CAAMP is fending off allegations it is has broken its own conduct rules with search engine optimization techniques deemed “unethical.”
The technique used by the association “is not unethical…because users are not misled or misdirected,” Jim Murphy, CAAMP president and CEO, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.
The association came under fire from brokers this week following an article in the September issue of its Mortgage Journal which details CAAMP’s rules on how members can and cannot use a competitor’s name to drive traffic to their websites.
In that same article, CAAMP also announced that it was negotiating a settlement agreement with one member whose Internet advertising was found to have violated those rules. However, some brokers reacted by saying the organization was in fact “breaking its own rules.”
One reader reported that an SEO keyword analysis of CAAMP’s own website revealed that the association is using the term Seneca (a Toronto-based college) to drive traffic to the CAAMP website. Seneca and CAAMP offer competing relicensing courses for Ontario brokers.
The reader provided the following link to a screen capture to prove the point: http://screencast.com/t/xNDn377JUftK
But Murphy told MortgageBrokerNews.ca that CAAMP’s use of what it calls “search term targeting” is not unethical and that problem only arises when the search results are altered to display information designed to mislead the user as to what site they will actually forwarded to in clicking on those search results.
“The discussion underlines the difference between search term targeting, dynamic keyword insertion and the improper use of any of these online tools,” said Murphy, in a written statement to MortgageBrokerNews.ca. ”However, search term targeting techniques which are designed to increase the frequency of search results for Brokerage A (even if the user searched for Brokerage B) are not unethical because the user is merely presented with a link to Brokerage A’s website as one option among the many search results, but is not misled or misdirected when selecting from among those results.”
The CAAMP president also provided an explanation for when dynamic keyword insertion can be considered to be in violation of the association’s code of conduct rules.
“If the link includes a name or trademark of Brokerage A, but actually directs the user to the website of Brokerage B,” said Murphy, “then this would be unethical because the user is being misled.”