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Old 04-03-2008   #1
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Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Okay this is getting mentioned all over the place. Chris Boggs and I have written and commented about the situation and have gotten some flak.

Anyone else want to weigh in? Jill? Lisa? Et Al....

Lively topics right now all opinions are wanted.
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Old 04-04-2008   #2
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Well, let's get down to the very basics. There can't be standards for search engine optimization folks unless there's standards for search engines.

Very likely not.

SEO is a reactive profession; as long as the SEs keep moving the various bars up, down and sideways, SEOs will continue to react to the changes and exploit whatever the SEs leave open. As long as the SEs change, SEO "standards" will change. (Of course, much of this is due to closing loopholes that open other loopholes that are then closed that open other...)

But there is room for ethics, for disclosing to the client the risks various techniques might entail. This is essential.

Ethics, yes. Standards? Much too much of a moving target.
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Old 04-04-2008   #3
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

There is a need for sure, especially internationally! SEM/SEO has different meanings and represents different ideals depending on your location. As for how to create, implement and police standards, I'm not sure it's currently possible. International law could also be an issue, what a country made SEM standards illegal? I just see industry standards being a difficult road.
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Old 04-04-2008   #4
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

I do think their is a need.
It would stop a lot of the newbies making basic mistakes and help people who think they are doing good when in fact they aren't.

It would also clarify a lot of the grey areas as well.

How many questions do we get over JavaScript re-directs?
People think these are good until they are told otherwise.

The industry is not young any more and a lot of people coming in weren't around when these where deamed bad, I'm 1 of them. A newbie not knowing any better will just think these are fine to be used.

Standards don't mean you cant beak them, in this case they just give you a guide to follow. You still have free will to do what you want.

Will this stop spammers breaking the rules - no.
Will this turn white hats into spammers - no.
This will just sets the borders to where you stand and the risks you are willing to take.

That said it will have to be careful not to make the spamming techquies well known as that will be detrimental to the entire industry.

But standards in coding have brought about sites that run faster, are cleaner, more easy to maintain and more accessible to the minorities on the web, people with disabilities. Standard compliant sites set the bar.

I don't think the point - well G wont support it is valid TBH.

Microsoft has never supported web standards even at their peak of 97% market share.

If you design your site to pure standards even today, IE6 will try to download the page and break the display, IE7 again will not display the page properly as it throws both into quirks mode.

Microsoft now will with IE8 due to some designers refusing to build thier sites to browsers that don't support standards. I'm not including you in that Aussie, your coding is still below par

But I will also agree with Jim bobs side, and quote Bue..
Quote:
As for how to create, implement and police standards, I'm not sure it's currently possible
There needs to be an impartial body similar to the W3C which can amend this over time. Standards now wont be the same standards in 5 or 10 years time. This body needs to come up with the first rules. The rules cant be made then the body is thought of. This will apply more weight to the new body and stop any separate standards from springing up.

A validtor to see if the site meets standards would be of great benefit as well. Similar to the W3C's HTML validator.

Jaz

Last edited by Jazajay : 04-05-2008 at 03:41 AM. Reason: Odd word here and there
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Old 04-04-2008   #5
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

I think even "standards" is a relative issue. There are a lot of angles to approach this and each angle has a multitude of problems by itself.

We all know that at the end of the day, there are only 2 parts to SEO: the website and links. Lots more to fill in-between, but that's really the formula.

From the Website angle: One angle you can approach is setting up standards for "basic" SEO - search engine friendliness, coding compliance, etc. But, as Jaz pointed out above, if you design a website to W3C standards, it is broken in IE. But you still need to because plenty of folks still use IE as standard default web browsers. So then do you force Microsoft to abandon their non-standards approach? (Magic 8 ball says not - Microsoft will not bend to the SEM industry's calls for standardization).

From the Links Angle: Another angle you can set up is . But the thing is that unless you are in a malicious webring or link farm, can you really regulate something like this? The cost of putting a website and letting people link to it and link from it is very low. For example, I'm a fan of trance DJs. I love to find them and hunt them down, download their mixes from their own websites, etc. These guys (and gals) form their own community - lots of DJ forums, webrings, back and forth linking, etc. They link (a lot of times) topically to one another. Can the standards accommodate this type of practice? And what if someone like myself- with a personal site and because I love them so much, I link to them. Will the standards accommodate my "fanhood"? Link building is very organic - how do you put a standard on that?

Standards are also predicated that there is an absolute. You can have standards in accounting because it is an absolute field. You can't have standards with "information relevance" because it is relative. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask - these engines do not have absolute standards. We talk about their algorithm formulas - which are their proprietary (corporate) secrets. So someway somehow there must be absolutes coming from the search engines.

As pointed out already, the standards in "ethics" may be the only real solution. Not standard "SEO" - but standard ethics. I personally have a problem with calling it "ethical". I mean, everyone's got a price. So-called "blackhat" practices work - there's just a caveat with it; namely, you can rank quickly then die a sudden death. But there are problems with standardizing ethics as well. Do you clear up gray areas? What are gray areas? And what about the SEO newbies who know nothing about SEO but say they do? Hosting companies, designers, fast-talkers? They could conceivably know enough SEO - but still have misconceptions. Would that violate ethics? Or how do we define ethics?

I mean, I see too much relativity with SEO and SEM. There's relativity with defining what SEO is - from the professional side. Relativity with defining SEO from the overall industry side. And (in my mind most importantly) relativity with defining what SEO is from the consumer side. The misconceptions consumers have about SEO is amazing. They range from total idiot to the near SEO expert. I have spoken to people who barely know how to use a computer to people who are totally belligerent and think that SEO (in fact insist they know that all you need to do) is: add words in meta tags.

So if we are talking about setting up standards, even in ethics - do the consumers even have a clue as to what that means?
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Old 04-04-2008   #6
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

There is a lot of buzz and that means that this is considered important, but I think that referring to industry wide standards would be difficult. The main reason that this would not be true standards is that the search engines have not enlisted consistency for standards that would work across the board.

We are dealing with three completely different set of rules that are not very transparent. When you look at the different verticals of search within the individual engines the complexity continues to grow exponentially.

I think that "best practices" could be written and adopted, however, "standards" are too specific.

Other concerns:
- If standards were set, this doesn't mean that they would be adopted
- There is no governing body, just the engines and they don't let us know what the stipulations really are for better performance

"Best Practices" are reasonably easy to understand by looking to valuable resources like SEW and others. Getting into something without having your eyes open or being sold a service... the risk is on client.

Do the research is my mantra. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
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Old 04-04-2008   #7
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

btw seopitfall has a nice post on the need for SEO standards.
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Old 04-04-2008   #8
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

I echo jimbeetle comment, “There can't be standards for search engine optimization folks unless there's standards for search engines.”

Plus SEOs agree? That is a joke. Ask a group of 20 SEOs to define link building in specifics. You will get 20 different answers across the board. Then half will change their mind to agree with whatever their favorite SEO superstar says. LOL

We could hire some lobbyist to influence opinions/votes!
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Old 04-04-2008   #9
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

I wonder if it's MORE valid than to say "standards" to say "This is what should NOT be done?"

Is there a way to say "Dont do this - it will get you banned."? Is it easier for us to know what the search engines "hate" vs. definitive facts on what they use to "rank sites well?"

I think we all have a pretty good idea of what the "bad stuff" is - while the "good stuff" is pretty subjective.

my .02

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Old 04-04-2008   #10
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Carrie we need to have it labeled something... standards works
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Old 04-04-2008   #11
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Hi Frank,

oh I agree "standards" is a good label - just theorizing out side of the box on how those might be developed

C
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Old 04-04-2008   #12
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

From the point of view of the PPC Advertising portion of the SEO/SEM "industry" - advertising standard-setting and self-regulation has been tackled and addressed effectively for many years. Some examples:

http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/about/short_guide/

http://www.advertisingstandardsburea...ages/index.asp

The Interactive Advertising Bureau has established standards for many aspects of online advertising:

http://www.iab.net/iab_products_and_...ices/1421/1443

Anyone want to team up to help the IAB complete the set with suggestions with online text ad standards, and maybe ethical guidelines?
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Old 04-04-2008   #13
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Hay Carrie
Quote:
"This is what should NOT be done?"
Now if you bring my point in.
Quote:
That said it will have to be careful not to make the spamming techniques well known as that will be detrimental to the entire industry.
It would have to be done carefully.
You don't want the list to get updated and all the small time black hats, which lets face it is most of them, say O yeah I didn't think of that.

I am in favor of it, but I think it needs to be done carefully and thought out well. But I agree I think the word standards has got/getting a lot of peoples backs up as they are looking at precedence from other industries and applying the same/similar criteria to this one when that doesn't have to be the case.

The words SEO/SEM standards needs to be properly defined as to what it means for this industry and this industry alone.

Jaza
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Old 04-04-2008   #14
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Hi Jaza,

What if we consider "what not to do" in terms of "this will get you banned and remove all SE traffic." Some people CHOOSE to operate their sites that way, and it's totally up to the
site-owner on whether they want to take that risk.

Having a list of "black hat" stuff could allow "mom and pop website owner" to compare what THEIR SEM company is doing against what is not acceptable to the "whitehat" community (and possibly search engines) at large. Then they can make the judgment - should they continue? Is it working? Or should I hire someone else?

Think of it sort of like the "rules" at home - your kids know what they are ABSOLUTELY NOT ALLOWED to do (blackhat bann-worthy spammy crap). They know what they ARE allowed to do (whitehat), and make variations on those allowances (grey-hat), but if they slide over to the THIS IS NOT ALLOWED (black hat) list -they have to live w/ the consequences.

Some pepole do very well without SE (ok - google) traffic.

As far as verbiage - Maybe we should start a movement to say SEO/SEM "Guidelines" or "Best Practices" as pittfall stated.

Wait a few weeks and start talking about "best practices" and see if everyone gets as tweaked out?

Just some thoughts - I honestly haven't made a judgment either way yet - not sure how i feel about it.
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Old 04-04-2008   #15
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Carrie, Aussie, Justilien or anyone care to have a stab at what you would define the term standards to mean. There is no right or wrong answer, within reason, but I think it would good to see what you personally term the phrase to mean.

Personally I class it as setting the boundaries.
You do this you will lose your rankings if caught.
Do this it is relatively safe.

It wont go into massive details about the way to do it, that way people don't have to worry about giving in their "secrets" just "guidelines" to how to do it.

For example -

Alt text -Informative alternative text used on images with the Search engines in mind - safe

Cloaking - giving content to search engines that differs from the content that the site visitor gets - chance of being penalized and losing you rankings
.

People can then decide based on the guideline if they are going to be breaking it or not. You can use the guideline as a base line if you like. White Hats can stick to the Base-line Black Hats can veer away from them.

But That way you are not getting descriptive on the use of the techquies it allows the brillent SEO's/SEM's, like myself, to remain clouded in magic but also allowing newbies to look at any techquies they use and say

Is that cloaking?
I guess so by that definition. Now what do I want to about it? As I now know the results of my actions.

Edit: Pretty much as you suggested while I was writing this Carrie. Great minds and all that.

Now bring in some nice page validator as I like my gadgets.

Jaza

Last edited by Jazajay : 04-05-2008 at 03:48 AM. Reason: Readability
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Old 04-04-2008   #16
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Hay carrie
I agree.
I personally think Standards is the right term I just think it needs to be defined as I stated above.
Sorry I'm good at anticipation

Jaza
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Old 04-04-2008   #17
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

For me its simple, let's start with helping the consumers understand the industry and what SEO can and cannot do. Once we have a better educated marketplace the need for standards to weed out the snake oil will diminish as they will get a lot less business.
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Old 04-04-2008   #18
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Known limits of actions obviously...... yeah okay tag I'm it.... but it is more stop the grifters
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Old 04-04-2008   #19
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by szetela View Post
Anyone want to team up to help the IAB complete the set with suggestions with online text ad standards, and maybe ethical guidelines?
I dont. I like my SEO/SEM to be the mix of marketing and technology the way it is. Guidelines need both tech and marketing - and I don't agree that it belongs anywhere with the IAB. They should want a piece of our pie, not us a piece of theirs.
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Old 04-04-2008   #20
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Re: Is There A Need For Standards: The Discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by cryptblade View Post
I dont. I like my SEO/SEM to be the mix of marketing and technology the way it is. Guidelines need both tech and marketing - and I don't agree that it belongs anywhere with the IAB. They should want a piece of our pie, not us a piece of theirs.


I would think that Dave really knows what he is talking about... could just be me.... tech really is not that deep into marketing... if anything the other way around

and in most cases if marketing is working IT gets a bigger budget!
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