Is it becoming increasingly more common for people to refer to blackhat SEO as unethical. In fact, some people actually will come out and tell you that it is unethical. But is it?
It depends on how you define unethical. Traditionally, unethical is a word that refers to an act that is immoral or that breaks trust with other members of a profession. Dishonesty, fraud, misrepresentation, these are things that are unethical no matter what kind of business you are in. But does that describe blackhat SEO?
Blackhat SEO or search engine optimization is a term used to describe the practice of using techniques to rank pages that are not approved by the search engines. It is most often used to describe behavior that is not approved by Google. But is it unethical? What if you use a method of link building not approved by Google to get your site ranked for keywords that are important for that site. For instance, you sell swimsuits and you use unapproved methods to get your swimsuit site ranked for the term “swimsuits”. Well, you’re not defrauding anyone. You’re not being dishonest. You’re just not following Google’s rules. That’s not really unethical. (but I don’t recommend this approach!)…side note, I am a white hat SEO and I always recommend closely following Google’s webmaster guidelines:
On the other hand, if you use blackhat SEO techniques to get your site ranked for the key phrase “makes money” then that is dishonest. Your site isn’t about making money. It’s about swimsuits. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Now I’m not saying you should go out and start using blackhat SEO techniques. If you do and Google finds out then you may meet with a penalty – getting de-listed or drop in the SERPs. If you can risk that and want to, fine. Do as you please. But if that is a risk you don’t want to assume then I wouldn’t advise using blackhat SEO techniques. Even if you do, it isn’t necessarily unethical, but I personally do no recommend that approach.
Everything you do in life has consequences. Good and bad. You have to weigh the consequences for all of your actions. That includes Internet marketing. If you use blackhat SEO techniques and get caught then you’ll suffer the consequences. Just because something has negative consequences and is frowned upon by the powerful doesn’t mean it’s unethical. Google has a right to define the rules for their site and you have a right to define the rules for yours.