Who does not want to see their website ranked as number one in the search engine results? The top spot is ever so glamorous and enviable, even for a modest webmaster. SEO firms are always striving to improve their clients’ sites and employ various methods to do so. Each optimizer is different from another and optimization of a webpage could be done in more than one way. Therefore, the method followed by one optimizer is not exactly the same as another; there will always be a difference,unless one optimizer needs to (or is compelled to) use the framework of another optimizer in his/her work, which is not a common practice in SEO.
So, what is Ethical?
The battle over ethical and unethical seo shall continue for a long time. But for now, ethical SEO practice is the one that is ‘conventional and has been acknowledged’ by a majority of SEO experts.
Which ‘hat’ to don’t?
Numerous thoughts, viewpoints, methodologies and procedures mean only one thing- Conflict! What one person ‘believes’ to be a fair practice might not be to another. Similarly, in the realm of SEO, you will find optimizers being categorized as ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’ optimizers. If the optimizer follows the ‘rules’ he/she is said to be a ‘white hat’ optimizer and the one who breaks these rules is a ‘black hat’ optimizer. Recently though, another term- ‘grey hat’ is also audible in the seo circles. Grey hat optimizers may not ‘break’ the rules, but they do ‘bend’ them to their convenience. Nonetheless, grey hats are very hard to define and some grey hat practices go so unnoticed that even search engines like Google cannot pin point and say ‘that’s wrong’.
The fact that there are no set rules, makes the categorization of optimizers into either of these ‘hats’ a painful task. Even expert optimizers, who have been revered and ranked as top white hat practitioners think that some SEO personnel are simply pushed to the edge to use ‘unethical’ means,as a last resort.
Only Doing His Job
If an SEO firm is independent, it works on its own terms. Therefore, it can set its own SEO practice manual, which can be accepted by all SEO experts. On the other hand, in house optimizers of a company do not have the right to set rules; they simply follow them. If the company wants its SEO personnel to make their website number one in search engine rankings, but does not provide them with the required resources, the optimizer might have to put on the grey hat if not the black hat. In such scenarios, nobody could blame the optimizer, as he was ‘only doing his job’!
What’s the Right Way?
Although the right path is still an illusion, many SEO experts believe that any optimizer, who uses prescribed tags, does not encourage spamming, uses the right keywords with the right density and incorporates organic linking can be said to be a white hat optimizer. This is only a fraction of the good SEO practice; there are other principled ways, which go beyond the scope of this discussion.