective, the action that does the most good and the least harm is the one that recognises the fundamental reason why a site is not performing optimally in search results; and fixes that fundamental problem; thus improving the site, the search results and the Web as a whole.

And your subsequent question:

Quote:
So, judging from the first paragraph, if the problem is the fact that a site does not have 10,000 backlinks like all the others in the top 10, i should go out and get 10,000 backlinks right?

No, you should make your site more worthwhile so that 10,000 other pages will want to link to yours.

OK, Jill (or Alan, if you agree with Jill's interpretation)

No, you should make your site more worthwhile so that 10,000 other pages will want to link to yours.

So, given that some of us deal with real-life paying businesses, what is your suggested reply when those businesses turn round and say:

"Yes, but I'm still behind the site that also made their site so worthwhile so they also got 10,000 links entirely voluntarily, but their SEM specialist actually went out and got another 5,000 on top of that."

You told Nick:
I don't understand why you have trouble understanding it Nick. Seems pretty straight forward to me.

What I fail to understand from you (or from any other proponent of organic/ethical/whatever SEM) is what exact value-adding selling proposition your services bring to the equation that are not equally available to non organic/ethical/whatever SEMs?

[quote]To me this simply make

Quote:
To me this simply makes no sense at all, how can you even contemplate SEO without trying to manipulate rankings? Surely that's the whole sodding point...

Not to everybody. To some, the point is to diagnose the problem ("Why is my site at 426"), and devise a strategy to develop the site, such that it reached #1.

The key is to work on the site, not the search engines. The joy is that having the Very Best Site on blue widgets, the site remains at #1, however often or weirdly the SEs restructure their algorithms.

Novel approach; but its adherents claim it works!

Late night rant

I don't believe there are many non fortune-500-type commercial sites in the top 10 for any competitive phrase that has not broken the spirit of that article.

If there are, I would like to see them.

If a site owner feels his site is just as relevant as the sites in the top ten - what is wrong with brute forcing the site into the SERPs? Or, do we let the search engines (for-profit companies) arbitrarily make the decision for site owners (often other companies)? I guess if we do that then we can always *pay* the search engine (ppc) to display our site in the front page. That's ethical, right?

Pay offs are quite popular in some circles.

It appears that if a search engine will allow a site to PPC it's way to the front page that the search engine is giving tacit approval of the sites value to the targeted phrases. It also appears that the search algo *must* play favorites as there are only 10 spots worth having in the organic results.
In the brick and mortar world we have all experienced companies or bosses that played favorites. Those that choose to play the favorites game have a name. Brown Nosers. We don't call them unethical unless they do something unethical.

So, why do some people insist on trying to label site owners as unethical when they are simply playing an age old game of favorites? Why the difference? In a word - slyness. The opposite co-worker of brown noser is the sly dog. Often using sophistry this person works many angles to achieve his/her goals. Feigning naivete, deflection, gossiping and attaching *labels* are trademark behaviors of the sly dog.

Both the brown-noser and the sly dog have something in common. They usually want to achieve the same goal - MONEY. Brown-nosers don't like sly dogs and sly dogs absolutely hate brown-nosers. Some of us are Search Brown Nosers and other are Search Sly Dogs. SBNs make money by playing the favorites game with SEs. The Sly Dogs on the other hand - true to their names - are much more cunning. Many of them have built such solid connections that if they could somehow prevent the SBNs from tricking their way into the top search results - they would make a lot of money. So, you get the plausible argument about ethics, but it is really deflection. Ethics in this case, can be a means to the money. Remove the brown-nosers and only the connected will have access to the money.

I know many of you hate the idea of being grouped as a brown-noser, but if we were not we would simply give Google (or whoever) the finger and move on - in a manner similar to DMOZ... or SEMPO.

[quote]Roles and Responsibili

Quote:
Roles and Responsibilities of Site Owners

* Provide a good quality Web site designed to appeal to particular target markets
* Correct any fundamental problems with architecture, accessibility, usability
* Write or rewrite the content to ensure suitability for the target markets
* Make good use of the available robots standards
* Market the site using links designed for people to see and follow
* Obey the terms of service of the search engines and directories that site is submitted to

my bold

the point being that since you don't submit to Google (well really, do you?) you can do anything you want with your site as long as it's legal and you don't complain if you aren't listed or get delisted.

Search engine spam dosen't exsist

I am amazed by how well search engines, with the help of a few "extremist SEOs", have managed to place a major part of the responsibility for the quality of their product on the site owners. Imagine if the newspapers did the same. I personally think it's BS - I am not running the search engines just as well as I am not running the newspapers.

If s newspaper brings a really bad press release on the front page would they run out calling that company a spammer? No, they would fire the editor that accepted it!

With search engines we (or most of us, right) don't even submit to the engines (send in our press release), so how on earth can we have ANY responsibility for what engines chose to crawl, index and rank? I have not "asked" Google to come by my sites since 99 - they just do it because they think it's worth it. Thats their choice to do it - or not. But please don't blame me if what you took from my website, without ever asking me, messes up your index or search results. Fix it, or go home!

It Lasts

Quote:
What I fail to understand from you (or from any other proponent of organic/ethical/whatever SEM) is what exact value-adding selling proposition your services bring to the equation that are not equally available to non organic/ethical/whatever SEMs?

The results from organic optimization are long-term. You don't have to worry about having to replace the site when risky techniques lead to trouble.

As a general rule, organic isn't going to shoot a site from #500 to #1 in a month, but it will steadily improve the rankings, the targeting of the traffic, and the conversions. And you get to keep your domain name.

I think I get to keep my domain name...

qwerty, you well know that there is a vast gap between activities likely to result in having to throw away a domain name and activities which are a laissez-faire whiter than white (which is what was being implied above).

So you never asked a site to link to yours - or when you did, you did so without any search engines in mind? Pull the other one, it's got bells on.

Natch

I absolutely go after links, but only from relevant sites (my own opinion of relevant -- I recognize that it's a subjective term) or directories. I want a link to at least have the possibility of sending me traffic, so I never do it exclusively to influence the search engines, but of course I want the search engines to give me credit for everything I do.

I don't think what Alan recommends is laissez-faire. It's a very proactive philosophy of improving a site in order to improve its position and profitability. Are you suggesting that you have to be deceptive (to any of the "stakeholders," as the articles refers to them) in order to be something other than laissez-faire? Are we not in agreement on what we use that term to mean?

you say ethics, I say something else entirely

Quote:
No, you should make your site more worthwhile so that 10,000 other pages will want to link to yours.

Jill, you're so right. However that isn't search engine optimisation, it's actually just good design, marketing, copywriting and business strategies. Yes Ok so there's a little bit of pure SEO in making sure your titles are worded appropriately and you give the company name less promenance than you might normally, but fundamentaly 'ethical' seo is exactly the same as you do when you know nothing about SEO but do know how to make a business pay.

Lots0 comments in Ethical Search Optimisation Explained at SEW

Quote:
"Just what does an SEO do - an SEO gets top placement in search engines for web pages - that's what we do. Does it matter how we do it - NO. As long as the client is fully informed of ALL methods available their upsides and their downsides - then the client should make the decision, not the SEO.

IMO an "unethical SEO" is one that refuses to tell there clients that there are ways to get that #1 spot for that single keyword that returns 2million+ results and 25,000 searches a day. This "unethical SEO" would say something like "Oh that's not realistic - lets target this combination of 3 keywords that returns 20,000 results and gets 50 searches a day, I the ethical SEO will get you a #1 spot for this 3 word phrase."

So who is this so called "ethical SEO" working for anyway, the search engine or the client?

If your taking money from the client you should be working for them - and to hell with what the SE's want or don't want."

which has to be one of the best summations ever IMO. I don't think all clients want, need or should have controversial SEO tactics but the issue of ethics isn't actually about what methods you use, as long as they're legal, it's about how you treat your client.

Is that all we do?

Quote:
Just what does an SEO do - an SEO gets top placement in search engines for web pages - that's what we do.

I guess this is why I'm not crazy about calling myself an SEO -- not because I don't think I am one, but because the term gets defined for me in a manner I don't agree with. That not all I do, and I'm not going to start calling myself an SEM instead, because I don't run PPC campaigns.

If the fact that my goals involve more than improved rankings means you can't call me an SEO, so be it, but until I think of a better title for myself, I'm going to keep using it.

Ethic? Duh??! Wot's Dat??!??

Quote:
the point being that since you don't submit to Google (well really, do you?) you can do anything you want with your site as long as it's legal and you don't complain if you aren't listed or get delisted.

Of course you can; the article doesn't suggest that you can't.

The author simply suggests that doing some things isn't ethical. That's all. If you don't have ethical standards (or don't know what they are), nothing he says applies to you.

But your mistake is to assume that we're all like you. We're not. Many people out there do know what ethical standards are - and choose to live and work by them.

I'm not saying you have to. I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying live and let live. That's all.

now you've lost me

how is my not submitting my site to google and choosing not to follow the guidelines of a company I don't ask to do business with unethical?

as it happens I don't do 'black hat' but I do defend the right of people who choose to to do so. I'm very ethical thank you, and perfectly happy to stand by both my ethics and morals, which include looking at both sides of an argument before making my decision.

You Said:

Quote:
you can do anything you want with your site as long as it's legal and you don't complain if you aren't listed or get delisted

That is neither ethical nor unethical. I am not making a personal comment on your practice, as I have no idea what you do. I am simply responding to what you said.

An ethical stance might say, (for example) "you can do anything you want with your site as long as it's legal, decent and honest".

I am also not condemning 'black hat' - I do defend their right to be delisted from Google as soon as possible ;o)

Let's not start accusing eachother...

Quote:
how is my not submitting my site to google and choosing not to follow the guidelines of a company I don't ask to do business with unethical?

It isn't, in my opinion. Not if that's the extent of it. Now, if you're studying that company's algo and looking for ways to undermine it in order to give your clients' sites a boost in the results pages provided by that company, the article would argue that you're being unethical because you're actively seeking to undermine at least one of those stakeholders.

taking care not to accuse anyone here Qwerty....

but by participating in forums is a person not at least indirectly seeking ways to better their results in the SERPS? Can we learn from people who've studied the algo? How many stages removed do we have to get before it's ok?

I don't algo chase, but we all adapt what we do based on what filters down.

We can learn

...and then we can judge. Once you understand something -- how something works, and what can be done to have some effect -- you decide whether doing that thing would be right for yourself, your client, and (in Alan's opinion and to a pretty good extent my own) the search engine and the web as a whole.

Ethic Are A Very Personal Thing

Point is, 'black hat' broadly takes the view "it's ok to deceive Google, it's just a chunk of machinery", while they know - in their heart of hearts - that to deceive Google is actually deceiving Google's users. that's not theory, but cold hard fact.

Just because it's indirect does not suddenly make it ethical; the deceipt was made conscious of the end-user effect - indeed, it was done with the intention of persuading the end user that the site in question 'deserved better' than it would otherwise have achieved. That's unethical.

it also explains why 'blackhatters' must hate Google; they have created a vital role for Google as the middle man - 'Google has deceived the punter / Google has let me down by failing to deceive the punter' - either way, personal responsibility is removed from equation.

But, I repeat, I don't condemn it - so long as its legal. I have little respect for them, especially as they are inevitably in denial. They can boast to their kids "I deceived Google"; some might find it harder to say "I conned thousands of people". Some just don't care.

As Mr Perkins hasn't asked fo

As Mr Perkins hasn't asked for a site "ethical compliance" review I won't be so rude as to give one. If he would like to contact me with his permission I would be happy to point out why *I* think he is a low down dirty spammer no better than the rest of us.

-------------------
The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.

The true hypocrite ...

Ah, there's nothing can beat intelligent debate, is there - at least, that last post was nothing to beat intelligent debate. Nice to see that conscience striving to heard among the BS, though ;o)

Civility

Let's have some please :)

Quote:
while they know - in their heart of hearts - that to deceive Google is actually deceiving Google's users. that's not theory, but cold hard fact.

I guess a lot of what astounds me on this whole thing is the naivety....

This is pure BS

All this talk of stakeholders and such... what a load of crap.

Harming stakeholders.... funny.

promote your company over another company = harm
run a surprise sale 24 hours before the competition = harm
recruit key personal from large company = harm
purchase in large quantities and sell cheaper than mom and pop = harm

This is just circle jerk logic.

Where does the article say

that your competitors are stakeholders? Yes, they're part of the web as a whole, but 1) the billion or so others on the web outnumber them, and 2) none of the practices you've listed are in any way deceptive.

Off site

Quote:
Ethical SEO. I guess that's when people place certain keywords, like ethical seo, in their copy (quite often) whilst pretending they're not doing this only because search engines exist. Funny thing is - they know full well that search engines exist, they have built businesses around feeding search engines content, and apparently all this self-deception has something to do with morality.

From Peter "what's trackback?" Da Vanzo heh..

Ethics - the last refuge of the scoundrel

So how come it is unethical for me to beat your site using methods which you and the search engines disapprove of, but it is ethical for you to beat a potentially more "worthy" site that has no SEO, also by using methods that search engines disapprove of (gaining links for purposes of ranking; the famous "would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"; etc)?

Ooooh...

Yup, the article is #8 on google.com for ethical seo, and #1 when I check UK only on google.co.uk (from the US). So that proves... very very little, I'd say.

Sorry, but Alan has been speaking and writing about ethical business practices and their relationship to our line of work since before I got into this line of work. I'm personally not impressed by the theory that it's nothing but a marketing strategy. If you want to believe that, feel free, but that doesn't make it rubbish, or nothing about nothing, or any other term meant to trivialize his points.

I would say that getting link

I would say that getting links exclusively for the purpose of rankings is a bad practice, but not because it's unethical. My problem with it is that I can't tell my client that I have reason to believe the benefit of such links will last.

And I'm not one of those "would I do this if the search engines didn't exist" people. I'm also not Alan.

I'm not sure what you mean by "potentially more 'worthy' site" though. You mean a site that would be more relevant than mine if someone did some work on it and made it more relevant??

No, I mean a site that is mor

No, I mean a site that is more informative, more valuable, with better connections, better pictures, willing to spend far more than your clients on content creation - in fact, however you wish to visualise it for the purposes of argument - but that you are ranking above because you know the techniques to do so (whatever you do) and the other site does not.

A site that you are taking visitors from.

(Incidentally, I'm referring to posts from you and Jill in this thread since you have responded on these points - not because I think either of you are Alan.)

Ladies and gentleman...

I think we have a winner...

My methods

My methods are to make my client's site full of good content, logical navigation, clear use of keywords, well-connected, etc. In other words, the site you're describing would beat me.

I make my client's sites as useful as I can. If there's a site out there that's more useful -- genuinely useful -- then I can either redouble my efforts or explain to my client why the other site is doing better than theirs. In other words, if they're truly more "worthy," and I don't beat them by making my client's site even more "worthy" they win.

And that has happened in the real world. I've got a client who wants to beat a site that adds content every day. My client isn't going to do that. I've taken them from around 100 to 4 on their main keywords, but I'm not going to beat that other site. Not in the rankings, at any rate. My client's profits are up. I don't know about the other guys.

I think it's hilarious

I think it's hilarious that after all these years the same old stuff keeps geting debated over and over and over and over. Sorry I find it tired.

Aww, but Sophie

It's so much fun now and then. Besides, it's different this time, at least from my end. I haven't once attacked any specific practices or people. I'm just talking about the article, and answering questions about my own practices.

By the way, the same discussion (though not as interesting) is going on at SEW too.

Puff piece ? More like a KO

Quote:
Alan Perkins posts what i can only describe as a puff piece on ethical seo today.

Well, if that's a mere puff piece, gimme more - it's certainly got the hyenas squirming hasn't it?

Strange, when I see puff pieces by people I disrespect, I ignore them. Maybe it wasn't a puff piece - or maybe [shock! horror!] you respect Mr Perkins more than you are letting on!

More! More!

Well Bob...

At least I got to say hello to you eh :)

today it is a puff piece. tom

today it is a puff piece. tomorrow it will be a puff piece. meanwhile Nick has stirred up good activity on ThreadWatch.

I half agree

We did get some good activity in here over it, but I just don't think of it as a puff piece, and I'm sorry, but it seems to me that you're only describing it that way because you don't agree with it. That doesn't seem right to me.

You can attack an article's points without saying that it's an irrelevant little nothing, but instead you choose to belittle it without expaining why it's a puff piece -- only why you disagree with it.

So maybe you're right... I'll be watching for mentions of it on Entertainment Tonight.

It's like politics

we each have our positions and rarely does the other side win a convert. I don't think the article is a puff piece - even though I disagree with much of it.

I *do* think it was written for marketing purposes as has been suggested.

That's Fine

I can respect an opinion like that. Only Alan knows whether it was for marketing purposes, but you are certainly welcome to your opinion.

The thing is, I almost never write articles. There's one on my site, written almost two years ago. It just seems to me that anything I would write would be a puff piece. It's not my strength, and I don't have any new ideas. I'm pretty good at editing, though.

How many articles has WebProNews published on how to choose keywords, or how to get links? Can anyone tell one of those from another? That's puff.

There really are people...

...who write articles and post in forums, etc., because they like to help.

Alan has more business than he knows what to do with, and certainly doesn't need to write articles like that to gain more. Sometimes you just have a "story" inside that you just gotta tell.

If you don't write articles and the like for any reason other than marketing, you'd never get that. You write stuff like that because you have no choice but to write it.

People write articles for lots of reasons

Sometimes it is even to get an idea over to your audience ;O) People with more than enough work right now would be daft to stop marketing. The market forgets quickly. I don't think this guy is daft. Who do you think of now when you think "Ethical SEO"?

Who do you think of....

Its a what not a who in my case but seeing you asked.

I think of a white, 1st world, middle class person who can't rank on anything even mildly competitive.

You?

ethical standards

>>ethical standards

And who defines them? I am bound by the law, and that to me is the bottom line.

The same goes for plenty of things, if i decide to live my life one way, that is, within the law, who the hell has the right to tell me otherwise.

It's not the same thing

Quote:
I am bound by the law, and that to me is the bottom line.

We're all ostensibly bound by the law. Ethics are not the same thing. They may not be completely separate, but they're far from being synonymous. You can certainly adhere to the law and not utilize ethical techniques.

who defines them? you do

Ethics are also entirely personal and therefore most people see themselves as totally ethical, even if someone else may view them as unethical. Occcasionally we may make a decision to do something we think is unethical but by definition our own ethical code governs most of what we do.

The processes we go through to make a decision are the same but the final decision may be different based on our experiences, biases and beliefs - is it ethical to have nuclear bombs "as a deterrent"? (please do not discuss!) - that depends utterly on your personal opinion. So is cloaking ethical? same range of opinions.

Taking the moral high ground is a dangerous position for anyone who's only human ;)

potato ..potatoe

define an ethical solution.

Once you have done that, tell me why my solution, by my ethical standards is wrong?

Who defines the level of ethics or morality?

I Object

  • to being told what is ethical and not, when ethics are personal
  • to self appointed sherif's
  • to thinly disguised whining
  • to being labeled unethical, based on someone else's personal ethics
  • to being preached to. Period.
  • to the fact that, just because some moron says somthing that vaguely fits some others beleifs, it's automatically adopted as being authoratitive. Remember PJ Fucso? - Some of those wetting their pants over this drivel should be ashamed of themselves.
  • to the sheeplike mentality of people i would otherwise consider to be of great intelligence
  • to the undermining of a community for personal gain
  • To the cynical use of "holier than thou" as a marketing tool
  • To seeing my friends, collegues, and people i respect being so easily manipulated

Object away. I'm just talking

Object away. I'm just talking about the article, not ethics. The only time I'm mentioning the e-word is when others seem to me to be changing the subject.

But I don't think anyone's preaching. It's just opinion. And the article (if I remember correctly) names absolutely no practices it deems unethical. It just describes a framework for what Alan deems to be the criteria for what would be ethical on the web.

It seems to me, Nick, that you're objecting to a trend that's been going on in the forums for a long time. And while I don't fully agree with the way you've described that trend, I respect your right to view it that way. But that's not what's in this article.

Dear Client

The action that does the least good and the most harm is the deception of search engines in order to achieve a placement in search results that is not warranted by the content that searchers see. This does not improve the site; in addition, it worsens the search results, and thereby the Web as a whole.
Alan Perkins

Dear Client

Thanks for your kind comments about the efficacy of my latest optimisation of your site (or, as we like to term it, "Improving the web for its users"). I am glad to hear that your sales have risen by 5,000% in the last week.

However, we do have a problem that needs to be solved fairly rapidly. The incredible success of my patented ethical SEO techniques has meant that you have received 1,645,321 visitors in the last 24 hours for the term "red widgets".

Nonetheless, I remember from our initial interview that you mentioned that you did not sell "red widgets". (In fact, I believe your exact words were: "Never sold that crap, never have, never will! Blue widgets, me, that's what made my father rich and if it were good enough for him, it's good enough for me!")

Despite the fact that many of these "red widget" searchers have actually ended up buying your superior blue widgets, I must ask you to remove the page redwidget.php as soon as practicable.

I am sure that you will appreciate that to leave it in this undeserved position of prominence may cause irreparable harm to the fabric of the web (and, indeed, potentially cause a tear in the space-time continuum).

If the page is not removed within 48 hours, I shall be forced to report myself to the search engines for breaches of their guidelines.

In the meantime, I shall remove some of the photos on your "Blue Widgets Pictures" page, since we appear to have inadvertently moved ahead of the far superior gallery of "blue widgets" supplied on the British Museum site.

I look forward to your response

Mr E. Thick
Search Engine Optimisation for Uncompetitive Areas

almost but not quite

sorry Qwerty but there are two bits of the article where things have to be argued.

One is the assumption that specific techniques are unethical. A Machete is not unethical. Use of one to hack someone up is unethical (under most circumstances I can imagine). The machete is not capable of decision making and therefore cannot be said to have ethics of any type.

The other is right at the end.

Quote:
When unethical, deceptive practises are deployed the opposite happens. It is partly for this reason that I believe the SEO industry is sleepwalking towards disaster. Any industry that condones actions that make the Web a worse place cannot rely upon the long term support of the Web's users.

That doesn't describe what Alan deems to be ethical on the web, that implies his belief is that a lot of what is currently happening is unethical. Of course he has the right to believe that but of course people are going to refute it.

The main problem with this is, like any subjective subject, that it's a great argument to be having in the bar at midnight with lots of gesticulating but it's pretty difficult to get quite that atmosphere online :)

whoops

stever said it better ;)

Dear Client

stever, that post was superb, lol :D

Not quite but almost

Quote:
One is the assumption that specific techniques are unethical. A Machete is not unethical. Use of one to hack someone up is unethical (under most circumstances I can imagine). The machete is not capable of decision making and therefore cannot be said to have ethics of any type.

I agree, Gurtie. However, a machete is a tool, not a technique. Using a machete to clear out an area on your property is arguably an ethical technique. Use of a machete to clear the queue in front of you at the cinema is not.

And stever... Good stuff. But if I can take just a few stupid little exceptions to what you wrote, I wonder what the purpose of the redwidgets pages is, and what about it is bringing in so much traffic searching for red widgets. If the client doesn't sell red widgets, I suppose the page could be used to explain to the reader why blue widgets are so utterly superior to the red sort, thus informing the user, deceiving no one, and increasing sales.

Next up, the British Museum. If Alan's work has made his client's page more relevant to the search than that of the Museum, so be it. The museum could always make improvements to their page if they feel the need to do so. Nobody but the museum is being hurt by a "better" page beating theirs, and there's nothing against competition in Alan's paper.

Finally, his point, I think, is that we're all inter-related, and all responsible for the best interests of the web, ourselves, our clients, etc. so if one of us did something they deemed "wrong" that doesn't mean they need to turn themselves in to the authorities. It means they should discontinue that wrong practice. And who said the SE was the authority?

>deceiving no one EXCEPT T

>deceiving no one

EXCEPT THE SEARCH ALGORITHMS. classic bait and switch.

>And who said the SE was the authority?

who else would it be with the whites of white hats bidding on others trademark terms?

How?

How is it a bait and switch if the content and the meta description (and therefore, most likely the snippet) make it clear that the page is about how red widgets are not worth buying?

Can you explain the second part of your post? I don't know what you mean.

well if you want to get picky :)

>>Use of a machete to clear the queue in front of you at the cinema is not.

damn. Really? I wondered why people looked at me funny....

I say the technique is still neither ethical or unethical ie; the technique is to swing the machete and cut down the things in front of you which you would like to be rid of.

The ethical part comes in making the decision of when and where to use that technique.

>How is it a bait and switch

>How is it a bait and switch if the content and the meta description (and therefore, most likely the snippet) make it clear that the page is about how red widgets are not worth buying?

are you saying that the snippets are 100% perfect? isn't that the whole point of this discussion, that search engines make errors and are not perfect machines?

>Can you explain the second part of your post? I don't know what you mean.

remember a while ago when I was a nasty human being for bidding on others names then the same other ultra white hat SEOs that were bitching at me felt free to bid on others names

Not 100%

I used the words "most likely". I think that covers it. I wouldn't call it a bait and switch if the SEs failed to recognize the true content of your page through their own shortcomings, but that's not the same thing as finding ways to take advantage of their shortcomings in an effort to get the snippet to display inaccurate information. That would be a bait and switch. But if you'd like to show me an example of a page that's about one thing but displays a snippet that indicates something very different, I'd be happy to take a look and tell you who I think is at fault in the situation.

And yes, I remember that, but even you weren't bidding on trademarked terms,right? It was just people's names. And I think their doing it (I didn't) in response to your actions was just a way of showing that they didn't take it overly seriously. They were just giving back what they got. I don't think anyone claimed that the activity was illegal. The worst I saw was Jill's response, which was something like "icky".

And Gurtie... you got me. Maybe Alan could counter that point, but I can't.

you feeling OK?

Qwerty, you know all the fun goes out of this game if you ethical types start conceding points? :D

Oh, ok...

Well if you insist.

No no no, you're wrong. You're just saying that because you're evil!

Better?

thank you

for one terrible moment I thought I was going to have to start arguing the other side.

>But if you'd like to show me

>But if you'd like to show me an example of a page that's about one thing but displays a snippet that indicates something very different, I'd be happy to take a look and tell you who I think is at fault in the situation.

that is the point though. each of us are biased. algorithms are always at least a little bit broke. should the average webmaster take time away from their business to accomidate broken algorithms?

[quote]should the average web

Quote:
should the average webmaster take time away from their business to accomidate broken algorithms?

According to me, or according to the article?

The article promotes the idea that we're all responsible to some extent in the effort of making the web better. Sure we're all biased, and what I consider a snippet that properly represents the content of a page in the context of an SE query, you might think of as either a lie on the part of the webmaster or an indication that the algo is broken. But the article's not about some online Utopia; it's just about all of us (owners, engines, searchers, and marketers) to try to keep everything as much on the up-and-up and possible.

If you want my personal take on it, if someone comes to me and says that they rank well for a given query but nobody clicks their listing because the snippet poorly describes the page... well, that's a business opportunity for me :)

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