Ethical and non-ethical search engine optimization

Ethical search engine optimization

Ethics is human-like quality. It is a character or quality, which distinguishes between what is morally right and what is wrong. SEO or search engine optimization refers to the art and science of increasing the number of visitors to a particular site by gaining higher rankings in Internet search results.

But how can we be ethical in the process of search engine optimization? To be ethical, one must first have knowledge of search engine optimization. You have to be very familiar with Google guidelines in order to know what is considered good or bad. You have to know most of the practices in order to distinguish what is white hat, gray hat and what is black hat SEO.

Are there any Google laws that we can break?

There are no laws in Search Engine Optimization but there are different guidelines for different search engines. Most of us optimize for Google, so for the sake of making this article easy for understanding we will stick to Google as our main search engine.

Google’s guidelines are clear and can be found on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

What is the definition of ethical search engine optimization?

An ethical SEO is one that will not be harmful to the user, the search engine, or the publisher. “Do no harm” is a good definition of an ethical SEO approach. An ethical search engine optimization makes sure that the site that is being optimized is useful and offers genuine information to the users. It doesn’t want to mislead users in any way. An ethical search engine optimization also does not want to take advantage of the search engine ranking algorithms that are being used by a search engine. All of these types of practices can be found in White Hat SEO.

What is White Hat SEO?

Following the guidelines strictly will place you in the white hat part of the SEO community. White hat SEO is considered ethical SEO. However, you have to spend more effort and time complying with the guidelines of Google. If you are an experienced SEO you know that it is not only time-consuming but also very hard not to commit even a little mistake that will cause you to fall into gray hat or black hat part of SEO community.

What does it mean to be unethical in search engine optimization?

The generally accepted definition of unethical SEO is using unethical techniques for achievement of a competitive advantage or to gain some monetary benefit. It is all about gaining high search engine ranking in an underhanded way. It’s doing something that is against the guidelines of Google. All of these unethical practices can be found in Gray and Black hat SEO.

So what is Gray Hat SEO?

Gray hat SEO includes methods that are not strictly forbidden but not permitted either, in good ethical practices. It is a gray area or a gray hat as these practices are used by unethical players. Google does not like shades of gray but uses black and white to indicate good and bad.

Most of the SEOs fall into the gray hat section of SEO because they are either not familiar with all of Google’s guidelines or they want to rank their websites faster than it would take with white hat practices. Gray hat SEO is most likely against Google guidelines but it is not always true. Sometimes gray hat SEO can be used in order to pass a penalty, at least for a while. Using gray hat to beat penalties will be discussed below.

Gray hat SEO is also important for improving Google’s guidelines. Why? Because people find ways to go around them and to trick Google’s algorithms. When Google sees this, they try to make algorithm changes that will prevent these methods from working. If 100 people are doing something, it is not against the rules. However, if 1 million people are doing the same thing, then it is against the rules.

What is Black hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is any SEO practice that is against the guidelines of Google but it has been proven to work. At least for a short while. When we say “against the guidelines”, it does not mean that such practice will definitely get you into Google’s Black Hat.

Black hat SEO is the fastest way of ranking a website, however; such fast ranking will not last long. If you are not experienced enough to beat the Google’s anti-black-hat efforts, then you can wait till it is too late when your website will start to be penalized.

What does it mean to get penalized? The term “penalty” refers to a hiding of your website in Google’s search results because it does not comply with the guidelines of Google.

The penalty can be temporary or permanent. When it is temporary, it is called “soft penalty.” It means that your website will get to the top of the Google’s search results but after a certain period of time you will start to notice that your ranking will be destroyed.


Search engine optimization is all about getting desired traffic to your website through search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. In order to get that traffic tho you will need to serve some valuable information to the users that are searching it. This is where ethical SEO comes in play. By following the guidelines of Google with the help of White Hat SEO you will be able to get traffic that will last for long. If you try to go around the guidelines of Google then you will hit the penalty wall that will cause you to lose your rankings in search results. This is why you should always be honest and comply with the rules. Be ethical!

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