The Ethics of SEO | Challenging Google

An Editorial Opinion on the Ethics of  Black Hat and Grey Hat SEO

ethics of SEOIn answer to the question “Is it ethical to outsmart Google at their own game?”, an esteemed friend, colleague and SEO answered soundly,  “no”.

Perhaps we would be on more equal ground if I first better defined the term “black hat”. Maybe I mean “grey hat”  But the question itself contains no reference to black or grey.

So, I was inspired to say more in support of my own opposing answer to the same question.   This post is written with virtually no regard to on-page SEO rules.  I trust that Google’s new evaluation of on page quality will bring this to the attention of those who are interested in what I have to say, and of course it might be of no value at all to some.

Google’s noble motives

Anyway, I do not question Google’s noble motives to take down that which is truly of low quality. That actually needs to be done……somehow…..but how?

I’m not sure. When in that process of filtering out the scum, some number of legitimate hard working people are also impaired, is that really doing good for everyone? It’s sort of like agreeing with gun registration and thinking it is going to reduce criminal gun use (in my thought anyway).

What I call “black hat SEO” is in no way malicious or harmful to anyone.  Maybe I mean “grey hat SEO”

There are, indeed malicious schemes online which are designed to injure others.  We must all unite in opposition to malicious intent. But is ranking my high quality site well, because I have learned to understand Google’s set of randomly defined rules, injuring anyone?

Perhaps I am putting my self ahead of someone who is not willing to do the same thing.  But they may also choose to understand Google if they like, or they may choose to refrain from doing so under their own belief that they are carrying out their highest sense of  good. But is my act of responding intelligently for my own good a malicious act, resulting in damage or injury to someone? My purpose in life is to love and to injure no one.

In the same vain, is it unethical for me to be online and take advantage of the internet while a competitive business doesn’t take part in being online?  Is it then unethical because I am getting more business than he is, as a result of taking advantage of a system that was put in place for me to use? Of course, I understand you may see it differently, but I find challenging human authority to be a subject worthy of attention in today’s’ society.

Evil constantly tries to sneak its way into our lives, and it comes ALWAYS cloaked in the guise of goodness. And of course your definition of evil might be drawn across a different line in the sand than is mine. Recognition of ANY human authority before divine authority, I define as evil.

You cannot trade freedom for security

Some may say that you must give up some good in return for the gain of a greater good. I disagree and base my line of thinking on my interpretation of what was the Founding Father’s understanding of personal liberty.

Perhaps it is my libertarian philosophy shining through. I also interpret my libertarian philosophy to be based upon my full faith that there is only one legitimate authority, that He is not a human or a group of humans, and that my submission to the will of other human beings can only be a choice that I make as a fee-willed human being. 

That submission might be a good thing or it might be a bad thing, depending upon the objectives of the party with whom I am agreeing. And Google is not my authority.

Along a similar line of thinking, I also disagree that I must be subject to personal search to fly on an airplane. Who granted the TSA the authority to do that? It was not God, but a group of human beings. So, I question exactly who endowed Google with the most powerful authority on  earth to make a value judgment of my or your online contents.

God, not Google, is my authority

I do not believe it is God making the decision that Google is my one and only holy online quality authority.  It is merely a group of consenting human beings making that decision, and you and I have the free will to choose not to participate in submitting to it. God is my authority.  Are ethics of divine or of human origin? 

I do not recognize Google as an extension of divine authority, but as merely a group of human beings who are trying to implement their own highest conception of good. Even well meaning socialists do the same, but good human intention never equals goodness.

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photo credit: Patrick Q via photopin cc