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SEO Code of Ethics – Join the Effort!

UPDATED: 09.18.08

I’m no longer “actively active” in the effort for an SEO Code of Ethics (other than with the team I work to provide services). Ethics is a personal matter and cannot be legislated. (Standards or regulation was not the point in the first place.) My hope was that a team could develop and accept a common SEO Code of Ethics that consumers could reference to understand when they are being snake-oiled. Unfortunately, anyone could simply use such a code as a marketing ploy. It, too, could be misused.

Discussion about a Code of Ethics turns into a heated discussion, it has before and still is. It feels too much like politics and religion. I vote as an independent and see both sides to many issues and find many of the issues are not issues for me. I’m a Christian but don’t push or advertise such as part of my offering. Actually, I’m embarrassed by how some operate. I read a comment about how some use Christianity as part of their marketing. ugh… Others would use a Code of Ethics as part of their marketing. This, too, is snake oil, not SEO. Politics and religion are not SEO either!

Bottom line, I’m going quiet on this topic. I respect those who are following their own SEO Code of Ethics and walking their talk. Comments closed.

ORIGINAL: August 29, 2008

SEOs unite! The SEO Code of Ethics Effort is underway!

Do you provide SEO services and serve clients or represent a company that does Search Engine Optimization and/or Social Marketing? Are you interested in being part of an effort to discuss best practices and ways to implement a voluntary SEO Code of Ethics?

SEO Code of Ethics Google Discussion Group
Join the SEO Code of Ethics Group

If so, join our SEO Code of Ethics Google Discussion Group.

The effort needs participation and GENUINE collaboration of many members of the SEO and Social Marketing Industry.

Discussion & Approach

Discussion about an SEO Code of Ethics is not new. I could post links upon links about discussion regarding the “lack of best practices” (to say it nicely) in the SEO industry. There have been similar initiatives in the past; however, nothing has formalized due to a lack of participation and adherence by many SEOs.

Many of us are in agreement. The need for a Code of Ethics in SEO is stronger now more than ever.

One group member suggested a great approach for the discussion:

Vision: In a perfect world, what do we see this doing?

Mission: What, therefore, is the purpose in this exercise?

Deterrents: What potential problems could occur that we want to deal with now rather than later?

Strategy/Tactics: How or what would we do to accomplish our goals?

Implementation: How has it been implemented before? How can we improve upon that process?

We’re starting from the beginning in forming the approach, yet the path has already been paved. Bruce Clay’s SEO Code of Ethics leads the way as their exemplary model to follow. (Bruce Clay leads the way in SEO on many fronts!)

Voluntary – No Regulation

Can ethics be regulated? No!

Do we want regulation? No!

We’ve seen State & Federal governments try to regulate ethics and morals. It’s not possible. One has to voluntarily want to adhere to high standards.

Discussion about an SEO Code of Ethics is simply an effort to bring the issue to the forefront, not to create a governing body.

We are an impartial voice with no motives to regulate or set standards. We’re aiming for an all-inclusive approach and collaboration. We are not in this to sell services or gain linkbait!

Quality SEO & Social Marketing

The effort and discussion is an opportunity to help educate about quality SEO and best practices for Social Marketing.

The goal is to help fight against stereotypes that SEOs are snake-oil salesmen (and women) and to help educate and enlighten, to fight “entrenched misinformation” about attaining search engine ranking.

I recently met someone who said they do nothing but “black hat SEO.” At least this person was honest! Also, the individual is not selling his services. He utilizes principles to rank his sites high in the search engines for affiliate marketing. Some SEOs, however, do fit this persona, unfortunately. We’ve all received the emails that guarantee “high ranking in 24 hours” in the search engines. This is NOT quality SEO.

Someone mentioned this past week:

Where there is a will there is a way.

Our “will” is to help find a way for all who value and deliver quality SEO and Online Marketing services. It’s our personal promise to our customers, to work in their best interest, and to help educate about best practices.

Join the SEO Code of Ethics effort!

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Category: SEO

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7 Responses

  1. [...] SEO Code of Ethics – Join the Effort! Categories : SEO No comments yet. [...]

  2. Sounds like a great idea. Actually I think the whole web industry could do with a Code of Ethics! But SEO is a good place to start.

  3. Angus, Happy to meet you through Remarkablogger and appreciate your input. Many of us are in agreement with you, and we are hoping that a Code of Ethics would be voluntarily adopted by those in the online marketing industry who provide high standards of conduct for their clients.

  4. Doug Heil says:

    Without any teeth whatsoever, what’s the point? Can’t anyone stick up some “code of ethics” on their site? Sure they can. What exactly does that accomplish? Please don’t say something like it gives the site owner something to go to court with if that SEO doesn’t confirm to their own code of ethics, as that’s a cop out. I want to know what this might accomplish?

    Ethics is a personal thing. One firm’s good ethics, or the way they implement them is not my ethics. Anyone can write something on an ethics page……….so what? This does not move the SEO industry forward at all. Sorry.

    You can state you have good ethics even though some of the tactics/techniques you may use are not ethical. Not YOU, but you know what I mean. :)

    Unless or until the industry gets some kind of spine and has some real best practice standards that not everyone will be able to get into, you can forget about the majority of the industry buying into anything.

  5. I wish I didn’t agree with you, Doug. “Without any teeth whatsoever, what’s the point?”

    Personally, I don’t think standards are possible. Standards infer regulation. Oh, Mr. SEO Trademark (Jason Gambert) said he was trying to implement needed regulation – what a joke! His effort was snake oil on steroids! But, without regulation, there are no teeth. (I don’t care about court – have paid good legal $ for contracts already.) So, as you asked, what’s the point?

    And some SEO practitioners might simply hide behind a Code of Ethics and use it as a marketing ploy. Agreed. Again, what’s the point? Big sigh…

    I’m starting to see there may not be a buy-in by the majority of the industry. How sad! We spend too much time complaining about the snake-oil SEOs – blog post after blog post, ad nauseum.

    Many of us agree there is a need for real best practice standards. Our hope was that a grassroots effort would light a flame to open discussion and come to an agreement on best practices for an SEO Code of Ethics, a template that each individual could then modify for their personal use (IMO). So, why not just do it on our own? Started.

    I’ve been in the industry for years, out of the lime light, watching. I left consulting (other opportunities) and at one point didn’t even want to be associated with the SEO label. Purposefully, I took down my site pages except for the index, did no 301 redirects, let a PR of 5 drop. Well… I absolutely love adding value and helping others and spent most of my spare time providing SEO advice to friends and former clients. Lately, I’ve been surrounded by snake oil SEOs who are giving the industry a bad name. Since we “are who we are associated with,” I’ve had 3 people ask me if I provide such services! UGH

    So, will this effort go anywhere? A few of us may simply use Bruce Clay and others as a template to personally implement standards, which can be used to educate those who are “unknowing” about best practices for SEO.

    Thanks, Doug, for taking the time to comment! To repeat, I wish I didn’t agree.

    P.S. We setup our Google Group, had some interest and then got hit with porn by Russian Hackers!

  6. Doug Heil says:

    Yes Dana; I feel your pain.

    Another great example of my point is that there is a group called SEMPO. Firms can buy their way in and stick up a pretty seal saying they are a proud member. Well, people new to SEO or site owners who just don’t understand, may think that just because that firm happens to be a member, they are some kind of good at what they do. SEMPO even allows owners to submit an RFP that only members can view and respond to. It’s basically saying “we only trust members”. It’s very misleading.

    Code of ethics pages out there even right now are very misleading.

    I would subscribe and do what I could with a “best practices” organization that truly VETTED it’s members in every way. Snake oil, blackhats, and those just too new to SEO could NOT be included. No way. That’s the type of group with some teeth. Too bad it would be too damn hard to implement……..

    unless I totally quit what I am doing right now……..

    hmmm, that’s a thought. :)

  7. Doug, You have too much passion for SEO to let it go! :-)

    I’m breathing a big sigh… Could there be such an organization?

    SEMPO has lead discussions & sessions on certification, etc. Progress? None. I attended a SEMPO meeting 4 years ago and got really excited about the prospects of joining and adding that pretty little badge in the footer of my site. (I even designed for it in my template.) I then asked myself, “What’s the point?” Does that mean I’m trustworthy or any good?

    Okay, we’re full circle regarding an SEO Code of Ethics… Bottom line and to repeat your earlier comment, “Ethics is a personal thing.”