I was recently approached by a fairly successful company (judging by their website's Alexa of about 2k) offering SEO software for sale. They identified me as one of the top SEO's who may like to test their software's latest features (well thanks for that compliment, I hope it's not the lie as the rest turned out to be).
Well to cut the long story short, I wasn't able to run the software at all (it has an installation for Windows which for some reason didn't work). Seeing how successful this company was selling this software and that they are selling a product that runs on my computer doing all sorts of SEO queries I asked them straight would I be violating Google TOS if I ran this software on my computer?
Google TOS section 5.3 says:
"You agree not to access (or attempt to access) any of the Services by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Google, unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Google. You specifically agree not to access (or attempt to access) any of the Services through any automated means (including use of scripts or web crawlers) and shall ensure that you comply with the instructions set out in any robots.txt file present on the Services."
To my surprise the company said that other tools do that as well, indirectly admitting that you would be infact violating Google TOS. When I pressed for an official statement they've given:
"Taking into account the very nature of SEO and the specifics of this niche, we consider the question to be inconsistent"
Apparently according to them you can't do SEO without using automated queries. I wonder what happened to all the on-site optimization, writing quality content, acquiring social media influence and so on?
What actually amazed me the most is that they were able to sell a product that makes the customers directly violate search engine giant's TOS, without even letting the user know about it before the (expensive) purchase.
And they are getting away with it, obviously selling thousands of licenses.
Now before I ask where is their conscience, I admit that Google is hardly a flower anymore, and that their moto "do no evil" is more like "do no evil, apparently". And everyone on Internet has been on at least of the edge of breaking the rules one or more times, it is a big jungle out there. But what is beyond me is how can one base a big, successful business on basically forcing their customers to perform illegal action every time they use their product, and get away with it? That certainly can't be true.
Well it's. Strange world it is.
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Posted in: SEO