Ethical search engine optimisation gone wrong

Chris Heilmann’s article Ethical search engine optimisation my foot! is a story of what can happen when a client brings in an SEO consultant to improve search engine rankings.

While the changes to the site the SEO consultant requested may well have improved search engine rankings, they also hurt usability and accessibility. And this was a so-called ethical SEO consultant.

I suppose I’m lucky, but I’ve been able to talk most of our clients out of using SEO consultants, despite the aggressive marketing they use and the excessive media coverage some of them are getting.

Posted on October 30, 2005 in Quicklinks, Search Engine Optimisation


  1. I’ve seen “SEO gone wrong” first hand and let me tell you, when your multi–million-dollar client gets blacklisted from Google, people start losing their jobs. Even if the client wanted those practices, and the SEO could be considered at worst as “grey”.

  2. Tell me about it…;(
    I spent some hours last winter adding real “breadcrums like” titles for all (static) pages in a client’s website. A while ago they hired a SEO consultant here in Göteborg and the first thing they did was to batch-change(!?) all titles into something like:

    We really have the coolest and best looking products for you when it comes to brand A, B and C

    Yet another case of “SEO kills usability” ;(

  3. SEO? No such thing, only Search Engine un-optimization.

  4. Three-quarters of all SEO consultants follow snake oil doctrines; or, worse.

    My experience shows that 90% of all site owners dont know anything about optimization except that they need it, “Rankings are important!”

    Large eCommerce companies don’t know; small I-just-want-my-site-to-be-found-in-Borneo companies don’t know.

    And, in my experience, 90% of all site owners don’t see why they need web standards, “Sites are sites.”

    Inept SEO companies are similar to web design companies offering custom sites with twenty search optimized pages all for the remarkable price of $200 (except that bad off-the-shelf template designs don’t get sites blacklisted).

    Sites that are standards-based with valid (HTML/CSS) pages, meet usability conventions and accessibility guidelines are fundamentally optimized.

    How does a site owner uneducated-in-the-ways-of-SEO-Hoodoo know which is an “ethical” or “snake oil” SEO consultancy based on search results? They don’t.

    It’s a paradoxical caveat emptor, isn’t it.

  5. Another great way to spend money and achieve nothing is with internet listing services. I received a letter today from a company in London who wanted £47.50 to submit my domain to 20 major search engines, 8 keyword/phrase listings and quarterly reports.

    My foot!

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