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I really hate to contribute to ethics discussions at this point, but I think they get under everyone’s skin at some point. I don’t buy into the whole blackhat/whitehat debate, but I think there should be some level of reasonable expectations from clients and users based on who they’re are dealing with. In my mind a SEO who uses envelope pushing techniques that may get a client banned, but INFORMS them of the potential risks and gains is much more ethical than someone trying to do on-page optimization or search engine submissions for someone in a fairly competitive marketplace and continously leading the client to believe that their expectations will be met.
Ethics Statements based on the goals of those in the search industry-
- SEO’s (Search Engine Optimizers)- dedicated to high search engine rankings
- SERO’s (Search Engine Relevance Optimizers) – dedicated to improving search engine relevance The lines are drawn.
Committment to Clients
1 – A SEO will not take on two clients in identical industries and pit them against one another in the SERPS.
2 – A SEO will inform a client of the risk levels associated with SEO techniques
Committment to other SEO’s
1 – A SEO will respect other SEO’s regardless of techniques within the law of the land, and not aid those with relevance as their main goal. (Don’t fill out problem listing reports – it’s bad karma).
Committment to the user
1 – A SERO will always strive to give users the most relevant information that will provide them the highest level of value for their time.
2 – A SERO will be sure that users can distinguish between paid and “natural” relevant listings.
Committment to SERO Professionals
1 – A SERO will not manipulate search rankings manually – this would not conform to the ideal of algorithmic relevance
2 – A SERO will not attempt to use their search results for monetary gain outside the paid listings, as it may encourage others to “cross the line” into SEO, favoring top rankings over relevance.
If you DO like ethics discussions, here’s a list of some of the better ones:
WMW Supporters Forum
These discussions go on for miles if you are really interested in reading about theory and philosophy rather than actually going out and working on top rankings or relevance.