The discussion of any SEO Code of Ethics is like a discussion on politics or religion: there are more than two sides, all sides are strongly opinionated, and seldom do they choose the same path to the same end. Most Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practitioners understand these ethics, yet not all practitioners practice safe-SEO. Too many SEO practitioners claim a bias towards surfers, or the search engines, or their clients (all are appropriate in the correct balance), and it is common for the “whatever it takes” excuse to bend some of these ethics to fit their needs. This page does not pass judgment, it simply states the obvious.
Whereas all parties are working towards presenting relevant and high-quality information in an easy to use format to information seekers, and whereas SEO practitioners are being contracted to assist clients in obtaining higher rankings for client pages, we (and those linking to this page) are voluntarily adhering to the below SEO Code of Ethics:
No SEO practitioner will intentionally do harm to a client. This involves the continued use of any technology or procedure (without appropriate care) that is known to result in having the client site removed from search engine indexes or directories, or rendered inoperative. Questionable adherence to standards must be addressed via the Robots Exclusion Standard.
No SEO practitioner will intentionally violate any specifically published and enforced rules of search engines or directories. Should rules and guidelines change (as they often do), the SEO practitioner will promptly take action to comply with the changes as they apply to all clients. Where rules and guidelines are unclear, the SEO practitioner will seek clarification and await approval from the appropriate search engine before continuing to utilize potentially harmful technology or procedures.
No SEO practitioner will intentionally mislead, harm, or offend a consumer. All individuals utilizing a search engine to visit a site will not be misled by the information presented to or by the search engine, or harmed or offended upon arrival at the client site. This includes techniques like “bait and switch” where the client page does not substantially contain and is not clearly associated with the optimized phrase, or may be reasonably offensive to targeted visitors.
No SEO practitioner will intentionally violate any laws. This involves the deliberate and continued violation of copyright, trademark, service mark, or laws related to spamming as they may exist at the state, federal, or international level.
No SEO practitioner will falsely represent the content of the client site. This includes the practice of presenting different versions of web pages to different users except where that information is altered solely to meet browser specifications and needs, sensitivity to regional factors such as language, or product specific needs. In general, ALL requests for a specific URL should be served identical HTML by the web server.
No SEO practitioner will falsely represent others work as their own. This includes the taking of work from others in whole or in part and representing this work as their own. The SEO practitioner may not make verbatim copies of the work of others (instead of authoring original work) without the prior consent of the other party.
No SEO practitioner will misrepresent their own abilities, education, training, standards of performance, certifications, trade group affiliations, technical inventory, or experiences to others. This includes quantifiable statements related to project timetables, performance history, company resources (staff, equipment, and proprietary products), and client lists. Guarantees will be restricted to items over which the SEO practitioner has significant and reasonable control.
No SEO practitioner will participate in a conflict of interest without prior notice to all parties involved. This includes the practice of choosing to emphasize one client over another in competing keywords because there is a more personal gain for the practitioner. All clients are treated equally and all will receive equal best effort in their Search Engine Optimization.
No SEO practitioner will set unreasonable client expectations. This includes the practice of accepting more than a reasonable number of clients competing for the same keywords and implying that all will be in the top positions in the search engines. This also includes the implication that results can be obtained in an unreasonable amount of time given the known condition of the search engines, client site, and competition.
All SEO practitioners will offer their clients both internal and external dispute resolution procedures. This includes the publishing of address and phone numbers on primary web pages, the inclusion of third-party dispute resolution links prominently placed within the practitioners’ website, and contracts that include sections discussing dispute resolution.
All SEO practitioners will protect the confidentiality and anonymity of their clients with regards to privileged information and items implying testimonial support for the SEO practitioner. All staff of SEO practitioner shall be bound to protect information that is not generally known as it may harm the client. The SEO practitioner will not include the publishing of testimonials and proprietary logos of client lists, press releases, and other collateral discussing the client without explicit approvals.
All SEO practitioners will work to their best ability to increase or retain the rankings of client sites. Clients are contracting for fee with the SEO practitioner in order to obtain and retain search engine placement. The SEO practitioner is charged with an obligation to utilize appropriate and allowed technology and methodologies to improve and retain the rankings for their clients in the face of shifting search engine technology, competition, and client website needs.