Are you doing “ethical” SEO?
What does the word “ethical” really mean? According to Google definitions, ethics refers to:

The study of principles relating to right and wrong conduct; Morality; The standards that govern the conduct of a person, especially a member of a profession.

As far as I can understand, ethics mainly relates to morality. It is a code of conduct relating to other people. Does it not sounds a little off when SEO services, which are trying to manipulate search engine algorithms say they are “ethical”?
Now, there is nothing wrong with helping your clients out with their rankings and increasing their business, but at least do not use the word “ethics”.
I conducted a Google search for “ethical SEO company” and this is what I found.
Most of the SEO companies using the “ethics” hook try to increase their business using a totally different approach. They give the impression that all the other SEO companies are being “unethical” and that the client has a lot to lose if he/she goes with the “other” SEO companies.
They are the ones who tell their clients that other SEO companies will incur the wrath of Google because they do not “care” about the ranking algorithm enough to not spam or manipulate it. What a baseless argument.
I find this point-of-view quite interesting and disturbing at the same time.
According to me, SEO practices can characterized as being effective or ineffective.  Sure, best SEO practices need to follow the Google’s guidelines, but I do not think this is enough of a reason to use the word “ethics” to differentiate between SEO services.
Here are 3 reasons why I think “ethical” SEO companies are misleading:
1. They are still manipulating search engine algorithms: Every single SEO company out there manipulates the algorithms to different levels or it would not exist. Sure, there are some SEO companies which are totally white-hat, but most others fall within the grey-hat SEO.
Directory submissions, article submissions, blog commenting and on-site SEO are done for the sole purpose to give a website an edge in the rankings, even if the website mostly does not deserve the high ranking because the website design and content scream “worthless”.
How can you call these practices ethical?
2. They give the customers the wrong impression: By suggesting that they are ethical, they imply that other SEO companies are unethical and should be burnt to the ground. If you “really” want to go with Google’s guidelines, you should never artificially manipulate rankings.
Google frowns on ALL kind of manipulations because it stops Google from returning relevant results.
What is even more interesting is that they offer the same services as “unethical” SEO companies. Do you see how this seems wrong?
3. The “ethics” hook is simply unwarranted: An SEO’s job is to help the clients reach the top rankings and increase their online exposure. This goal is reached by tweaking the website to gain favourability from search engine’s algorithms.
The point is, the entity being “manipulated” is an algorithm, not a human.
You would call a marketing campaign which sells crap to people for high prices unethical. But its not the same when you manipulate a machine.
SEO services should be characterized by their effectiveness. They can also be divided into black hat, white hat or grey hat.
So next time when you see an ethical SEO company, always know that ethics and SEO are unrelated (for the most part). Ask the ethical SEO services how they are different from “unethical” SEO services and wait for them to give you a convincing answer.
Different point-of-view? We would love to hear it!