Ethical SEO? How about just Effective

There seems to be something of a misguided argument/debate out there about how search engines can “make the world a better place” if they just do a little bit more for webmasters.

Why are people wound up about search engines doing something for them?

The search engines have already taken on a monumental task that serves to make life a little bit easier.It could probably be argued that we owe them more than we give now. To expect, even demand, more accountability, transparency, and on and on from the engines is a little bit ludicrous.

While I don’t believe the cynical voices that says all SEO/SEM is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, black magic, and luck, it is most definitely an inexact art. This is due mostly to the competition though, not to anything the engines do or don’t do.

The guidelines search engines readily provide are enough to design, develop, and improve sites. Not even so much for the engine, but to generally improve the site. The techniques that work, and are generally seen as “white hat” or “ethical” or “above board” (or whatever feel good term of the week you want to use), all serve to build a better site for a user.

I’m the first to tell you we’re not breaking any ground with that.

Build rich, MEANINGFUL, content. Design with clean navigation that can be rendered across several OS/Browser platforms. Keep load times down. Avoid taking technology (sex appeal, as in Flash, animated GIFs, giant home page images and image maps etc.) too far. Create relevant, TOPICAL, sections and articles for the site. Essentially become, at the very least, a micro-authority on your chosen topic (keywords) and you’ll be seen as such.

It’s time for the SEO/SEM industry to grow up if it wants to be taken seriously. The engines don’t need to, and aren’t going to, give you a road map. It’s about staying within guidelines, picking your spots, and providing an experience. Traditional advertisers can’t turn to media outlets and say, “gee, how can I make my ads better?”. All they get are guidelines – here’s how long it can be, here’s when it can run, here’s what it will cost you, you have to make a good ad if you want anything to happen with it.

There are far more important issues to focus on. So what that you can get a client all kinds of positions, or ranks, or placements, or whatever else you want to call them. What if all your tactics (of whatever bent they might be) get great spots on what turn out to be completely irrelevant terms? Help clients convert visitors. That’s why they’ve hired you, whether they realize it right off or not.

If all this recent ‘debating’ about methods comes down to having trouble getting/keeping clients, offer a worthwhile service.

Or go back to the drawing board.