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Old 08-12-2004   #21
dannysullivan
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Why on earth any business would need a "code of conduct" is beyond me, why not call it "stating the obvious", just simple common business sense. Let the law deal with that stuff.
That's in part what SEMPO thought when they started -- leave these type of issues to other authorities.

The problem was, a number of people starting getting upset that they weren't vetting members in someway. Anyone could be a member of SEMPO -- and since some people have strong views on what's "right" and "wrong" with SEO, it was seen that SEMPO simply was worthless without some type of code for members. It was this big huge thing hanging over the group.

Sure, they could ignore that. But it would still be embarrassing if one of your members ending up getting dinged by the law, as with this case that came out today: SEO Firm Ordered to Refund Fees, Pay Fine. So there is some incentive for them to think about this.

Now, an easy code could be that you can't be a member (or lose membership) if you are convicted of a crime by some local law enforcement agency. Fits in nicely with what your saying and helps protect the organization a bit, as well.

That's an easy code. But it may not satisfy all the critics of SEMPO in the past, who have said they want some type of code. That's all I'm trying to explore here, to get some measure of what it is people think the group should have members adhere to. And you've provided one good solution -- SEMPO could decide there are existing bodies that enforce codes of conduct, and they'll deal with members based on how those other bodies enforce.
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Old 08-12-2004   #22
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To simply brush things off is not a good thing.
If I were bushing you off, I wouldn't have spent all this time trying to elicit what type of vetting procedure you have in mind.

You seem to some type of new SEMPO (or really, it could be any organization) with the goal of promoting SEM itself (ironically, that's SEMPO's supposed mission as well).

In this new or reformed group, you still seem to have people joining. It will still have members. So you've got no problem with someone you'd consider a spammer or scammer joining? Because that's been in the past a big problem you've seemed to have with the group. A year ago you said:

Quote:
From what I understand, the group will not have any "Professional Standards" to adhere to, so it will be a bunch of people promoting themselves and the industry.
And...

Quote:
Most orgs I know of have some kind of standards involved in order to become a member. With no standards, how is this going to help the general public? Sure, you can promote the industry real easy, but again, how is that going to help joe website owner? Is he going to think that simply because a firm bought a link in this org that this firm is on the up and up?....Nope. I'll wait until there are best practice standards in place before buying a link.
And...

Quote:
I understand the need to promote our industry. What I don't understand, is the need to promote the scammers and spammers as well. Now that is something I will Never agree to no matter what the benefits are. I don't appreciate the fact that Joe web owner can go to the front page of sempo and see a list of "SEM Circle Members" and think this list is "The Bomb" of the SEM Industry. Don't you see a problem with this? I sure do. Besides, I can certainly benefit from "your" promotions of our industry by not doing anything. I'll never bow down to "peer" pressure no matter who you are. I have ethics.
And earlier this year:

Quote:
I just don't like ANY organization who claims to be 'selling' the industry to the consumer, that has spammers as members. If it was not for that fact, I'd join as well.
Doug, you've probably been the loudest voice screaming that this group needs to have some type of standards. Now all of a sudden, you've got a plan for a membership group that doesn't need standards or vetting. I'm unclear on how your new proposal will keep out the spammers you were so upset with earlier.

Last edited by dannysullivan : 08-12-2004 at 02:23 PM. Reason: I thought four uses of the word "envision" could be reduced, so I did!
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Old 08-12-2004   #23
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I believe you either manipulate the search engines for a living or you don't. The moment, the very second, you look at a title tag and think "I wonder if I put my keyword in there" you have crossed the line. You_are_a_spammer.
I share this mentality. Why? Google themselves, in their own IPO filing (paraphrasing here) declare us a threat to their business.

Folks, you can't argue with that. If you do then you are disagreeing with what Google has publicly stated and you should go read it in black and white. (Side note: Dont you think its strange that our industry is publicly labeled as a threat yet Google has their hands financially into our main events and organization?)

This is where SEMPO steps up to the plate and shouts to the world why we are a necessity for doing business over the web and why we should be looked at as legitimate business partners and not the guys in black trench coats who you have to meet in dark places. With journalists printing unfounded reputation bashing garbage and with Google themselves calling us a threat, we need that voice for EVERY SEM professional. Notice I didnt say SEMPO members. SEMPO is for all of us, members or not, and SEMPO is that way by default being, currently, the only quasi-organized group of SEM professionals who are getting press.

I know SEMPO can be a tremendous voice for our industry, they just need to get their house in order, and keep their eye on the ball.
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Old 08-12-2004   #24
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Doug, you've probably been the loudest voice screaming that this group needs to have some type of standards. Now all of a sudden, you've got a plan for a membership group that doesn't need standards or vetting. I'm unclear on how your new proposal will keep out the spammers you were so upset with earlier.
My plan will not keep out the spammers nor should it keep them out. The org I envision and how it's setup has NO need for vetting as NO members will be promoted.

The way sempo is right now, there "is" a need for vetting as they are clearly promoting their members and especially their board members.

My plan does NOT promote it's members. The mission should be to "promote the sem industry", not promote the sempo members. It can be done. Once you get into the realm of vetting, etc, you know longer are a group that is promoting the industry, but are simply promoting the members within the group. You cannot do that with the current setup of SEMPO.
 
Old 08-12-2004   #25
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Side note: Dont you think its strange that our industry is publicly labeled as a threat yet Google has their hands financially into our main events and organization?
I don't find it strange at all, not one bit. SEO for organic search and SEM for PPC are somewhat related, but IMHO not quite the same industry. There are people who don't know the slightest bit about SEO but are brilliant with PPC marketing and charge enormous fees to manage campagns.

It's not about them supporting SEO as such, SEO causes them problems and costs them a lot of money. It's about what brings them revenue, which is PPC. It's no different than manufacturers attending meetings to make contact with sales reps to carry their line of products. The SEMs are the sales reps, the agents for client spends on PPC.

It isn't love, it's good business on their part.
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Old 08-12-2004   #26
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My plan will not keep out the spammers nor should it keep them out. The org I envision and how it's setup has NO need for vetting as NO members will be promoted.
Here's where I'm confused. The list of things you put into this thread above seemed related to fixing the existing SEMPO. You've got things like calling the Circle Member links "sponsored," which certainly sounds like members would be promoted/listed/seen. You've still got a list of members actually being shown on the site. So it seems like individual members are still pretty visible.

I would love for you to start up a new thread -- I know, ugh -- but a new thread laying out how you would see the new/rebuilt group starting from scratch. Don't worry about the fixes you'd apply to the existing SEMPO. Just start fresh. Then it would be easier to examine this new proposal.
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Old 08-12-2004   #27
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Okay Danny. I will do that. There is another post I made on this issue in here so I will combine the two into something that is step by step. Give it a couple of days though.
 
Old 08-12-2004   #28
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SEO for organic search and SEM for PPC are somewhat related, but IMHO not quite the same industry.
The SEMPO site doesnt support that philosophy. SEMPO is for promotion and reputation management of all forms of search engine marketing whether it be through advertising or optimization. Of course SEO plays a part in our conferences and events. So my point still stands, Google has financial ties to our organisations and events that educate and promote SEO, which, as stated publicly by Google, is a threat to their business.

I couldnt imagine many of us getting behind and suporting SEMPO if SEMPO didnt promote and create a positive reputation for SEO and SEO professionals.

Things that make you go "Hmmmmmm..."
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Old 08-12-2004   #29
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Jeff Martin wrote:
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I share this mentality. Why? Google themselves, in their own IPO filing (paraphrasing here) declare us a threat to their business.

Folks, you can't argue with that. If you do then you are disagreeing with what Google has publicly stated and you should go read it in black and white. (Side note: Dont you think its strange that our industry is publicly labeled as a threat yet Google has their hands financially into our main events and organization?)
I have yet to see where Google has Ever said all SEO is bad for them. Please point it out to me exactly where it is. Here is what I have found so far on the subject:
Quote:
Google specifically calls out "index spammers" and link bombing as an "ongoing and increasing effort" that could harm its results. "If our efforts to combat these and other types of index spamming are unsuccessful, our reputation for delivering relevant information could be diminished. This could result in a decline in user traffic, which would damage our business," the filing says.
That can be found here:
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchd...le.php/3347471

Google also comments here:
http://www.google.com/webmasters/seo.html

snippet:
Quote:
SEO is an abbreviation for "search engine optimizer." Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted. However, there are a few unethical SEOs who have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to unfairly manipulate search engine results.
So please show me where they say "all" SEO's. I only find where they comment on Spammers and Unethical firms.
 
Old 08-12-2004   #30
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So please show me where they say "all" SEO's. I only find where they comment on Spammers and Unethical firms.
I think this is starting to get off topic and back into the "Im not a spamer", this is spam thats spam, etc. and away from SEMPO and our reputation. If you would like to dicuss further please send me a PM.
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Old 08-12-2004   #31
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Well Jeff; You are claiming that Google is stating something which I am asking you where that statement is. You brought up the Google thing. I simply posted the facts that I have found on various websites.

If Google is in fact stating they dislike all SEO's, then I want to know about it as then they are also Contributing to the bad reputation the industry has. That indeed 'does' pertain to this thread.

btw, if what you are saying is that all SEO's spam, then we have nothing else to discuss. Google specifically states that some SEO's do real good and others are Unethical and spam. If you are lumping all of us together, then no need to show me anything as you have a different view of what spam is and is not from I.

Last edited by ihelpyou : 08-12-2004 at 03:27 PM.
 
Old 08-12-2004   #32
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I hope this stops it.

From the Stanford Document Server

Taxonomy of Web Spam
Gyongyi, Zoltan; Garcia-Molina, Hector
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Old 08-12-2004   #33
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Originally Posted by dannysullivan
Here's where I'm confused
Having known Doug for a few years, let me try to interpret for you

Either SEMPO does not promote its members:
  • No explicit or implicit endorsement of members on the home page, the member Directory, or anywhere else on the site
  • No RFP procedure
  • Ads must be clearly labelled as ads
  • etc.

Or SEMPO polices its members:
  • Lays down standards
  • Verifies members against standards
  • Boots out members who don't meet standards
  • etc.

Given SEMPO's stated goals and core function - AFAIK, to be all-inclusive, non-policing and to promote the SEM industry outside of the SEM industry - the former approach seems the more logical.

I agree with Doug on this point.

IMO the problem with SEMPO is that the board is stuffed full of people who are naturals at self-promotion but who have little idea about running an industry org. Is it any wonder that the result is a mess of an industry org with accusations of self promotion? The board have simply done what they're good at and failed to do what they have no experience of.

If SEMPO can get away from this idea of promoting the membership and the board members, and simply promote the industry, then it becomes an org that anyone can join. At the moment I don't believe it is, yet that was an original core objective. The board stopped it by dint of their natural strengths and weaknesses.

It's a straight choice for SEMPO, IMO:
  • Promote best practices and promote & police the membership, or
  • Don't promote best practices and don't promote & police the membership

SEMPO can still have various levels of membership, but these should not equate to levels of promotion. Instead, they should relate to the benefits received by the members - discounts on conferences, research reports, etc.

If SEMPO wants to detach itself from the industry reputation issue, it must stop promoting its members.

BTW, IMO Search Engines should be members and sponsors of an industry org. Why? Because they're part of the industry. It would be a bit strange if the Search Engine Marketing industry didn't include search engines.
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Old 08-12-2004   #34
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>It would be a bit strange if the Search Engine Marketing industry didn't include search engines.

I think it would be even stranger if they were.

Strange.

Either one of us is thinking too much or one of us not enough.
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Old 08-13-2004   #35
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Originally Posted by dannysullivan
In this thread, what specifically do you think SEMPO should do in this area?
If SEMPO wants to go in into the “common guidelines” or "best business practices" and keep it’s core values of:
Quote:
SEMPO exists to fill the gaps in awareness and understanding of SEM, including educating marketing managers worldwide about what SEM is and how properly implemented SEM programs can provide some of the highest returns on investment possible in the marketing world today.
Then I suggest to SEMPO should hire two outstanding SEO Research Analysts that will do the following:

1) One analyst will research for those companies that have been banned and demonstrate what are “bad business practices”.

2) The other analyst will research on all the newest SEO techniques being used and demonstrate what are “best business practices”.

Both should be posted in the Members Only section with clear case study examples, including interviews with company representatives. Whether they provide the company’s name or not, it should point out clearly what they did to make the SEs take them out or what they have done to get a good result.

Can SEMPO afford two analysts? I think so, if this organization does not want to make a profit. Will this help educate both SEM professionals and new “marketing managers worldwide about what SEM is and how properly implemented SEM programs can provide some of the highest ROIs possible”?

YES!

My two cents, Danny.
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Old 08-13-2004   #36
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So Alan, in terms of why they may NOT need to police members or have standards, this is the key issue from what you posted:

Quote:
No explicit or implicit endorsement of members on the home page, the member Directory, or anywhere else on the site

No RFP procedure
OK, so if they drop all members listed on the home page, that's one positive view toward not needing standards. And it sounds like you'd probably feel some type of alphabetical listing of members would also be "non-promotional," since it wouldn't imply that one member is better than another. I suppose a randomly oriented directory would also be OK (as I'm an alphabetically-challenged surname, I've never though alpha listings so fair.

Also, dropping the RFP option I assume makes you feel like SEMPO isn't inadvertently endorsing its members -- the current disclaimer, I assume, doesn't do the job enough.

OK, all of that is easy for SEMPO to do and get off the standards hook some want them to take up with one last thing -- aren't some going to argue that anyone being a member of SEMPO and being listed in any way is an implicit endorsement?
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Old 08-13-2004   #37
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Originally Posted by dannysullivan
Also, dropping the RFP option I assume makes you feel like SEMPO isn't inadvertently endorsing its members -- the current disclaimer, I assume, doesn't do the job enough.
It probably does the job. But submission of RFPs was not a job that needed doing. When you think of all the jobs that did need doing but haven't been done, IMO it shows that the focus was in the wrong place.

Quote:
OK, all of that is easy for SEMPO to do and get off the standards hook some want them to take up with one last thing -- aren't some going to argue that anyone being a member of SEMPO and being listed in any way is an implicit endorsement?
Yes, some always will. The fewer name drops and (particularly) link drops in material published by SEMPO, the less likely this is to happen.

When SEMPO first formed, I was firmly of the opinion that it needed to have standards and police those standards. Now I believe it is possible to avoid the standards issue by not promoting/endorsing the membership in any way. Obviously I would prefer the org to have standards, but I realise the problems this would cause and I'm trying to propose practical alternatives.
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Old 08-13-2004   #38
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When SEMPO first formed, I was firmly of the opinion that it needed to have standards and police those standards. Now I believe it is possible to avoid the standards issue by not promoting/endorsing the membership in any way.
It's an amazing change, both by you and apparently Doug. A heartening one, too.

I cannot begin to total how much time has been spent banging against SEMPO when it started -- before it had any track record -- that it was already useless because it wasn't going to vet members. And why don't we see board members and others stepping up in forums to talk more today. Heck, they got pretty battle scarred trying to engage in conversation over the standards issue in the past.

The group specifically avoided getting into this because of the entire debate:

Quote:
To be successful, SEMPO's essentially side-stepping the standards debate that has bogged down other attempts to organize search engine marketing firms and aiming to achieve goals where there's more agreement.
Not vetting members has probably been the single biggest criticism I've heard leveled at it since it started, and before Mike's recent article appearing highlighting different concerns.

Part of me is left wondering if all those concerns, issues about how members are listed, tier levels, etc. today might have been different if those who stayed out of SEMPO because of a "lack of standards" had stepped up at the beginning and exercised a voice from within the organization.

I'm not excusing the many problems people currently have with SEMPO. There's lots that needs to be fixed, absolutely. But until Mike's article, it was the issue of standards that most vocal critics of SEMPO seemed to want to ding it for.

Now, it sounds like this whole thing can be sidestepped with some pretty simply changes to how members are listed on the site. That's great to hear.

All along, I though SEMPO would be most useful if it didn't try to divide us into white hat/black hat but instead worked on areas where various people in SEM have common interests.

In my SES keynote, I did this chart where I tried to show that the dividing line between white and black hat that seems so distant actually completely changes when you add in other dimensions, such as concerns a small firm has, a big firm has or what everyone may have in relation to the search engines themselves.

If the standards thing can indeed be set aside, it definitely gives SEMPO (or any alternative trade group) a good chance. And NFFC idea of leaving potential vetting to other bodies (such as legal groups or perhaps search engine whitelists/blacklists) also means consumers can get protection, as well.
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Old 08-13-2004   #39
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Now, it sounds like this whole thing can be sidestepped with some pretty simply changes to how members are listed on the site. That's great to hear.
I don't think it's fair to say that Alan and Doug speak for everyone who has refused to become involved with SEMPO over the vetting issue. We haven't all changed our minds about that.

Speaking just for myself though, I've never had a major problem with the idea of SEMPO existing. I just didn't want any part of it. My biggest gripe was, and I suspect will continue to be that I'm uncomfortable with the organization claiming or appearing to represent the industry as a whole. The vetting business is part of that, but so is the concentration on promoting only large projects for large clients.
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Old 08-13-2004   #40
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I don't think it's fair to say that Alan and Doug speak for everyone who has refused to become involved with SEMPO over the vetting issue. We haven't all changed our minds about that.
Valid point. I guess it's just heartening to think there's been some change with at least two people that I know hold the idea of standards very close to their hearts.
Quote:
My biggest gripe was, and I suspect will continue to be that I'm uncomfortable with the organization claiming or appearing to represent the industry as a whole.
Indeed. This was such a huge thing on a WebmasterWorld.com thing when it started. Probably the biggest other issue that I've seen out there. We could do a whole other thread on it -- you know how I love new threads. But my main advice is that SEMPO needs to be careful in its language to represent itself as "a trade group" or even "a leading trade group" but not suggest that it is the only industry voice out there. I think the release they just did on the SEMPO ad campaign that just started does a good job of this:

Quote:
About the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO)
SEMPO is a non-profit professional association working to increase awareness and promote the value of Search Engine Marketing worldwide. The organization represents the common interests of more than 250 companies and consultants worldwide and provides them with a voice in the marketplace. For more information, or to join the organization, please visit SEMPO.
That seems pretty factual and even handed to me. I have no doubt there have been statements that have gone completely the other way. Again, it's something that I hope they'll watch.
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