SEO is about changing aspects of your website so that it ranks better in the SERPs (search engine results pages). The techniques involved in SEO have been devised over a period of years, using trial and error, analysing other successful websites and listening when the search engines reveal information.
SEO techniques are always changing as the search engines change their algorithms, yet some of the basic principles of SEO will always remain the same, whether they’re ethical white hat methods, or black hat methods.
But some people still aren’t sure whether SEO is ethical at all. Is the practice of performing SEO on your website, by its very nature, against the terms and conditions of Google? If it’s not, why does Google ask you whether you’ve had an SEO company work on your website when you come to submit a reconsideration request in Webmaster Tools after your site has been penalised?
That is a good question. Google asks that because a great many SEO companies do engage in unethical black hat methods, methods that could be the reason for your website to be banned from the index. However, SEO by its very nature isn’t unethical. All SEO is really about is making your website easier for the search engines to index, and making your website more obvious about its nature, allowing the search engines to categorise your website easier.
Without SEO your website could be an unreadable book to the search engines. Google may not be able to tell what your website is supposed to be about, which means you won’t receive any relevant Google traffic. SEO allows your website to notify Google what it’s all about, without trying to con Google into artificially improving your rankings.
SEO is ethical, but only when performed correctly.