SEO Ethics: Advise Clients of Risks

This is just a quick post – sometimes I come across things that I just want to riff on and I think others will find it interesting as well.

I normally don’t put SEO and ethics in the same sentence: SEO is a marketing tactic, ethics are a system of guiding moral principles. However when doing SEO for clients I think it makes sense to say that there are basic ethics in how you treat the client, advise them of risk, which tactics you use for them, and the like.

Anyway, I’m doing some consulting work right now for a client in a fairly competitive niche, and one of the main competitors in the results is being ranked by some weird bought links. I know :in and of itself, nothing unusual. Anyone who plays in any kind of competitive result will find a large percentage of sites ranking on paid links.

What I did find unusual was that on the same sites where there are links to this company, there are also links to the SEO firm doing the optimization for this company. It gets to the point where the related:companysite.com brings up the SEO company site as a potential match.

I’ve also seen recently some SEO companies linking out to their clients from their sites with anchor text – are they so desperate they don’t have any other way of building links?

What happens when someone outs you on a blog? Then what do you do? What if some Google engineer hates your specific SEO provider (hey, it could happen)?

My point is – there’s a risk involved in admitting you’re doing active link building for a site, and even more risk involved publicly admitting your SEO company and their involvement in your site. If that risk is acceptable then by all means, go ahead – but SEO companies need to be upfront in advising clients of the risks inherent in certain murky practices.


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