Why avoiding unethical marketing is in your best interests

Marketing is the job that’s never done. There are always new campaigns to plan and launch. New tactics to master and roll out. And new targets to chase down and beat. The pressure that comes with delivering a return on your marketing spend can be intense. So it’s no wonder that some marketers succumb to the temptation and venture to the dark side in search of more leads, an advantage over the competition or a shortcut to success. Ethics are rarely black and white. There’s spectrum. A fair bit of grey. What’s unethical to one marketer might be accepted practice to another. Niles Crane got a nose bleed whenever he betrayed his ethics. But if you don’t have a similar physical response to help keep you in line, hopefully this post will help. We’ve pulled together some great examples of unethical marketing. The idea here is to highlight some of the different ways marketers can slide right through the grey and into the black when it comes to ethics. We’ll also look at the potential consequences and takeaways. Unethical Marketing Example #1: Engaging in blackhat SEO Blackhat SEO is a broad term used to describe tactics designed to trick Google’s search algorithm. The aim is to get pages returned higher in search results than they deserve. Here are some common blackhat SEO tactics from the wild west years of search: Hiding spammy text stuffed full of keywords so only search engines see it Paying for links to important pages on your site Using blog comments or forums to plant links back to your site Jamming keywords into title tags, alt tags and other bits of the page Google looks at Using clickbait headlines that bear no relation to the content on your page For the most part, Google’s algorithm is too smart for these tactics nowadays. But it’s not surprising that marketers dabble in ethically-questionable SEO activities. Google’s search algorithm is a black box. Sure, there are plenty of guidelines and lots of free advice about best practice. But every marketer will have experienced their share of head-scratching moments when sites breaking all the rules rank #1. Or sites doing everything right rank nowhere. And it’s not as if you can call customer support. So, what are the consequences of engaging in blackhat SEO? It could be ranking #1 for your target keywords. But usually success with blackhat tactics is short-lived and comes at a price. If you get a manual penalty you could find your pages pushed so far down the search results that nobody will see them. If you rely on Google for a significant share of your traffic that could be catastrophic. One famous example occurred back in 2006, when Google gave BMW what some called a “death penalty” by completely removing the car giant’s German site from it’s index. BMW.de had been using redirects to send users to different pages to the ones Google had indexed and returned in search results. This is what Google’s […]

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