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Old 07-27-2004   #1
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Mike Grehan Stirs Up SEMPO Controversy

In Mike Grehan's most recent article named Who needs SEMPO? he writes "SEMPO has approved a $1,500 per week stipend to Ms Coll. This amounts to a salary of $78,000, to fund a part time effort from someone who already has a full time job running a SEM business."

Anyd has an excellent summary of this at his blog.

This is all pretty shocking to me. I am on the education committee of SEMPO, I was not aware of the salary. I wonder how this is all going to play out. Lots of SEMPO board members, advisory members and regular members are at this forum. What are your thoughts?
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Old 07-27-2004   #2
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B. Coll says "The Board of Directors have received no financial compensation for their volunteer position on the board of SEMPO."

Also, a little clarification, she also said "We have by-laws that spell out the term of a Director and how they are to be replaced and/or elected. We will be opening a new Board member position up for members to nominate and then vote in. This will happen in 2004. Another Board member will be added from UK/Europe by London SES in June. This person will be appointed by the current Board based on their ability to mobilize volunteers to carry out the SEMPO mission in Europe."
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Old 07-27-2004   #3
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Interesting article. To me I don’t really see the point off some of the statements i read. I do not know Ms.Coll at all, but if that’s a SEMPO business decision who are we to make controversy out of it. Obliviously Ms.Coll is very qualified for the position , whether she has another full time income is irrelevant...she’s qualified

As for SEMPO, they have the right to run their business the way they choose to better the organizations look and impression on people, if MS.Coll can deliver this outline with good conversions then, yes, the fee paid to her is justified in SEMPO's mind
Not being involved with SEMPO myself and really do not see a Canadian content factor in their plan (I COULD BE WRONG since I think i have been to the site once or twice a long time ago)

As any business, their decisions are hopefully made from proper direction, It is always hard for small organizations to add a second "pipe" to thier business model/plan when it looks like the "damn" is going to bust...so to speak


If that added salary is the problem, I’m sure SEMPO can justify it in their business direction
From what I also read....the board at SEMPO has some heavy weights on it, these professionals do take the time to make SEMPO a part of their work, should they be paid...well....how much work are they losing by providing this service. Once again look at this list of Directors, they are "movers and shakers" in some peoples eyes

More power to you SEMPO, hope you benefit in that direction your are following to make SEMPO more credible and recognized


My 2 cents


Cheers


WC

Last edited by Incubator : 07-27-2004 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 07-27-2004   #4
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After parting with my cash I waited patiently for my welcome pack and my newsletter and frequent pinging about events and happening stuff and... Not a sausage.
That's quite damning also. Sounds like many members may feel the same way?

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Old 07-27-2004   #5
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A while back, I worked for a firm that signed up as a member to SIMPER

I got a few spam emails, some affiliate offers, etc...complete with tracking codes!

Nothing substantial...and, I've been predicting this move (eg, that Barbara gets paid by SIMPER) for a while now.

Nobody - repeat, NOBODY, is going to go & crusade for the industry without some direct (and or easily trackable indirect) compensation.

>>>not a sausage

That's good.

>>>board members

Dam st8 they should get paid! I happen to know one or three of those guys, and IMHO, they should be getting some serious $$$ since they hopped on board and in many ways legitimized the whole thing. If it weren't for Kevin, Danny, etc al (Fred & company too) they Barbara would have been standing alone, running a flag up the pole on an island by herself, with nobody heading or caring about the cattle call to 'action'.
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Old 07-27-2004   #6
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I think the $ thing is a side issue, of course people deserve compensation for their efforts.

To me the greater point is that thus far they have done nothing for nobody but themselves. I don't see that changing.

The day they close the joke down will be a happy day for SEO's, imho.
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Old 07-27-2004   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Incubator
As for SEMPO, they have the right to run their business the way they choose to better the organizations look and impression on people, if MS.Coll can deliver this outline with good conversions then, yes, the fee paid to her is justified in SEMPO's mind
The whole concept of non profit is that everybody gives. The fact that board members got a free $5000 / year inclusion is adequate compensation in my mind.

The whole idea is that everybody gives something and as a whole our industry does better. $78,000 is a bunch of money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy_Goodrich
Nobody - repeat, NOBODY, is going to go & crusade for the industry without some direct (and or easily trackable indirect) compensation.
I completely disagree with that statement. If and when I get more successful I would like to help out the SEO industry for free. Hopefully that is what many of our forum posts do anyway.
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Old 07-27-2004   #8
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Originally Posted by seobook
The whole concept of non profit is that everybody gives. The fact that board members got a free $5000 / year inclusion is adequate compensation in my mind.

The whole idea is that everybody gives something and as a whole our industry does better. $78,000 is a bunch of money
A $5000.00 media buy wont deliver as much as you think, since it seems like SEMPO fee at that price delivers more then just PR pass, I saw alot more info that might be useful to companies that may help them on thier in house effects, if nothing else that might be a savings in outsourcing SEO. Dont get me wrong I am fully behind outsourcing SEO once a company properly understands that in house may become more then a one person job.

The 78k is irrelevant cash amount, that would be an SEO account spread over a year at $6500k a month. Im sure Ms.Coll would treat that as a client type of payment structure area or maybe not, I dont know the nature of her pricing and I really dont want to as well

Sometimes it costs money to make money, and offer a service that is trying to become an industry standard does take alot of time and money

Instead of hearing posts like "is cloaking bad " do meta tags work? and all the other negative information surrounding SEO, at least SEMPO seems to be trying to bring it into the over deserved attention it needs

But then again im still also looking for Canadian inclusion factors before I would be a member

Cheers

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Old 07-27-2004   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
The whole concept of non profit is that everybody gives.
not exactly. grass roots maybe, smaller organizations. Plenty non-profit organizations employ and pay executives (more than adequately).

It may seem like a lot of money, but it does depend on how many hours per week a person puts into the organization, and you definitely have to consider those hours as lost billable time- it's a trade off - you can only 'donate' so many free hours to any cause. and you also have to consider Barbara's standard hourly rate, which is at the top of the SEO scale.

i'm not saying I agree or disagree with the idea.

but it will be very interesting to see all the reactions to this.
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Old 07-27-2004   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Incubator
A $5000.00 media buy wont deliver as much as you think, since it seems like SEMPO fee at that price delivers more then just PR pass, I saw alot more info that might be useful to companies that may help them on thier in house effects, if nothing else that might be a savings in outsourcing SEO. Dont get me wrong I am fully behind outsourcing SEO once a company properly understands that in house may become more then a one person job.
So far money spent promoting my 8 month old SEO Book site is slightly less than $5,000 and last I checked it was a top 10 ranking site for "seo" on both Yahoo! and Google (it just went up to 10 on Google recently but may shift some back and forth). That $5,000 does not count my time, but to me if you are serious about changing stuff you can donate your time.

It is not like those placements are without payment either. I remember at a conference (I think NY SES) Kevin Lee stated that he tracks his traffic and that they have seen conversions come from SEMPO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Incubator
The 78k is irrelevant cash amount, that would be an SEO account spread over a year at $6500k a month. Im sure Ms.Coll would treat that as a client type of payment structure area or maybe not, I dont know the nature of her pricing and I really dont want to as well
That is easy for you to say, but some people do not make that much. I could probably promote a site for "online casino" or "buy viagra online" for well under $78,000. That is a ton of money in the SEO field.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Incubator
Sometimes it costs money to make money, and offer a service that is trying to become an industry standard does take alot of time and money
I have no problem donating my time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Incubator
Instead of hearing posts like "is cloaking bad " do meta tags work? and all the other negative information surrounding SEO, at least SEMPO seems to be trying to bring it into the over deserved attention it needs
But is it???? I certainly hear a bunch more about Traffic Power than SEMPO. I have linked into the SEMPO site since its inception, and for a long time I was one of about a dozen sites linking toward it.
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Old 07-27-2004   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
So far money spent promoting my 8 month old SEO Book site is slightly less than $5,000 and last I checked it was a top 10 ranking site for "seo" on both Yahoo! and Google (it just went up to 10 on Google recently but may shift some back and forth). That $5,000 does not count my time, but to me if you are serious about changing stuff you can donate your time..
I agree with you to a point there, but when you own or operate a corporation time becomes more precious then money for some, it still takes a commitment from both sides of a non profit business, nothing is free especially if you want to be an authority.




Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
That is easy for you to say, but some people do not make that much. I could probably promote a site for "online casino" or "buy viagra online" for well under $78,000. That is a ton of money in the SEO field.
couldnt tell you about Viagra..... but SEO for "online casino" 78k... sure, now SEM for the same casino is a different game. Been in it for seven years now,know the industry very well and its about conversions not just SERPS.
Now that same 78k for SEM, PPC, portal development wont do it, sorry thats just the facts, especially when you have them come to you and ask to be in the top positions they feel are converting


Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
I have no problem donating my time
Great, you should contact them, I would if I was you


Cheers

WC
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Old 07-27-2004   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Incubator
couldnt tell you about Viagra..... but SEO for "online casino" 78k... sure, now SEM for the same casino is a different game. Been in it for seven years now,know the industry very well and its about conversions not just SERPS.
Now that same 78k for SEM, PPC, portal development wont do it, sorry thats just the facts, especially when you have them come to you and ask to be in the top positions they feel are converting
since Casinos and the US government decided online casinos were a bad thing the biggest ppc networks no longer exist, so primarily the money would just go to promotion.

you can build an amazing site for $20,000 and $58,000 is a ton of money for SEO. the casino is not a good or fair comparison to make though.

the average US worker (especially the average non profit worker) makes nowhere near $78,000 / year.
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Old 07-27-2004   #13
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since Casinos and the US government decided online casinos were a bad thing the biggest ppc networks no longer exist, so primarily the money would just go to promotion.
For now, do you honestly think that the main publisher like "Google" and " Overture" like continue on that field the second that law comes up for appeal, their the onl ones making real money

Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
you can build an amazing site for $20,000 and $58,000 is a ton of money for SEO. the casino is not a good or fair comparison to make though..
no its not because it get harder, its not just one domain you are promoting its the "family" of portals they have. Most of the "main online casino companies" (which is less then you may think) offer 6 plus sites to promote, all serving different offers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seobook
the average US worker (especially the average non profit worker) makes nowhere near $78,000 / year.
The top online casions make millions, they know that if someone comes along with a $5000.00 package it may not be developed in a full marketing plan for them and they have tried these packages before with a very high lose rate. Once again its just education. Should education come at a high price along with conversion and proper SEM tactics? Of course it should, that is why we are also in business. As for the average US worker...guess what, same in Canada, but you cant bring that to an online business equation when dealing with an industry as huge as online casinos

Back to the topic of SEMPO, all im saying is that if they are stepping to the plate to offer a better service more power to them and it will come at some form of cost that should be covered

Cheers

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Old 07-27-2004   #14
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When you volunteer for a cause you do so for the good of that cause. Don't you think it's a little coincidental that board members are now (allegedly) being paid for that time. A cynic would suggest that was their intent all along. Barbara has been a little too happy to take the lead role, don't you think?

Simple litmus test...ask her to resign...we'll then see if she is doing what is best for the industry and not herself.
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Old 07-27-2004   #15
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The money thing is just a side issue.

Looking, through my biased eyes, at the bigger picture. SEMPO is just another attempt to control this industry by a group of individuals looking to advance their own aims.

I am not prepared to accept that and will not accept that.

The power, influence and $ in our industry lies not with the board of SEMPO and their companies, it lies with the independent webmaster professionals [as wmw puts it] that daily shape the www. It is the interests of that group that should be paramount, to allow SEMPO to try and usurp that power by the back door is simply wrong. Rather than allow a very small group of individuals to gain "special" privaliges we should be pushing the SE's to be more accountable to the webmasters that grace them with their content.

Without trying to get too personal, I have never, ever, seen a more amatuer set up in my entire life, and I've been around somewhat. I am sure the antics of SEMPO have raised much amusement within the SE's, if it wasn't so sad I'd be laughing too.

Without trying to get too personal part two [but sometimes it is about individuals] - There are [were] a couple of members of the board that I think our industry looked to, people we expected to not be blinded by BS and look out for "us". I think those two in particular have in some way let "us" down, Mr Sullivan and Mr Tabke need to take action to address that.

Once again, IM[biased]HO.
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Old 07-27-2004   #16
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The trick is, will the members think they are getting value for their money?

If not they will either demand accountability, results and/or demonstrable work product or they will vote with their feet.

It's been a year and I think people are still a little fuzzy on understanding what SEMPO is about and what SEMPO can do for them.
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Old 07-27-2004   #17
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I guess everyone will have to decide for themselves if SEMPO is an org that is out to promote the SEO industry or just promote a few individuals within the SEO Industry.

I guess if these folks want to promote our industry, it's OK with me, but they really should hold the self promotion to minium when working for a non-profit org (no matter if they get paid or not to volunteer their time).
 
Old 07-27-2004   #18
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Been out all day and just saw Mike's article. Thought I'd add some points, as well as address the specific concern NFFC had.

Unlike what Mike says, SEMPO was not Barbara's "brainchild." It grew out of the open forums we'd have at SES. Inevitably, we'd come back to issues about the industry reputation, the need to organize and so on. SEMPO was the brainchild of many of those who attended those sessions and wanted something more formal to emerge.

Barbara was one of those in attendance at these sessions -- and to be fair to her, she stepped up to the plate big time. You can question why she did it. Was it to earn the money she's now apparently paid? Was it to raise her reputation? Was it just out of desire to help the industry? Only she knows the true answers. Personally, I don't think she needed SEMPO as a money earner or reputation builder, but others are certainly free to disagree. But there's no doubt she was a prime mover in getting the organization past just talk and into action.

And the board members? Many of those were people who attended the organizational meeting in Boston 2003 and did a lot of work voluntarily to get things going without any promise of being on the board or any idea that it might actually happen. Anyone who was at that meeting could choose to be involved.

As for my involvement, I made it clear even when ideas were being floated of a group in those early organizational sessions that I didn't want to be running it or leading it. I'm busy enough with the work I do for SEW and SES. More important, SEMPO is an opportunity for others to have a voice for the industry.

I did think forming SEMPO was a good idea, however (and I still think the group can play an important role). That's one reason I agreed that between the Boston SES session and the August SES show last year when SEMPO launched, I'd serve as one of the interim board members. I did want to help see the organization actually get off the ground.

After that time, I stepped down off the board. I was happy to serve in an advisory capacity to the board, meaning that I might offer advice if they sought it or proactively if something seemed worth raising.

For example, when concerns were raised about some people thinking SEMPO was an accreditation body, I helped suggest some of the text and disclaimers that were posted to the site. More recently, as I explained in another thread, I raised to the entire board that I thought SEMPO would need to move toward addressing the reputation issue in some concrete way. I'd also spoken with Barbara a few weeks ago about the upcoming meeting and how I thought it was important SEMPO be ready to map out what it might do next.

So to what NFFC said:
Quote:
I think those two in particular have in some way let "us" down, Mr Sullivan and Mr Tabke need to take action to address that
I'm sorry if you feel let down. I guess I have a longer term view and would like to give SEMPO some time to grow. I think there's potential in SEMPO even to do exactly some of the stuff you suggested:

Quote:
we should be pushing the SE's to be more accountable to the webmasters that grace them with their content.
That's part of what I was suggesting in my original reputation thread, that SEMPO itself might help to serve as a check on some search engine actions. Perhaps it could do even more.

Of course, what SEMPO ultimately does (and if it succeeds) is down to the SEMPO membes themselves. My understanding is that the SEMPO members were surveyed and that some of the key issues were more educational material, help in business setup and so on. I think SEMPO has actually done some of that -- but a SEMPO board or committee member would comment better on this than I.

For the record, the stipend is news to me. As for the appointment of someone from Italy, Mike raised this issue with me several weeks ago. My reaction was basically, is SEMPO supposed to have a representative on the board from every country where it has members? If so, it's going to be a very large board indeed.

After talking with Mike, I did speak with Barbara and asked her about this. She explained that the person appointed had done a lot of work lobbying for SEMPO to grow in Europe. So the appointment seems in line with the initial appointments -- it was someone that stepped up to the plate.

As for Mike's suggestion that the entire board resign, I'd suggest something more practical. First, I don't think you want to lose your entire board all at once. But all the board members do have fixed terms. The board might want to consider moving those forward in stages, so over the coming year, voting might actually take place by the members and the whole "self-appointed" issue would be resolved. But the existing board certainly should have the right to stand again, if they want.

By all means, these or other issues should be raised at the next SEMPO meeting by the actual members of SEMPO. Whether it survives, thrives or what direction it goes is really down to them.
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Old 07-27-2004   #19
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>I'm sorry if you feel let down.

I do, like it or not you have a "position" within the industry, people look to you to lead. As the industry evolves people will be looking to you more, it's a cross you will have to carry.

>Whether it survives, thrives or what direction it goes is really down to them.

I don't think it is, they need the bulk of the SEO's behind them, or at least those that can shout loudest.

After such a bad start, and I mean bad, the thing needs nuking. Maybe somebody could start again but not with the current leadership, better to kill it dead.
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Old 07-27-2004   #20
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First off:

Quote:
but a SEMPO board or committee member would comment better on this than I.
I am on the membership committee of SEMPO. What does this mean? On occasion I sit down with Barbara and throw around ideas for SEMPO promotion and answer a few posts and emails. My time is extremely limited and as any busy SEO can attest, having the time to post, moderate or volunteer is literally extracting hours out of the day that you don't have not to mention the loss of income that you would normally be making by servicing your clientele.

I joined SEMPO after that first meeting in Boston 2003 and I believe I was one of the first out of my seat to hand a card to Barbara (who I had not met previously) to say I was interested. During that meeting there was a call for volunteers and as Danny stated, there were no promises to anyone that by donating time, it would be rewarded with a board seat. I honestly wish I had more time to devote to helping develop a body that would help get out the word of SEMPO and what its mission is to accomplish and that is to create more exposure for us so that the media and advertising agencies would take us seriously and especially give us some rationalle for increasing our rates to what interactive agencies charge to top tier clients.

Granted, SEO today is still a very young industry and as Mike speculates, a good percentage of the 'players' in this field are single consultants or micro firms. But I'll tell you what, this industry is changing and for the better. I remember sitting in a site clinic a few years back during SES and seeing the speakers dole out advice to attendees for sites like BobsDonutShop.com and MarysSewingShop.com (examples) and then fast forwarding to Boston 2003 when suddenly people began to take us seriously, when during the site clinic one of the first hands to go up was pointed to for a question and the guy said my site is www.ebay.com. To see the look on the crowds face that we had transcended into corporate America was extemely satisfying especially now when even bigger corporate names are in attendance at our trade shows and wanting to know where to start. I remember sitting at a session during Ad:Tech and watching the girl sitting behind me stand up and ask quite honestly and pointedly that she was new to search and didn't know where to start when directing her marketing people to drive traffic to their web sites. I looked at her name badge and it read "Procter & Gamble".

The world needs more information on search and what we do, to know that we provide a valuable service and for that we can charge what our counterparts in the media world charge. How many of you feel that you deserve to make what your counterparts as media buyers, creative directors or television producers make?

This is why I joined SEMPO. For one, I have patience and please, it is only been a year and during that year, tremendous strides have been made, so many speaking engagements around the world have been listened to by a curious audience (I myself attended and spoke at the little SEMPO meeting held during the Tokyo SES show - paid for out of my own pocket).

Membership has grown, case studies donated, job boards created, RFPs for SEO work by SEMPO members launched, research and surveys completed and for the first half of SEMPO's young life, most of this was done by Barbara and the Board, with a great deal coming out of her own pocket, not to mention the clients she has turned down because of her workload. I have been proud to watch Barbara work tirelessly for the cause, to see her go from conference to conference to one speaking engagement after the next spreading the word with what little she had to work with, especially in the beginning.

I think that it has been a great idea, that great networking community of SEO profesionals has developed and that even in it's infacy, great strides have been made and more to come.

The stipend? Oh please. From what Barbara has done out of her own pocket and the amount of work that she has not had time to service doesnt even compare to the stipend or referrals that she has gotten as a result. She was a successful SEO before SEMPO and certainly didn't kick start SEMPO with the thought of getting a stipend. Oh, and living in the bay area where Barbara maintains her practice is not cheap and the average worker there would have to make more than $78K to live decently.

The Board? I think we'll see more voting in the near future to include the general membership as potential candidates but in the beginning, it was those who volunteered and helped out and it was always a consensus that in the future the board membership would be open for a vote by the membership of SEMPO.

I would like to personally thank the board for their time and vision and the membership for making us what we are today - a trade organization with a future - if you'll let it.

Other organizations have attempted to achieve what SEMPO has accomplished so far but this is the first time that so many SEM firms have rallyed about each other giving out ideas and attempting to help each other out and certainly the first time to garner so much corporate support as sponsors and members including the search engines themselves. Let's give it time folks and if you have an idea or suggestion or just want to help out, please stop by the SEMPO booth during the San Jose SES conference and lets talk. I'll be working the booth on Wednesday from 12-2.
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