I recently read a book that used the phrase “unethical SEOs” quite frequently when describing certain SEO tactics performed by some SEO providers. I know, the unethical debate has been beaten to the ground but what got me is that in this book an “unethical SEO” was one who used such tactics as attempting to add a keyword into your site title when submitting to a directory.
Unethical? C’mon! Is it unethical for me to submit my site to Yahoo and put “Pole Position Search Marketing” instead of “Pole Position Marketing”? That title may end up being rejected by Yahoo, in favor of thiner own version, but certainly this is not a matter of “ethics.” If we are going to use that standard for ethics then let’s call doctors unethical when they break standard procedures to help a patient. Or call TV networks unethical because Arrested Development runs for 29 minutes instead of 30!
We need to reserve the labels of ethical/unethical to businesses that seeks to defraud their clients, break laws and/or violate agreements, not those that are simply trying to provide a benefit to their clients without crossing the aforementioned lines.
Can you be an ethical “black-hat” SEO? Sure, as long as you fulfill any agreements you make to your clients AND the search engines and provide full-disclosure that your methods violate the search engine’s guidelines. Can a “white-hat” SEO be unethical? Absolutely.
In the future I think we would be doing the SEO community and clients a better service referring to black-hat techniques as opposed to “unethical” SEOs, unless of course the SEOs violate true business ethics.
Note: Pole Position Marketing does NOT employ any black-hat SEO techniques, follows all knowns search engine guidelines, and has NEVER gotten a client banned, blacklisted, or thrown out of a search engine.