What is Ethical SEO – A Letter to a Client from a Loving SEO Consultant


Hey great SEO client,

I’m writing this letter to help you understand how ethical SEO looks like, what you need to avoid and how to get maximum for your investment.

But first, let me tell you a story. 

A few years ago I was misdiagnosed with a serious condition – insulin resistance. I remember when I heard the doctor saying I had this condition, I felt really frightened. I didn’t know a lot about it at that point, I just knew it was really hard for me to lose weight, even though I was eating healthily and exercising regularly, I also had some other indicators and family history typical for people suffering from insulin resistance.

The next day I started to look for the information online. And the more I read, the more I understood that I couldn’t possibly have this condition! That just couldn’t be right! I was checking my test results and looking for the formula doctors use to calculate indices… and finally, I saw the answer! The doctor misread the results and used the wrong units for the formula. I re-calculated everything myself.

Good news: I didn’t suffer from insulin resistance. Bad news: I was frightened and started feeling really helpless. The doctor whose main responsibility is to help people didn’t even bother to double-check the results and her calculations. And she wasn’t an intern, she was an established professional! 

I hate situations when you as a customer need to dig deeper to make sure that the expert you hire really delivers what they promise. It just… very unfair and discouraging.

I feel that this also happens a lot in SEO. People just start questioning: does SEO really work? Will this person deliver the results?

Well, if you’re wondering about that, I have answers for you. And also questions that will help you make more educated decisions whether you need to hire this person/agency or not. I hope it helps you feel less insecure and more confident. 

Un(Ethical) SEO Services You Don’t Want to Pay For

The other day I came to fiverr to look for some design work. That’s actually what triggered this letter to you, to be fair.

When I found what I needed, I noticed the services section called ‘Technical SEO’. As I’m totally in love with this kind of SEO, I was curious to check out the offers there. What can I say? This category will take a special place on my shelf of “most disappointing things in my life”. 

Just a few examples (I don’t want to call names, so I didn’t make screenshots here): 

  • I Will Do 15,000 Backlinks Blaster From 5 Platforms To Your Website For Search Engine
  • I Will Submit And Promote One Of Your Url To 1200 Search Engines For Instant Backlinks
  • I Will Index Your Links In Google
  • I Will 250 Manually Blog Comment Unique Domain SEO Backlinks High
  • I Will Fix Google Search Console And Webmaster Tools Errors
  • I Will Fix All Your Google Search Console And Index Coverage Errors

Technical SEO? Really? I was so frustrated and disappointed. People sell these shitty offers for $5, clients buy them and then say ‘SEO doesn’t work”. You’re right, this doesn’t work. But this IS NOT SEO!

Here’s some truth you or your clients might need to hear:

  • You don’t need 10000000 low-quality links (or even 15000 links from 15 platforms) to build website authority. 
  • You don’t need to submit your website to search engines
  • You don’t need to have all the possible Google Search Console errors to be fixed.

With links, it may be pretty straight forward: if ANYONE can get these links, stay away from them! In the best-case scenario, they won’t move the needle. But in the worst-case scenario, your website can get penalized by Google! It means, no Google traffic and many months and money for the recovery. It’s just not worth it.

Fixing Google Search Console issues-type offers are different. They won’t hurt you and sometimes may even help but the latter is more like a possible by-product, not the aim of this offer.

Don’t get me wrong, GCS gives great insights and uncovers some important technical issues. But a good SEO should have a context, a good SEO should understand when and why errors should be fixed and how much impact it will have on the overall SEO success. That’s what ethical SEO is. 

Why you don’t need to worry about having ALL THE GSC errors fixed?

  • They sometimes are not reported correctly. The report will say that some of your pages are not mobile-friendly. But when you check it in the Google Mobile Friendliness tool, it’s flagged as mobile-friendly. Why does GSC misreports it? There are tons of possible reasons, but it doesn’t even matter.
  • Some errors do exist but just don’t need to be fixed! That’s OK to have a bunch of 404s because other websites linked to you with a wrong URL. That’s OK to have some pages excluded from Google index.

Get Rid of Your ‘SEO Expert’ or Agency if They Don’t Ask These Questions

Can a doctor diagnose you without even looking at your tests and asking questions about previous health conditions? It might be possible in some situations but it’s not effective. 

The same is applied to a website. A good SEO can give you valuable advice and direction to move to. But the way will be much more effective if they get to know your site and business better. 

A good SEO will ask you:

  • For access to your Google Search Console and Analytics. You will have to show the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff
  • The technology you’re using, content management system (even though one can quickly find this themselves 🙂 )
  • About your products and services to better understand what you’re looking for
  • Whether you have a content team and technical resources to implement the SEO recommendations 
  • What are the goals of your business. Which KPIs you are using to track them

These questions are vital. And if somebody doesn’t ask them or promises you to bring you to Google top 1 within a week, run away, don’t apologize.

I repeat:

IF SOMEBODY PROMISES YOU #1 RANKING, ESPECIALLY WITHIN A VERY SHORT TIMEFRAME, THEY ARE NOT THE RIGHT PEOPLE

Nobody can possibly guarantee you anything. Sorry, that’s how it works. But a good SEO can guarantee that they’ll do their best to help you succeed. 

How to Make Sure You’re Happy and Getting What You Need from Ethical SEO

An SEO process is a 2-way street, so in order to move quickly in the right SEO direction, you as a client, need to do a few things. They are so important that they are worth to be printed out on a poster and hang on the wall.

Ethical SEO: how to get maximum from your SEO

C

Collaborate. Honestly, you can’t just give your website to somebody and wait for results. The less you invest in the SEO process, especially at the beginning, the worse results you’re going to get. Tell more about your company, goals, website history.

Always keep an SEO in the loop if you’re making any changes to the website or are going to have new services/products coming up. Why should you notify your SEO person about that? Because they can help you to do things right off the bat rather than re-do things afterwards. And collaborating is cheaper for you, trust me.

  • Adding a new page – tell your SEO
  • Removing a page – tell your SEO
  • Thinking about website migration – tell your SEO
A&A

Ask and answer. You pay your SEO person money as they know the stuff. But that’s totally fine to also ask questions if you don’t understand something. A good SEO will be happy to explain their recommendations as well as guide you through them.

And you will also need to be ready to answer some follow-up questions about your business, implementation resources, etc. This will make collaboration much easier and more successful.

I

IMPLEMENT. This is huge (that’s why I used CAPS, see). 

There’s no point in buying yet another fitness program if you never followed the plans of the 10 previous ones – you won’t see any results!

The same happens when you ignore SEO recommendations sent your way. You need to improve the content, here’s how. You need to set up redirects, here is a map. But you never do it yet wait for the results. Doesn’t work like that. And it’s like a torture for a good SEO who tries to help you.

You might have a lack of resources, I totally get it. Talk about that with your SEO person, try to find ways and other vendors to implement the recommendations. Just don’t ignore them. Don’t ignore them. 

Final Thoughts 

Hey, an SEO client. I hope this post has helped to better understand SEOs and your overall vital role in SEO success. Now you know which services you don’t want to choose and how to get maximum from the good SEO.

Sincerely yours,
Kristina Azarenko

Want to talk to me or about my services? Contact me here.


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