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Ethics in Search Engine Optimization

I’m feeling a little behind with my post here, but I just want to say what a great class Monday was! Unfortunately, co-op interviews kept me from Wednesday’s class but by reading the posts, it also seemed just as thought provoking.

Calum Nairn has to be one of the best speakers we’ve had this term. He seems to very much enjoy what he does for a living. I always love watching or listening to people who are passionate about what they do. It gets me very excited about the subject too. I guess that goes back to the Passion post from Managing the Gray I talked about before. Passion is certainly contagious and I think I caught it from Nairn.

I was trying to think of a way to sum up everything he showed us in this post but I don’t think that is possible. Thinking back it’s hard to figure out how he was able to fit everything in the hour and a half he had with us!

One of the more prevalent topics that sticks out to me is about search engine optimization (SEO). That he is able to keep his sites at the top of the Google search is quite an incredible feat. I feel very privileged to have such information now. It kind of makes me wonder though: who else knows this and who else is controlling the information that we receive when we naively Google something on the internet? It may be silly of me but I always thought that the top of the search results meant that it was the most credible source or the most viewed or something along those lines. I will view my results with a little more caution from now on.

Having this knowledge and let’s say “power” that’s associated with SEO is a little troublesome. It’s kind of like, is it ethically right to skew these results to make my organization be number one? Does it make it right knowing other people in similar organizations will do it too? As much as I would want my site to be popular based on merit is it wrong to use SEO to achieve my own agenda?

To answer these questions of course I had to do a Google search. Interestingly enough there is a Code of Ethics for Search Engine Optimization. Please take a look!  Once again I naively chose the first option but hey- it works!

What are your thoughts about ethics and search engine optimization? Do tell.

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June 15, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , | 3 Comments

(SEO)ver-rated?

There’s a lot more to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) than meets the eye. Google and other popular online search engines prioritize search results on the basis of several criteria. These criteria include whether or not a website has a user’s search terms in its title, slogan, text body and keywords; how often the search term appears within the website; and whether or not an organization pays to have its site bumped to the top of the results list.

This makes it very easy for organizations to promote their websites with a few simple SEO tricks. Through Google Analytics and other statistical tools of the like, organizations can determine what terms users search most frequently, then include those terms somewhere (or everywhere) on their website.

Organizations could even include the hot search terms in invisible text, thus bumping its website even higher up the search results list, and under the Googler’s cursor before other websites.

But is all this SEO action benefitting the Googler?

Those searching for “best quality cupcakes” truly want to find the best quality cupcakes possible. If an internet-savvy cupcake company with mediocre cupcakes is including the search terms “best”, “quality” and “cupcakes” repeatedly on their website, then Googers will find their website first. With the level of trust that many internet users place in Google and their go-to search engines, it’s likely that they’ll trust their search engine to find them the website for the best quality cupcakes. Little do they know, they won’t be finding the best quality cupcakes any time soon—just the best quality SEO. (Which is not nearly as tasty under a blanket of vanilla frosting and sugary sprinkles.)
I guess it’s up to consumers to look closely at the websites their search engine retrieves for them, to determine if it’s really what they want. But in today’s fast-paced web-based world, I worry that many consumers won’t take the time to look past the first three websites that Google populates.

June 10, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment