SEO had a long run of unethical practices. It was viewed as cheating or working the system. I remember going to sites, clothed in vintage Netscape gray, that had a long – I mean really long - scroll bar. I thought “what is with this page, I’m scrolling and scrolling but there is nothing here!” Since I am usually in my computer navigation, I have a bad habit of just clicking and dragging a mouse up and down to scroll. It was that way I suddenly found a whole bunch of words appear on the screen as the highlight inverted the colors. “Woa. Hidden text.” I first wondered why someone would do this, but due to the effort put into the text, I realized that it was to rank the page higher.
A few years ago, I was checking out websites that ranked for keywords for a client. This one site kept ranking #1 – all the time, for every one of my keywords. It didn’t make sense. The site was some ambiguous blog on popular topics back before blogs were a buzzword. He was getting traffic and getting clout for the traffic. But how? It turned out there were hidden links in the source code to a very problematic link farm.
oo! Double Sneaky!
Add to that robot content, doorway pages, dynamic page generation and you get a slimy ball of snake oil soiling your mouse cursor.
Many changes have been made to the search engine algorithms to made these techniques worthless or punish the website for doing it. How does one punish a website? Well, how about removing it from the index altogether?
The other side of unethical SEO is the exploiting the customer. Over-promising to rank you better, faster and stronger and yet under-delivering.
Here are some exploits I’ve seen:
Examination of a websites SEO worthiness – $83,000. Yeah. I saw that while checking out an
SEO guy’s cached page. I still get spam from him.
Optimized content chunks placed on each web page – $60,000. Wait What? Yes, a New York corporation paid this much for this company to write a chunk of readable text with the target keywords and pasted on every possible webpage they have.
I’m guessing that these two companies just wanted to land just one client and then move to another state. Oh wait! It could be the same person!
The real problem is the dissemination of outdated or bad SEO. We are all guilty of it because we can post a blog post from last year and the suddenly the rules change. It’s important to read the latest info available, check dates of postings. Outdated SEO: If you see anything from 2004, its probably best to move on and find something fresher. This is from 2008, but it at least serves as a way to shed off some old “methods.”
All this brings me to a real life instance of Ethical SEO practice. I am going to relate the conversation to you and I will ask you, readers, a question. I’d like to hear from you. I’ll go ahead and say their are no wrong answers.
Colleague: “Hey, do you still do some stuff on the side?”
Me: “Sometimes, I rarely have time anymore, what’s up?”
Colleague: “I have a friend that owns this Widget shop and he owns 10 different domains in different combinations of Widget-city.com and he needs someone to redirect them to a single web page. He doesn’t want a website or anything online. Just a page for his contact information. He wants them to call.”
Me: “uh … ok. He can’t find someone to do that?”
Colleague: “Oh yeah, he got one bid for $1200 and another guy will do it for $500. But the second guy is really busy and it’s been a month and he really wants to get this going.”
Can anyone spot the problem(s) here?