I received a very well thought out and well-worded email asking me about whether what I thought that gaming Google was ethical. The reader had wanted to get into doing this, but was looking for a nice loophole to bypass his moral code. Oh how I understand.
When I first started with SEO, I was too obsessed with the process and the game to have any moral qualms. As I started earning comfortably however, I did begin pondering. I came up with a set of rules as to what I would allow myself to do, and what I wouldn’t. It is actually also good business, as it creates sites that tend not to violate Google’s guidelines.
Create value in content
This is the most important thing. When I send an article out, I ask the writer to forget everything she’s ever learned from writing for the internet in the past. I demand it to be written naturally, with zero effort put into keyword stuffing. The first priority is to always ask themselves what the searcher needs help with, and genuinely try to help them as much as is possible within 400 words. This includes linking to competitors. I tell them that having a passion for helping people is a prerequisite for the job.
Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not
I don’t buy domains that have brands in them for Adsense sites, even though this can be a terrific earner. If they are expired domains that were a brand, I will redevelop them but never claim to be the former brand. If the former brand still exists and wants the domain back, I will happily give it. I recently got a guy contacting one of my registrars because they accidentally let their domain slip – the first time so far out of 300+ domains.
In the last few weeks while writing this blog, I have given even more thought to the morality of the IM industry. I absolutely do not want to earn money from people chasing the dream, or just chasing shiny objects. This industry makes its cash from beginners – I want to turn this on its back and offer everything a beginner needs to get to earning 4 figures a month for free. Once they are there, I am comfortable with taking them the extra step to scale up, because really there aren’t that many other people out there that can do it.
Some people have asked me why I don’t flip sites. Well this is also a moral issue for me. As I have stated, one should expect their sites to earn for 6 months to be safe. It used to be a longer time-frame, but Google has been hard at work to make our work harder. I have had a total of two flippa auctions of my adsense sites. 1 of those 2 got hit by penguin. The guy who bought really had no idea how to recover, or what happened, so I felt bad and I just made him a brand new site targeting the same terms. It only sold for 8x its monthly income and then I developed a new site and had to deal with the stress of an unhappy client – it just wasn’t worth it. As a business, if you can sell for 20x multiples then that is some serious money! But can your soul take it? Are you really selling to people who know how to take your sites and triple their monthly income in 30 days? That’s the only way I can see a decent return, and I think 8/10 sales are to people just getting started that don’t really know what they’re getting into.
Selling expired domains on the other hand is a different story. It’s something I’d like to try further, or perhaps have a reader try and document, as I see real value in that for a long time to come.