I’d Do Anything For SEO But I Won’t Do THAT

Yes, there are some things that even I won’t do. Unfortunately, I have lowered myself to using Meatloaf (the singer, not the food product) as inspiration so I’ll have to check that one off the list…Joe Strummer is turning over in his grave.

In my line of work (link building), there are times when clients ask me to do some vaguely shifty things, as I’ve mentioned before. (Let me insert the disclaimer here of how I actually do warn the client about potential issues, before any of you start yelling at me about how I’m a moneygrubbing, unethical blight on the industry.) However, there honestly are some things that, when asked, even I will not do…the actuals aren’t important right now, but it’s interesting that there is still honor amongst thieves, so to speak.

*There are also times when we come up with something a bit dodgy on our own so I don’t want to try and blame the clients for all the shadiness that goes on.

As an admitted proponent of blackhat techniques at times (at times, for god’s sake), what exactly ARE my limits? I can’t even define them for myself always, but I do know that when something comes up and it makes me horribly uncomfortable, I simply won’t do it. However, obviously what makes me cringe might be fine for you, and vice versa (although the former is probably not as likely since I’m intensely immoral, so it seems.)

So really, what won’t I do? There are four things that are relevant, if I exclude the following three that are highly irrelevant (mathletic moment-note that they add up to lucky 7!):

1.Transport Dracula at night.
2.Eat a caramel apple along with a coconut, fennel, and mayonnaise sandwich.
3.Combine items 1 and 2.

1. Tattling
Turning competitors into Google for any reason is not something that I will do, since it would be hypocritical as hell for me to cast THAT stone. Yes, it would make my job easier to remove the guy ahead of me, but I would feel like I’d just kicked a one-legged kitten named Peg if I did that and I’d make Google’s job easier, something I am unwilling to do since they don’t pay me. Yahoo’s another story though. OK that’s a joke.

2. Stealing
I won’t tell my smallest client to give me more money even though I could probably get it. I don’t deserve it, as I think that I have a fair deal with him and I am abiding by the price that I gave him years ago, but the fact remains that he trusts me, and were I to tell him that I needed more, he’d probably do it. So think about that…if you’re sitting there judging me for saying that cloaking’s OK, for example, but you charge someone $5000 per month and you work all of 1 hour for him REALLY, who’s the bad seed now? Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I also don’t talk any client into spending more money than he or she can actually afford just so I can buy a new pair of boots. If they don’t need to spend more money, you won’t see me telling them that they do just so I can make an even bigger profit.

3. Lying
I once worked for an agency where we hid behind reporting for a long time because we simply could not properly service all of our clients. We sent out lovely and well-formatted bits of data that we’d grabbed from places where the clients weren’t overly likely to be lurking unless they happened to be a bit odd, while we basically did fuck all of value for the month. I will, however, still lie to my mother about many, many things.

4. Attacking
I will do a serious amount of trash talking about someone in person, but not in print. I’m not at all proud of the cursing that burst forth from my filthy sailor’s mouth a few days ago, in the office with my poor impressionable young link builders who have never heard such foul language or descriptions of what I wanted to do to a certain unnamed individual with my set of keys and a roll of duct tape, but I won’t do it on a blog post, I won’t do it on Twitter, and I won’t do it on Facebook. That reminds me, I really do need to apologize to the poor little cupcakes. I of course know that it’s very poor form to personally trash someone, verbally or not. I’m not going to stop, naturally, since it brings me great pleasure and I like cursing, but I’m not going to do it in any sort of medium that can be stored in a database and later brought up by someone else. That would be foolhardy.

So what won’t YOU do? Do you even know? It’s something to consider, especially if you’re one of those types who enjoys telling other people how horribly unethical they are. (If you’re that type, you were probably the girl freshman year who told me I was going to hell for listening to Sisters of Mercy, while you were banging the geometry teacher in his office after school. By the way if you’re that girl and you read this, stop freaking asking my mother how I’m doing like you give a damn you tramp. See? No names mentioned in writing!)

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14 Responses to “I’d Do Anything For SEO But I Won’t Do THAT”

  1. You left out cereal in item 2.

    Item 3 should have been “spend a weekend Branson, MO with the parents”.

  2. Julie Joyce says:

    Damn it! I knew I’d forget something. Yes, I refuse to eat cereal. It’s like something only farm animals should eat, out of a trough. Odd how I won’t eat cereal, yet I’ll knock someone down to get to a Chef Boyardee pizza. I love the Chef, even though he DOES wear a white hat…

    And yes, I’d never spend a weekend, or a single minute, in Branson with my parents, or anyone else’s parents, unless it was so I could meet my future in-laws, Pete Doherty’s mom and dad.

  3. Tony Spencer says:

    #1 Shouldn’t have to be stated. You’d think everyone gets this one. Unwritten BIG no-no.

    But the head of the most prominent SEO consultancy does it and did it to one of the most respected guys in search.

  4. Tony Spencer says:

    Crazy thing is that I thought that this SEO consultancy may have done it to throw a bone to the big Google but their latest big SEO tool launch is a big middle finger to GOOG so I’m unsure of the motivation

  5. Mr Happy says:

    I’ve never had a client who would fall for not doing the work and sending a nice design! Also I wont buy links – not out of some hellish need to bow at the Google altar just because the client suffers when they stop paying. The whole point of SEO is long term, on going benefit – battering their site with paid links a short cut seems a bit beyond the pale.

  6. Goes without saying but after being in a panel with Donkey I’ll also put it in writing:

    I’d never hack a site. That’s always been my ethical limit.

    Other than that – no comment.

  7. Julie Joyce says:

    Tony, do you mean #1 as in transporting Dracula at night, or #1 as in turning in a competitor?

  8. Tony Spencer says:


  9. Your evilgreenmonkey-references-per-post ratio is decreasing, are you unhappy with your current service? Is there anything I can do to help you continue your usage of evilgreenmonkey? evilgreenmonkey, evilgreenmonkey.

  10. Robert says:

    hahahaha… I love point #1

    Vampira on the other hand… well… :)

    What wouldn’t I do. Mmmm… I guess I agree that I won’t tattle, no real point there. If you weed out the bad apples eventually you’re the only one left. Besides agreed, it’s Google’s Job.

    I guess the one thing that I won’t do, is be unfair. Give the clients the best that you can, don’t over charge and let them know risks if you’re doing anything a little shady (on request).

  11. Julie Joyce says:

    Monkey, I do not exist to service you. Wait…that sounds bad.

    Robert (the good Robert), I agree with the unfairness angle. I could have simply said that and saved myself most of the post actually…damn it.

  12. vsloathe says:

    There’s little I will not do for a client, provided he understands the risks and the money is right. If we cannot get past a particular competitor in the SERPs and I have to make that competitor’s site drop from the index, so be it.

    Google has tried to impose its own webmaster guidelines on my profession as a sort of “ethical code”. People need to realize that Google’s webmaster guidelines exist for one reason and one reason alone: to make Google’s job easier, which in turn makes Google more money.

    Google’s just a business. If following their rules does not bode well for my business, I will show them where they can put their rules. Plain and simple.

  13. Julie Joyce says:

    Yeah I like the “money is right” bit…ha!

    And well said, all of your points. I agree with you.

  14. John D says:

    Joe Strummer, huh? Respect!

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