Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine's natural or "organic" search results. It has been a huge buzzword among internet marketers for years since it can be the legitimate sources of mountains of traffic for your site and rank better. But does it really solve marketers problem after the relentless updates of search engine algorithms?
The problem for SEO arose since it was first "informally" introduced. in those early days, SEO was about abusing the system, tricking search engines to deliver more visitors to a site. As search engines mature, these strategies are now a question of etiquette and debates regarding what should and shouldn't be allowed.
Despite search engines have changed, and so as people's behavior on the web, there are still many marketers on the web that still follow the "abusing the system" strategy through ignorance and/or defiance.
Following ethical SEO will keep your reputation, your client, and search engines happy. This is because being ethical is just going to basic of natural approach.
The Search Engines' Guidelines
SEO is to make a site appeal more to search engines. And to make it appeal to them, obviously, SEO must follow the rules that they provide.
The guidelines are self-explanatory. As a summary, they include: the description of the types of content that search engines want to serve, technical recommendations, quality tips, how-to methods, and promotion techniques.
Webmaster guidelines are just the start of improvisation. By understanding the rules, you can then create the strategy that fits best for your website.
Focus On What Will Work
SEO does not have an all-in-one solution to create a good ranked website. There are a lot of techniques that different SEO professionals do. Breaking them down, the techniques fall into three categories: local, national, and international SEO.
Different SEO professionals may have different strategy. They may include some techniques that others don't, and vice versa. Since SEO doesn't have a manual that works on all website, it requires understanding and custom project plan.
An agency or consultant can fill billable hours with lots of SEO best practices. The ethical ones focus on the ones that will improve organic search traffic.
Ethical SEO will optimize a website's elements, attributes and keywords. These on-page SEO will benefit and becomes more effective if the site also spends its time on building its online authority, worthy contents and proper link building.
Ethical SEO is the one that focus on improving organic search traffic.
What You See is What You Get
The source of information that works with web browsers is usually an HTML document, but may also be a PDF, image, or some other type of content. The location of the resource is specified by the user using a URI (Uniform Resource Identifier). The way the browser displays HTML files is specified in the HTML and CSS specifications. These specifications are maintained by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).
However, there are ways to conceal something from visitor by a method SEO professionals call "cloaking". This is a trick that makes search engines see one thing while human users see another. By using this trick, websites can still have a nice clean layout, with sneaky SEO tricks unseen. Cloaking is definitely frowned upon search engines and should definitely be avoided.
Separate SEO From Non-SEO
Websites with great contents that are complemented by well-designed interface will appeal on the web a lot easier and faster than others. While SEO is behind all the codes behind the project, is web design part of it?
When Google announced that page speed is one of its ranking factor, many SEO professionals began selling page speed as part of SEO. Although Google made it clear that page speed can affect SEO, it does just by a small bit.
Computers and codes are the ones behind search engines. They are the "systems" that works with websites to include, or exclude websites on their result page. No matter how good a computer (servers loaded with codes programmed by teams of specialists and experts) is, it can't really appreciate design as good as web humans do. This fact highlights that design that affects SEO, isn't really part of SEO.
The ultimate goal of SEO is more visitors, conversions, sales, revenue, ROI, etc.. For ethical SEO, it is important to differentiate SEO aspects from non-SEO ones, and optimize them separately and accordingly.
Patience is a Virtue
Instant result is possible and isn't magic on the web. But what comes in real life also occur on the internet. If something wants to develop into a more mature form, it needs time. SEO can be fast, and there are ways to improve ranking with less to no hassle. But being ethical and following the guidelines that search engines have provide, instant result is not your aim.
SEO takes time, especially if you must catch up to older and more mature competitors who also optimize their websites for search engines. Organic and white hat SEO can take anywhere from weeks to months to create demonstrable results. It can sometimes be faster, or even longer. It depends on your resources and level of competition.
"All roads lead to Rome". The idiom means that there are many ways and different routes to achieve same goal. You may not need to work as hard as your competitor, but you need to work as hard as you can.
Respect Yourself and Others
The internet is a massive network that consists of networks. The 'web' as we call it, store millions of website, and it grows at an astonishing rate each day. The massive amount of information it holds is created by both humans and machines. They contribute to create endless flow of information that we can all access with a simple internet connection.
There was a time where the network is empty. The first page on the web was uploaded by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, was the only population that existed on what today we call the internet. Since then, the number of pages grew exponentially until the interconnecting nodes became a network and evolved to become the internet.
Today, millions of websites are online. When there is a new information that has never been uploaded, it won't take long before the same information is posted, shared, or recreated. For internet users, the repeating information can be annoying, but that describes the web: a place where anything is shared without boundaries in between.
Being ethical in SEO is to respect others' work. And to respect internet users and search engines, always try to share information that is original and unique of the highest quality.
Ethical SEO is all about quality and usability. Organic SEO is to aim for human visitor over search engines' bots. And if SEO is reducing the ease at which people can use the site, then it's counterproductive and reduces rather than increases the value of the site.
Since fundamental purpose for the existence of a ethical site is for humans, exploiting loopholes and constantly searching for that "one golden trick" that will bring you the traffic is an errand that ultimately hurts more than it helps.