When I first started working in the SEO industry I couldn’t understand why “outing” was such a big deal. In fact (like others in the industry) I felt the inability to talk openly prohibited our industry from growing and handling our reputation. However, back then I was naive and inexperienced. I have now seen the damage that “outing” can leave. And because of that I can’t keep my opinion on this issue quiet while having a clear conscious at the same time.
Before we get dirty with the details, I want to add a disclaimer: I have absolutely no relationship to any of the entities mentioned in this post. I do not have any relationship to any blog/link network or organized spammer.
By now I am sure that most of you have read about the demise of Build My Rank. When I first read that article, I felt sick (that is not a hyperbole). As an entrepreneur I can’t imagine what it must feel like to realize that in a matter of days your company is finished. I don’t want to get into the specifics over this incident, but it appears that Google’s moves against them were a result of a blog post and ensuing public debate that outed them as a link spammer.
Link spamming is not a viable strategy for SEO. Yes, you can see short term results, but by and large, these services aren’t for long term growth. Even though I think these services are a waste of money, I could care less if others use them, as long as they know the full risk involved. Many rave about lobster, but I like crab more, and that won’t stop me from having dinner with them.
But the problem with SEO outing isn’t just a difference of opinion on strategy. The problem with SEO outing is that no one assumes the full consequences of their actions. Let’s take the BMR incident as an example. How much money did they lose as a result of being outed? Do their employees have families? How many of their clients are now seeing revenue lost? How many SEO agencies contracted with them? And how many of their clients are affected? How many innocent business owners that don’t know the risk involved with these networks are now suffering? How many people are now on unemployment?
I mentioned in the beginning that I use to not understand why outing was so wrong. What changed my mind, is meeting client after client that has suffered bad SEO advice and has seen a substantial loss. Outing, only exacerbates this process by raising the level of risk.
When people engage in questionable SEO practices they are taking a risk. Many of them know the risk they are taking, but many of them don’t. Either way, it’s no one’s place to make that risk even greater. If your paycheck doesn’t say “Google” on it, it’s not your job to police the web.
So then what is your job? Your job is to keep a high standard for yourself. Your job is to keep a high standard for those you do business with. Your job is to continue educating the public on what good SEO looks like. That is how we build a better industry. That is how we build a better community. That is how we build a better web. Outing does none of that. What outing does do is create dramatic blog post that allows for the author to take a moral high ground while potentially ruining innocent people’s livelihoods. It makes me sick.