Search Engine Watch
SEO News

Go Back   Search Engine Watch Forums > Search Engine Marketing Strategies > Search Engine Marketing > Outsourcing SEM
FAQ Members List Calendar Forum Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools
Old 07-12-2004   #1
dannysullivan
Editor, SearchEngineLand.com (Info, Great Columns & Daily Recap Of Search News!)
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Search Engine Land
Posts: 2,085
dannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud of
Improving The Reputation Of The SEM Industry

It's not been a good couple of weeks for the reputation of the SEM industry. Some examples:
  • Seth Godin posts recently that "I didn't think that most SEO was worth the money"
  • Anil Dash also wrote recently, "I've always had a pretty low opinion of the Search Engine Optimization industry. Though there are of course legitimate experts in the field, it seems chock full of people who are barely above spammers, and they taint the image of the whole group."
  • The allegations against Traffic Power no doubt will make many wary of whether they should trust an SEM firm.
I think it's fair to say that there are plenty of great SEO/SEM firms. They do good work, and it's unfortunate that the entire industry gets tarred with the same brush.

What's the solution? Clearly we need to have standards that SEM firms will follow, right? Just like the same standards that PR firms all agree to follow.

Oops. I don't know of any approved standards that all PR firms are supposed to follow. I don't know which resource lists all the "ethical" or "white hat" PR firms. I can tell you that having been a target of PR firms, I've seen a range of responses. I've seen small, tiny agencies have done a great job in getting a message out to me. I've had large, well-known agencies be completely clueless and even do some things that I'd consider to be PR spam.

That's just one example of an industry that lacks standards, yet I don't often see people writing that that all PR is a waste of time or that all PR firms are a rip-off artists.

SEM has gone through downturns in its reputation before, and it will probably go through them again. But personally, I'm tired of the entire industry being beaten up. This is, after all, the industry that almost certainly has generated a significant part of the income that search engines like Yahoo and Google are earning -- in turn making those companies able to offer search for free.

Again, what's the solution? I don't know. I do know that anyone trying to start out and define what's "ethical" begins from a point of weakness. That's because the search engines each define for themselves what they consider to be acceptable. So others trying to say what's right and wrong, on behalf of the entire SEM industry, don't stand on firm ground no matter how good the intentions or even whether they are generally correct. They still cannot speak for the search engines themselves.

That's one reason I didn't think SEMPO should start out trying to set rules, and still don't. If the search engine won't be public in part out of fear, a brand new industry group is supposed to? But as SEMPO is turning a year old, I did recently suggest to the board in my advisory capacity that perhaps it is time for it to explore some type of solution that involves the search engines themselves.

Perhaps the way to a solution is to ask what's the problem? To me, the problem for the entire SEM industry is that there are clients who don't know who to trust. That means a lost opportunity, both for SEM firms and for search engines themselves, because some of these lost clients would spend money on ads.

OK, how do you know who to trust? One solution would be a blacklist, where search engines publish firms accused of bad behavior. But search engines have been hesitant to do this, as I've written before.

Right, how about a whitelist? Perhaps SEO/SEM firms voluntarily agree to participate with each major search engine in a public reporting service. You'd tell your clients that they can easily check if you've done anything a search engine considers wrong by using a database the search engine provides. If you don't participate, nothing would be published.

So let's say we've got three firms -- ispamlikecrazy.com, pureasthedrivensnow.com and getyouconversions.com.

Ispam doesn't register. They spam, Google acts, but there's no public record of this action. So why bother? A consumer considering ispam could ask ispam why they aren't registered with the Google program, which may spur them to investigate ispam more. In the end, they may still decide they like ispam's aggressive technique -- but at least they can't come back and say they didn't get a warning.

Pure does register. They do nothing to get into trouble, so you can find they've got a clean bill of health.

Getyouconversions does register. Google comes across something really
spammy they've done for a client. Getyou is told that an action report is being filed. Getyou has agreed to accept this as taking part in the program. Getyou can perhaps insert their own response into the report but stay in the program. If potential clients see this, they can explain perhaps they've learned their lesson, and that it can be seen there's no further reports over time. Alternatively, perhaps they can withdraw from the program, putting them in the same situation as ispam.

That's one idea. It's not perfect. In particular, it leave the search engines with the ability to be, as Jill Whalen put it recently, "as the boss of me." Jill's a pretty well-known "white hatter," so if she's got reservations, you can only imagine what proud "black hatter" SEOs might think about such ideas.

I have my own reservations about it as well. But the search engines are the boss of us within their own borders, as my Spam Rules Require Effective Spam Police article from earlier this year explains more. And for the consumer seeking an SEM firm, this is one of the key issues they want to know: will the work you do get me into trouble with a particular search engine?

Here's a twist to consider. Perhaps the search engines themselves might also take part in a public reporting program. If someone is dinged on public spam reporting they provide, perhaps an appeal could be made to a program that reviews search engine actions. And perhaps such a program could also be used to investigate any wrong-doing that are aimed at search engines -- I think they boosted this particular web site, they failed to act on the clickfraud allegation and so on.

I'd also come back to the whitelist idea I've pitched and stress that it is voluntary. No one would have to take part. It is not even designed to say "good SEM, bad SEM." Instead, it's meant to help potential SEM clients figure out whether a particular firm has done anything wrong with a particular search engine. No doubt, there will be some inherent "goodness" attached to those who participate in the program and have clean records. But right now, everyone is getting a bad rep, frankly, no matter how clean they may claim to be.

So that's the long post. Thoughts on the idea, good or bad? Or even better, completely new ideas on a way to improve the reputation of the SEM industry, in a way that will gain the support of many of those already in it?
dannysullivan is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #2
bwelford
Internet Marketing Consultant
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Posts: 100
bwelford is on a distinguished road
I guess you and I, Danny, were both thinking and writing on this issue about the same time this morning. Your thread is most timely.

I believe no para-legalistic system with "laws", police-ing, outing or whatever will be easy to implement. Any system that tries to prevent bad habits is always tough, if the bad habits can make you money.

I suggest it's better to look for an encouragement system, where folk gradually realize that following Best Practices is the way to succeed. I've set out one way it might be done here.
__________________
Barry Welford
SMM Internet Marketing Consultants
bwelford is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #3
dannysullivan
Editor, SearchEngineLand.com (Info, Great Columns & Daily Recap Of Search News!)
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Search Engine Land
Posts: 2,085
dannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud of
What you describe effectively happens, in some ways. Google (and Yahoo, and others) already have guidelines, and they do pass judgement on pages that don't seem to pass those guidelines. It's also important to note that this does include NOT taking action in some cases. They might find a page using invisible text or even cloaking but still may allow the page to retain, if they ultimately feel it is causing no harm.

What you don't get is the ombudsman idea, that they notify someone that a URL has been removed. That Spam Rules article I referenced suggested that one way this might happen, at least with Google, is to do something similar to DMCA removal notification.

Google in particular, however, has been wary of providing any type of spam notice or verification option for fear of helping people better spam them. In other words, the less they say, the less potential spammers are uncertain of what may be caught. Of course, that also means plenty of people not doing spamming may assume they've done so if they get dropped for a variety of perfectly innocent reasons.

I guess that's the reason I like the voluntary and public approach. At least with that, Google and the other search engines can establish a direct relationship with SEM firms (and ad agencies or anyone else who does promotion on behalf of others). The search engines potentially are giving some "spam tips" away, but I think that would be offset by better understanding and relating to some of these companies.
dannysullivan is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #4
Incubator
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: toronto
Posts: 260
Incubator has a spectacular aura aboutIncubator has a spectacular aura aboutIncubator has a spectacular aura about
I can really only see the major search engines building relations with SEO/SEM firms depending on the the purchasing power the SEM firm brings with the client to the table. Organic natural index listings do not provide google or Yahoo any direct income. Those "free" listings everyone wants to appear on the top pages with, do not send Google and Yahoo any sort of income, but the buying potential Adwords, Site Match and so on...will naturally be given a second look if the budget is in an area where Google and Yahoo like to see. What we should ask the major engines, is what do they have in plan for companies or individuals that bring a revenue stream to THIER business by using the programs offered. Lets face it Google will not pat you on the head and say" you have been a good ethical markerter" so here is your reward, natural index is only governed by complaints and not neccesarily good work.

Another large draw back are those companies offering submissions to 300,000 search engines for 99.00, these companies infact our doing more harm to our business as well as anyone who signs up for it. Forums like this one hopefully will bring the industry to a point where de-education becomes a helpful path by letting ppl know the facts.
Incubator is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #5
Daria_Goetsch
SEOExplore.com - SEO Research Directory
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Eureka, California
Posts: 226
Daria_Goetsch has a spectacular aura aboutDaria_Goetsch has a spectacular aura about
I don't think the in fighting between SEM's helps the industry as a whole. I'm not talking about obvious spammers who have a scam going to rip off a client, everyone needs to be aware of those companies. I'm talking about variations on methods SEM's use in the industry, and how we often have extreme conversations about what is an absolute in "right" and "wrong". I don't think this does a service to the SEM industry. If we're reading all about it online, it is there for potential clients to read as well.

Standards idea: all SEM companies are required to have an agreement between client and SEM stating the client was informed of all potential SEM techniques that might cause problems with the search engines, with those techniques listed in the agreement. Those companies not providing the agreement to the client could be cited and/or fined. In this situation, the client is fully informed of best practices, and the decision to proceed using questionable techniques is between the client and SEM.
Daria_Goetsch is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #6
NFFC
"One wants to have, you know, a little class." DianeV
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 468
NFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to behold
Oh boy, my favourite subject!

>Improving The Reputation Of The SEM Industry

I think firstly we have a lot of confusion about who the SEM/SEO industry consists of.

It seems whenever these discussions arise the focus seems to fall on a very small but very vocal group. For want of a better example many of the members of SEMPO fall in to this group, I don't believe they represent anything more than a tiny fraction of a % of "our" industry. Let me give an example using today's announcement concerning Marketleap:

"Digital Impact expects the acquisition to result in approximately $1.5 million in additional net revenues and approximately $300,000 in EBITDA(1) for fiscal 2005"

That is a tiny, tiny company by any measure and yet is touted as one of the market leaders. I know SEO's that work from their back bedroom that earn more and webmaster/SEO's that do more in a month AND there are 10's of thousands of them!

So we have a mismatch about where the real power and influence lies and where I believe it actually lies. Just because the SE's marketing departments find it easier to deal with these so called "large" companies doesn't make them important, some would say it just makes them easier to use.

So with the proviso that I think we are focusing on the wrong "group" in looking for a lead in these matters my suggestion is very straightforward:

We need to attack, expose and stamp out hypocrisy whenever we see it.

Let me give some specific examples from both sides of the coin.

As we have mentioned SEMPO already have a quick scan of the member list. Many good companies there, some great ones, personally I recognise a few labelled by the SE's as very bad boys, spammers par excellence breaking every rule in the book. Others, which I know from personal experience are page jackers, some would call them thiefs. My belief, as stated earlier in this thread is as far as the SE's are concerned the main difference between a dirty spammer and a vauled partner is how much they spend on PPC, I think that is a very poor state of affairs.

Lets have a look at the SE's, they too play their part in this dirty game. Taking Yahoo as an example [for no other reason than they are an easy target] look at how on the one hand they say you must show the same content to us as you show to the user, contrast that with the fact that they will allow you to cloak a feed as_long_as_you_pay_them. Take Yahoo again and the statement that site match does not affect ranking, they are weasel words. Lets look at the facts, sites that pass a human review get a boost, ALL site match URL's get a human review... ergo and so on and so forth.

If we are looking to improve the reputation of our industry I believe we have a very, very long way to go and are currently headed in the wrong direction. I believe the current "leadership" is doing a very poor job, I believe that by listening to them the SE's are doing a very poor job.

Short term I only see things getting worse.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=hypocrisy
NFFC is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #7
Incubator
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: toronto
Posts: 260
Incubator has a spectacular aura aboutIncubator has a spectacular aura aboutIncubator has a spectacular aura about
"Digital Impact expects the acquisition to result in approximately $1.5 million in additional net revenues and approximately $300,000 in EBITDA(1) for fiscal 2005That is great for "DI" .....showing that SEM can lead in a traditional marketing venue....GGGEEEZZZ I should head to the great USA for our VC funding

Cheers

Wc
Incubator is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #8
Wail
Another member
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 247
Wail will become famous soon enoughWail will become famous soon enough
We need a watch dog and a watch dog with teeth. An independent organisation of sufficient size and prominence to investigate "dodgy SEO agency" reports, to have some support from search engines (who should want to be seen cooperating with a watch dog of suitable status) and with enough above the line presence for consumers to be aware of.

I'm thinking more along the lines of Interactive Advertising Burea than an SEO organisation created by SEO agencies, for SEO agencies and which sells off PageRank. The IAB is an example, please note.

A decent watch dog would allow some form of accreditation in addition to any warnings. Agencies would need to register valid contact details (and more, perhaps financial assurances too) to score the accreditation and so the watch dog would not have to hunt down shadowy figures in attic bedrooms as the customer complaints started to come in.

The watch dog would be in a position to keep track of the SEO agency's reputation.

I think this would make things tough for the smaller SEOs and it would increase the barrier to entry on the market place but this might not be a bad idea.
Wail is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #9
NFFC
"One wants to have, you know, a little class." DianeV
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 468
NFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to behold
>so the watch dog would not have to hunt down shadowy figures in attic bedrooms

I think you will find they consist of the best and most ethical SEO's you will be likely to meet.

Of course if they are you will never be able to find them anyhow.
NFFC is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #10
Bernard
www.measuring-up.com
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Friendswood, TX
Posts: 92
Bernard is an unknown quantity at this point
Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
I think it's fair to say that there are plenty of great SEO/SEM firms. They do good work, and it's unfortunate that the entire industry gets tarred with the same brush.
You make one customer happy and he might tell another person about your service/product. You make one customer mad and he will tell ten people to avoid you like the plague. That's a paraphrase of an old saying.

Are all used car salesmen dishonest? No, but their industry has that reputation because of the perceived abundance of less than honest salesmen. IMO, SEM is facing a similar problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
What's the solution? Clearly we need to have standards that SEM firms will follow, right? ...
Standards - would be a good start
Certification - would be better for consumers
Licensing - I doubt anyone wants to go this far

Having a Professional organization for SEM that means the same thing to SEM as (for example) PMI means to project management would be a good thing. Any organization that promotes a minimum standard that members are expected to uphold will help consumers.

SEO Consultants and SEOPros have made a good start with standards and certification, IMO. I would like to see search engines support a non-profit Professional organization like them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
... I do know that anyone trying to start out and define what's "ethical" begins from a point of weakness. That's because the search engines each define for themselves what they consider to be acceptable. So others trying to say what's right and wrong, on behalf of the entire SEM industry, don't stand on firm ground no matter how good the intentions or even whether they are generally correct. They still cannot speak for the search engines themselves.
I doubt any search engine will support an organization that does not prohibit violations of their guidelines (or allows violations within the standards being promoted). The arguments of whether or not it is ethical to do so are moot in the context of developing support for an industry Professional organization IMO. Without search engine backing, a Professional organization will lack the necessary credibility to drive the industry.

While interpretations of guidelines may drive debates over what is acceptable practice, ethics and standards within a Professional organization would necessarily require members to comply with the guidelines of any search engine that is being targeted IMO.
Bernard is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #11
Incubator
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: toronto
Posts: 260
Incubator has a spectacular aura aboutIncubator has a spectacular aura aboutIncubator has a spectacular aura about
Interesting idea....but how would you govern the 10,000's of affiliate marketers out there that use the shady side of SEO, lets face it they still deliver forms of doorways, hallways and enterance pages. Depending on the industry you are in those may account for the largest range of your competition for a client. Case in point, we do some work for online casinos...they have 25,000 affiliate re-sellers that will implement " any coding necessary" for conversions. When we have a team of 4 on the account competing with 25,000 affiliates, the company (client) always turns to us to say"how come our affiliates are ranking better then us....we dont want to keep paying 35% comission for life to the affiliates" ?

Controlling organizations is the easiest part of all,looking at the whole picture though, may lead to more drill down tactics needed buy all organizations to say "one off splash pages are no good", then again that train of though can lead to banner ads as well,they are intrusive also and dont care any weight anymore as well

Cheers

WC
Incubator is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #12
bwelford
Internet Marketing Consultant
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Posts: 100
bwelford is on a distinguished road
All these suggestions re some type of watch dog with teeth imply huge efforts on the parts of lots of people.

My simple suggestion in the second post to this thread would require very limited efforts but these efforts would be applied by those who are most directly affected. To my mind, the most important stakeholders here are the search engines who are being spammed and those website owners who are delisted by the actions of disreputable SEO's.

[For those who do not have time to go to read the link I put in there, here is a short synopsis of the important points. I suggested that a search engine like Google should appoint a 'Best Practices Judge' who would review and perhaps de-index those URL's that were not following Best Practices. The owner of a URL that had been de-indexed would receive notice of this de-indexing but without reasons. This is a great way of rapidly empowering such URL owners who may have been "assisted" by a disreputable SEO. A 'Best Practices Ombudsman' process would allow those who had unfairly been indexed to appeal the de-indexing.]

Whatever process is adopted should be simple and have a high probability of working effectively. I fear that the debates that have swirled around SEMPO show the difficulties of trying to set limits on behaviour rather than suggesting a good direction to follow.
__________________
Barry Welford
SMM Internet Marketing Consultants
bwelford is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #13
I, Brian
Whitehat on...Whitehat off...Whitehat on...Whitehat off...
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Scotland
Posts: 940
I, Brian is a glorious beacon of lightI, Brian is a glorious beacon of lightI, Brian is a glorious beacon of lightI, Brian is a glorious beacon of lightI, Brian is a glorious beacon of light
Nice topic here - SEO ethics is one of more own personal favourite discussion points.

The trouble is, the whole industry is so diverse, from the clients to the SEO individuals & companies to the search engines themselves. There is no level playing field from which to make straight and clear rules that can equally apply to any field.

How ordinary local businesses are served best is going to be very different to how adult businesses need to be promoted - and the different search engines and directories being targeted is also a pertinent issue: though Google has been king of the hill for a while, there are always the Yahoo! Slurp and MSN bots snapping at the heels, to mention Teoma and other established alternatives.

Ultimately, SEO is a business that anyone can set themselves up with minimal initial layout costs. However, this effects many other fields of internet business, not least web design and webhosting. Any kid with HTTP access can theoretically lay claim to mastery of any such field - ultimately, it is up to the peers to be able to help distinguish who are the people worth taking serious - for example, as like WebHostingTalk has done for the web hosting industry.

However, the diversity of SEO client is reflected in the diversity of the SEO industry - some just want link exchanges, some want links, others are more concerned with content - and, ultimately, they are all chasing search terms of different degrees of competitiveness.

A "whitelist" I think is a bad idea, because it cannot reflect the needs of clients, merely the preferred standards of search engines. And as you've rightly pointed out, they're not keen on working with us.

More specifically, most search engines probably wish the whole issue of SEO would crawl under a large rock and be crushed there - they want results on their own terms, not on the terms of the consumer, or the consumer’s representatives.

Ultimately, search engines are oligarchies who insist on being obeyed, but refuse to provide clear rules for SEO because that would mean condoning the practice of usurping their authority over their own SERPs.

Of course, in looking to circumvent the authority of search engines, SEO's become like the rogue - a rogue who must look to choose (not exclusively) to serve themselves, their clients, and the search engines. Which presents it's own problems. Ideally, each master will be served well, but there is always a balance required.

Any attempt to whitelist the industry ignores its complexities - and previous attempts, in my opinion, have simply served as mockeries. SEO consultant is a good example - it's effectively a list of copywriters claiming the SEO crown.

Which in itself denigrates the entire industry to text-pushers, when high-volume high-quality content works so well for non-commercial sites - and artificial link-building has proven time and time again to be the definitive power of commercial SEO.

Danny, if you would like a definitive answer on how to give respect to the SEO industry, then I would personally suggest a place like searchenginewatch models it's forum as like WebHostingTalk, and what that has done for the webhosting industry.

Nowadays, across the webmastering community, when someone asks for a recommendation for webhosting, somebody at some point is going to recommend a search on webhostingtalk.

Although the general confidentiality required in SEO means that few clients are going to be able to be too open about who's doing what for them, a place like SEW could fulfill some form of that non-partisan authoritative role for commentating on SEO as an industry, as well as individual firms and personnel.

However, it's never going to be that unless you allow members to be able to identify themselves more openly, in my opinion. For example, single line one-link signature links are a good idea.

Heck, if you want to be a PR hog then use a jump script and then people aren't going to be posting about for apparent backlinks. But allow the members of the SEO community to identify itself.

The current system of "profiles only" continues the tradition of trying to keep the SEO industry low-key, and the lack of identifier is a good reason why a lot of SEO's will not take a place like the SEW forums as a serious place to post. That's precisely why WebMasterWorld is so crowded with chatty amateurs - having professional visibility means something to most professional people. And profiles simply do not fulfil that role for many.

If you want to bring reputation to the SEO industry as a whole then you could use the SEW forums as a non-partisan place to bring the peers of the industry together - all of us looking at one another, meeting on neutral and authoritative ground.

That way, although you couldn't dictate terms of "ethics" to the industry, you could serve as a place for people to look for information on SEO - whether practice, business, or reputation of specific companies. You become an authority on the SEO industry because the SEO industry would be more thoroughly represented here than anywhere else on the net - and that authority is something that people would look for. It’s a key principle of “natural” link-building, and ultimately a possible way forward to giving the people of the industry a single central face.

In my opinion that's one of the most accessible ways to let the SEO industry improve it's reputation – but, ultimately, it’s your call on whether you dare aspire to that.

2 very long cents.
I, Brian is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #14
NFFC
"One wants to have, you know, a little class." DianeV
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 468
NFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to behold
>While interpretations of guidelines may drive debates over what is acceptable practice, ethics and standards within a Professional organization would necessarily require members to comply with the guidelines of any search engine that is being targeted IMO.

Oh boy Bernard I had you down as an intelligent guy, going to have to give a negitive reputation vote on that one.

So are you saying that the main driver of ethics on the www should be the search engines? Looking at past, recent and very near future business practices I believe they should be the last group to be in charge of any ethical debate.
NFFC is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #15
Wail
Another member
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 247
Wail will become famous soon enoughWail will become famous soon enough
Quote:
Originally Posted by NFFC
>so the watch dog would not have to hunt down shadowy figures in attic bedrooms

I think you will find they consist of the best and most ethical SEO's you will be likely to meet.

Of course if they are you will never be able to find them anyhow.
I'm not saying that attic SEOers are shadowy. I'm saying that shadowy figures can be even tricker to track down if they're not tied to a commerical bricks and mortar investment. It's all about having a list - and ways to contact SEOs - who wish to be able to say that they're "Registered with [Watch Dog X]".

"Registered with" - by the way, not necessarily "Approved by". It's a first step to reassurance but an important one.
Wail is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #16
Incubator
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: toronto
Posts: 260
Incubator has a spectacular aura aboutIncubator has a spectacular aura aboutIncubator has a spectacular aura about
I dont think you can apply any " ethics" to the current situation until the playing grounds are all fair to begin with...this I do not see happening in the near future



Cheers

WC
Incubator is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #17
dannysullivan
Editor, SearchEngineLand.com (Info, Great Columns & Daily Recap Of Search News!)
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Search Engine Land
Posts: 2,085
dannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud of
Quote:
I doubt any search engine will support an organization that does not prohibit violations of their guidelines (or allows violations within the standards being promoted).
SEMPO, IAB, The International Association Of Work From Home SEO Companies -- I'm not looking to any of the existing groups or some new organization to come along and "certify" SEM firms. Others might think that will work. I do not. That's because as I said before, the spam rules any organization would claim to enforce wouldn't have been set by that organization. They're set by each individual search engine.

I had a email correspondence with one such group recently, that wanted to define the use of a Dublin Core title tag in addition to an HTML title tag as spam. Not in my opinion. DC tags aren't indexed by major search engines that I know of, have a completely different use and a purpose to coexist with regular title tags. Yet according to this group, that's spam?

Each search engine defines spam. Some things they say publicly not to do, they may still sometimes allow, depending on the exact intent. Some things they don't itemize, they may consider spam. So if you come back to this:

Quote:
Standards idea: all SEM companies are required to have an agreement between client and SEM stating the client was informed of all potential SEM techniques that might cause problems with the search engines, with those techniques listed in the agreement.
Well, I couldn't even list each and every technique. The situation is also going to just get worse. We've lived in a nearly pure Google world for some time. End of the year, we'll be dealing with four major crawlers: Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask Jeeves. The days of multiple and conflicting rules may return.

That's why I return to the idea of skipping past the standards idea, which has never gone anywhere, and suggest the voluntary reporting program. If a search engine spots something seriously wrong with a firm, they can let the public know with the cooperation of that firm, after a review.

Quote:
Interesting idea....but how would you govern the 10,000's of affiliate marketers out there that use the shady side of SEO
I'm not proposing that anyone who does SEO be governed. I'm not even suggesting we set up a watchdog group, though others may want that.

Like NFFC says, I agree there's no organization that can claim to speak for the entire industry. It's massive, ranging from individual practitioners to large companies. It involves companies that do nothing but improve free listings via pure SEO to ad agencies who have a unit dealing with nothing but paid listings.

What I am saying is that there are consumers who want the help of SEM firms. Right now, they have no authorative way to check out whether a firm has had problems with a particular search engine. So perhaps the search engines themselves should allow for reporting of SEM firms who agree to be monitored.

This doesn't prevent other firms who don't want to take part from still doing SEM. This doesn't accredit SEM firms, which is an impossible task -- are search engines going to approve each and every person who may decide to do SEM work for someone else? But it will give the SEM firms that want it an opportunity.

As a side benefit, I think it would help improve the industry's reputation. Instead of various pundits saying SEO is useless or full of scam artists, the fact you could check up on some firms and find out they'd had no reports would be helpful, IMHO.
dannysullivan is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #18
dannysullivan
Editor, SearchEngineLand.com (Info, Great Columns & Daily Recap Of Search News!)
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Search Engine Land
Posts: 2,085
dannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud ofdannysullivan has much to be proud of
Quote:
However, it's never going to be that unless you allow members to be able to identify themselves more openly, in my opinion. For example, single line one-link signature links are a good idea.
We're not changing the signature policy for the immediate future. If you want to add your dissent about that, the Signature Policy thread is the right place. It also provides a lot of explanation about why we think you can be plenty visible without a signature showing up at the bottom of everything you post. As a reminder, if you want more visibility, you can put whatever you want to have underneath your name in the profile. You're choosing to be shown as "UK SEO." It's perfectly fine to make that your URL or company name, if you want.

Quote:
If you want to bring reputation to the SEO industry as a whole then you could use the SEW forums as a non-partisan place to bring the peers of the industry together - all of us looking at one another, meeting on neutral and authoritative ground.
Well, that's what I hope people perceive it to be. And one of the reasons we have this particular forum is to let people freely talk about their experiences with particular firms, as relevant.
dannysullivan is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #19
Wail
Another member
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 247
Wail will become famous soon enoughWail will become famous soon enough
Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
SEMPO, IAB, The International Association Of Work From Home SEO Companies -- I'm not looking to any of the existing groups or some new organization to come along and "certify" SEM firms. Others might think that will work. I do not. That's because as I said before, the spam rules any organization would claim to enforce wouldn't have been set by that organization. They're set by each individual search engine.
The watch dog doesn't define what spam is. Search engines do. The watch dog simply compiles and collects complaints made against SEOs. Clients can make complaints and I suppose the search engines themselves could too.

A consumer looking for an SEO agency can check with the watch dog. "Does [agency Y] have a legacy of customer complaints?" and the watch dog will be able to answer.

It's not certification. It's registration at an organisation significant enough for businesses to approach and trust.
Wail is offline  
Old 07-12-2004   #20
NFFC
"One wants to have, you know, a little class." DianeV
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 468
NFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to beholdNFFC is a splendid one to behold
I'm struggling with the motivation of the thread.

>What I am saying is that there are consumers who want the help of SEM firms

Sure.

>But it will give the SEM firms that want it an opportunity.

From my very limited experience the firms that "want it" may be the very ones that are a poor choice to the consumer.

Thats a very big circle to square.
NFFC is offline  
Closed Thread


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off