Your SEO Service, Honourable SEO, and Rival Monitoring


When a company undertakes the search engines optimization program, whether it is performed in-house or outsourced to an SEO service, most of the attention (and appropriately so) is focused on the company website. This is the one aspect where there is a feeling of control–once a website is released into the wild, the company will have to observe how its site prices against all of those other websites out there, whether the other sites are using honourable SEO tactics or not.

Apart from changes built to the company website, the premiss is often that the company and, if it is using one, its SEO service, has zero control over what boston seo appears in search results. However, this is not usually the case. Often, you or your SEO service can have an effect on search results by monitoring your competitors and canceling them to the major search engines when the SEO techniques suited for their site fall outside what is popularly referred to as honourable SEO. (Please note that while I believe that the word “ethical” is tossed around many times, “ethical SEO” is just about the standard phrase to describe white hat techniques, and therefore it is the phrase I take advantage of throughout the article. )

Primary Competitors

To begin with, let’s define competitors. Virtually every company has at least a handful of other programs that it considers to be primary competitors–the ones that sell the same services and products, that are of similar size, and so on. It is important that the SEO efforts (or lack thereof) of these competitors, whether or not they are using honourable SEO techniques or not, be administered on a routine basis. If they haven’t hired an SEO service of their own, or if they haven’t started doing SEO in-house at all, you will have peace of mind knowing that the use of this funnel, for the moment, is yours. If your competitors begin an SEO campaign, with or without an outside SEO service, you can learn much about their sales and marketing tactics by evaluating the search phrases that they target. And you can also investigate whether or not they are using honourable SEO practices in their campaign.

Your online Competitors

It’s important to bear in mind that it is unlikely that searchers are going to decide only between you and the primary competitors you have listed. They’re going to consider any organization that matches their particular needs and that shows up for their key phrase. This is why your criteria for a rival online should increase to cover any organization that provides products like yours that outranks you for many targeted search phrases. If your in-house staff or your SEO service not only continually monitors your search engine positions but also analyzes the companies that appear above you looking results, you can often identify forward-looking competitors which you’re previously unaware–your primary competitors of tomorrow.


This brings us to the key issue of honourable SEO. Search engine optimization is still a very new concept to the majority of companies. Even the most respected companies can make mistakes in this arena, either by choosing the wrong SEO service, or by trying to avoid hiring an SEO service altogether by bringing it internal with well-intentioned but unqualified people. For example, BMW’s German site was recently removed briefly from the Google listing for using entry pages–something that’s not considered an honourable SEO practice. It stands to reason that your competitors are also not immune to violations.

Bad Firms

There are very notable examples of otherwise smart and established companies hiring an SEO service that put them in a worse situation than before they went after SEO–by getting their site taken off major search engines for violating the engine’s terms of service, for example. Until recently, there was a well-publicized example where most of the clients of a Nevada SEO service were reprimanded. The vast majority of the clients claimed that they just weren’t informed that the firm was not practicing honourable SEO and that they were therefore in danger.

SEO firms are generally divided into two camps–those called “White Hats” (those that use honourable SEO practices and will never knowingly violate a search engine’s terms of service) and those called “Black Hats” (those that do not use honourable SEO practices and that will attempt to unravel the latest algorithms and exploit any loopholes to achieve rankings at any cost). Neither approach is invalid–it is not unlawful to violate the terms of service of the search engines. Moreover, black hat techniques can be quite effective. However, the tactics are risky, and anyone hiring an SEO service that would wear a black hat and does not use honourable SEO practices should truly be apprised of this risk up front.

Internal Resources

Firms are often lured to avoid hiring an SEO service by performing SEO in-house, and the project almost always falls onto an already overburdened IT department. The problem with approaching SEO from a strictly technical mindset is that the strategies employed, such as the search phrases targeted, will not necessarily be in line with the goals of the marketing and sales sectors. In addition, an IT resource will often approach SEO from a purely technical understanding, without thinking about honourable SEO practices, and this can lead to trouble. Penalization is a very real possibility, and it is hard to get back onto an listing once your site has been removed.


Good SEO service will monitor not only the handful of competitors that you regard as crucial but also the sites that appear higher than you for many chosen keyword phrases. This might be somewhat suspect, especially to any SEO service or webmaster that uses tactics a no-no by the search engines’ terms of service. However, many white hat SEO service firms contemplate it an obligation to their clients to routinely monitor the sites of any rival located on the motors to be sure it is using honourable SEO techniques.

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