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Ethics and SEO, SEM

Ethics in the purest sense is an internal compass which points the SEO practitioner to the most honest and above board way to do business.
Many major companies both national and global, have ethics officers which define ethical behavior and set the corporate culture.
Ethics concerns the interaction with the legal frame work of a company's home nation as it interacts with client's cultural prerogatives.
Within SEO/SEM much effort has been expended to link ethics to SEO/SEM techniques.
In this case the specific ethical abstraction is the interface between all available SEO/SEM technology and the various search engines' definition of allowable techniques.
Those SEO/SEM methods supported by the search engine standards are considered ethical SEO.
The remainder is rated as unethical simply because they are not approved by the search engines.
Under this paradigm, search engines are assuming the role of the moral authority.
Potential SEO/SEM clients and search engine users do not have a topical understanding of SEO/SEM to effectively evaluate these questions.
It is therefore up to the SEO/SEM practitioner and the search engine company executives to define this answer.
Search engine companies, in order to drive revenue, depend on displaying a relevant web site list to the inquirer.
Consultants, in order to develop clientèle, must provide techniques to place their client's web site at the top of those lists.
If an SEO consultant strictly adheres to approved search engine optimization methods is that consultant serving the best interests of his client? The goal must be to get listed faster and higher than the client's competition.
Is using unapproved SEO techniques bad business or counterproductive? If the SEO/SEM consultant uses deceptive techniques as define by the search engines but achieves the clients goals are those efforts serving the end user and the client by creating a desired connection? If the search engine company is aware that users are not obtaining relevant search lists because of a specific SEO technique, should they declare that technique unethical? Is an SEO technique unethical merely because it is not serving the best interests of the search engine? Surely the search engine company can modify ranking algorithms to limit the impact of specific techniques which do not serve their best interests; however, does that give them the right to be the moral compass? Do not allow the ethics question to confuse the importance of basic SEO.
Ethics is not about technology it is about using poor business practices which fail to serve the Internet community.
If there is an ethics to SEO/SEM it must be about win-win.
Search engines and SEO/SEM consultants win when they jointly generate lists which contain quality information.
Users win when they get what they ask for.
Web owners win when they get conversions.

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