Monday, July 11, 2011

Five Rules for Ethical Search Engine Optimization

Or we can believe in ourselves. By chance, it might turn out we are real.
—Jaron Lanier, You Are not a Gadget

Okay, I’m pretty fed up with agencies and shady "entrepreneurs" leaving nonsense comments on my blog with links to their homepages just to boost their Google ranking. Please allow me to make a plea for ethical search engine optimization (SEO) by jotting down a handful of tips:

1.- If you are going to leave a comment on a blog, make sure you read the post in question and that your comment actually adds some value to the conversation.

2.- Restrict any hyperlink to the links on your profile. Don’t include hyperlinks to your website in the text of your comment. A Google profile or OpenID allows your name or your nickname to contain an automatic link to your home page.

3.- Do not sneakily slip in a link under a couple of lucrative search terms inside your comment. It looks cheap and contrived and just adds to the humongous garbage island of useless Web data. If you do that on my blog, your immortal words go straight into the spam folder.

4.- Avoid anonymity at all costs if you are leaving the comment partly for SEO purposes. Unsigned messages with no accompanying email address but a link to some shark-fin website are tacky. It’s unlikely that I’ll approve a link to your website if you don’t even have the decency to act like a human being by claiming ownership of a face, name or address. I do allow some visitors to leave comments with vague IDs, because sometimes it is obvious from the context that they are employees of certain companies and either 1) fear retribution or 2) don’t want outspoken opinions to be associated with their employers. However, most comments I reject as spammy clearly do not fall into either category.

5.- Create your own content. If you really want your website to rocket up the search engine rankings, the most ethical thing to do is to write your own stuff. Let the marketplace of ideas decide on the value of your content. Do not harm your corporate image by piggybacking lazily on the freelancers and entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the daily dose of extra work of writing their blogs. Or if creativity is not your thing, buy an Adword or offer to pay for links, for the love of Jah. Or better yet, hire advertising space on translation blogs. I don’t accept such requests, but I’m sure a fair payment would be accepted by many freelancers.

In conclusion, cheapo SEO tactics are used by cheapo companies. And on the Web, the side of the cheapo/non-cheapo dichotomy in which you fall is quickly discernible with a few simple clicks. It is far better to add value to the human Internet than to generate more senseless, dehumanized noise.

Miguel Llorens is a freelance financial translator based in Madrid who works from Spanish into English. He is specialized in equity research, economics, accounting, and investment strategy. To contact him, visit his website and write to the address listed there. Feel free to join his LinkedIn network or to follow him on Twitter.


Kevin Lossner said...

Miguel, I'm so tempted to steal your words verbatim. I've had a draft post on this topic in the works for a while, because this sort of thing annoys me a great deal. Spot on with every point.

Financial Translator said...

Steal freely or publish your own draft post. I wrote the post because there is a gray category that isn't detected by the spam programs. Mostly, it consists are spam left by real translation agencies and companies that only make a feeble attempt at looking like a real message.

Kevin Lossner said...

Yes, I know. With me, it's often Pakistani agencies who pull this, though Rosetta in the UK has also emerged as a perp on a few occasions. The others I have mercifully repressed from my mind.

Financial Translator said...

I'm pretty fed up with Rosetta too. Watch this space.