Since SEO and SEM have become so important to internet success, many organization are not willing to put in the traditional work needed to gain popularity. There are techniques that those organizations can take to not only trick search engines, but also trick consumers. One of the biggest unethical SEO practices is called cloaking. This is when the developer portrays one website to the search engines in order to have a higher ranking, and then gives the consumer a different website with sometimes irrelevant content. (Rampton, 2015) Another unethical issue is called keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing can happen within the copy of the page itself, the alt text, and the meta description among other places. Alt text and meta description are common because they feel like no one will ever be able to see the keywords they have placed into that area. (Rampton, 2015) Some websites even create hidden text, or text with white font to hide those keywords, or additional content. Lastly, plagiarism is one of the biggest issues when it comes to SEO and SEM. (Rampton, 2015) The internet is a massive place, and users are being copied each and every day.
Ethical and unethical SEO and SEM are not that difficult to distinguish from one another. Ethical SEO practices are where the user is transparent about what they are trying to accomplish. (Shorr, 2017) Ethical practices are going to be able to show the client exactly what they are doing, and be able to essentially create some sort of trail. Ethical considerations also keep the consumer in mind as well. Most companies want to build a relationship with their audience, and by lying or manipulating those users, it does the opposite. Unethical SEO/SEM typically try to hide information from the users or clients. There is typically an overload of data which make something difficult to understand, or there is not enough information to sustain a traditional practice. (Shorr, 2017) Unethical is going to cause those same users to potentially reject the trust from the consumers.
Other than the moral feeling of being ethical, there are a few important points to consider. Being ethical is the best way to practice legal business. By being ethical, it is almost included that your practice is mostly ethical. In addition to staying out of trouble, there is also the consumer side of being ethical. Now, consumers know more than they ever have about the business practices of companies, and more users are actually interested in it. Keeping an ethical business practice is something that consumers are looking for in companies that they choose. It can increase your audience, and create a better reputation for your company as well.
Forbes.com. (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnrampton/2015/07/29/25-black-hat-techniques-that-are-killing-your-seo/#4baf1ad66431 [Accessed 13 Aug. 2018].
Optimus01 – Online Thinking. (2018). Ethical SEO vs. Unethical SEO | Optimus01 – Online Thinking. [online] Available at: https://www.optimus01.co.za/ethical-seo-vs-unethical-seo/ [Accessed 13 Aug. 2018].
Heller, Z. and Heller, Z. (2018). What Distinguishes Ethical From Unethical SEO? (Guest Post). [online] Zach Heller Marketing. Available at: http://zachhellermarketing.com/blog/2017/8/17/what-distinguishes-ethical-from-unethical-seo-guest-post [Accessed 13 Aug. 2018].