Displaying Your SEO Ethics
It’s been interesting to see the recent chatter about SEO ethics over the last couple of days. Twitter was all aflutter during the weekend and then Harith brought the conversation to Sphinn asking, “should a SEO company declare its ‘SEO Code of Ethics’. It’s a topic worth discussing.
I’ll start off by saying that while I don’t think it’s necessary for an SEO company to declare on its Web site what rules they adhere to, I do think it can be an important differentiator for those visiting your site. You have to see the value in letting potential clients know from the very first interaction what they can expect from your company. What better way to start building trust with a client than to lay it all on the table from the very beginning and let them know what the type of search engine optimization and tactics you’ll use to improve their Web site?
That has always been the thinking behind our SEO Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. It’s never been about policing the search community or trying to impose rules. It’s our way of letting clients and other SEOs know from the start what we believe in. It’s also our small way of helping to spread ethical search engine optimization, since we allow likeminded SEOs to take the crest and put it on their own Web site.
Our Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct also helps to set our reputation as an ethical SEO company who puts clients first.
If you were at SES San Jose last week you probably met a search engine jackass or two. Someone who clearly was out to promote themselves. Someone who made claims we all know they can’t back up. Someone who acted like a royal jerk in the middle of sessions and whose main agenda seemed to be causing a scene. That’s not the kind of behavior we engage in and we want clients to know that from the beginning. We may not be able to promise you a number one Google ranking for every keyword on the planet, but we can promise you ethical SEO and a professional demeanor.
Search-Mojo had a post last week that really resonated with me called Reputation Is Not Absolute – You Must Learn It. In that post, author Catherine Pots writes:
“Is it really worth it to damage what could be a great reputation for playing the game fairly or are you OK with having that crowd of doubters who think (and maybe know) that you cheated to get where you are? I’m not. So I keep it white hat. Mind your reputation, it WILL follow you and if respect is a word that means something in your life, you need to be cautious.”
Love it. The entire bit of it. That’s why we do the type of search engine optimization that we do. Our reputation means a lot to us. We’re not going to jeopardize the kind of work we do because a client wants quick rankings. If you want an SEO vendor that’s going to dabble in black hat, there are plenty out there that will. We’re going to protect our reputations and the reputations of our clients by playing inbounds and doing things the right way.
And that’s what our Code of Ethic really means to us. Catherine really hit the nail on the head when she said it’s about not risking your reputation. We adhere to the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct we set out because we think it helps show people what we’re about – white hat search engine optimization that puts the client first. That’s the reputation and the promise we’ve created for ourselves and it’s something we stick to.
So while I don’t think it’s necessary for every SEO to put a Code of Ethics on our Web site, I’d encourage you to have a page that shows your clients who you are as a company. For us, that’s how our Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct is. If you’ve never taken the time to read it over, you may be interested in it. And if you agree with what you find there, feel free to sport that crest on your own site. You’d be in good company.