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Interesting article on SEO standards.
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from bwelford 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Thoughtful article from Jill Whalen.  Clearly if they can’t even make standards work all that well for browsers, it would be foolhardy to attempt to define them for SEO.

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from nelisx 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 2

sounds like they are running out of stuff to talk about at these confrences...

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from EricPender 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I’m not sure where I stand on the issue, but I think another arguement against SEO standards would be how fast the industry changes.  It invariably takes much discussion and deliberation to come up with standards in <i>any</i> industry, let alone the rapidly evolving world of SEO.  Given that what works today may not work six months from now (or next week, for that matter!) it would be difficult to draft a set of standards that would be able to evolve as fast as the industry.

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from seofactor 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 0

As much as I love you, Jill, I have to disagree. You’re right, there are a ton of ways to provide SEO, so maybe a review and standardization of methods isn’t prudent. But we can all agree that titles are important to an extent; that links matter, that keywrods research is important (and common metrics to look for while researching keywords). We can agree that buying links can work, but carry an ever-growing risk. Hell, we can look at the last 300 posts on Sphinn and see common trends amongst almost everyone’s stance. Though technique probably shouldn’t be in question, I think a standardization of basic understanding is in order. An industry standard with a review process and a "cert" would really cut down on the "my web guy, who is my brother’s friend in college, said that I just need a keywords tag." I would be able to say (much like a doctor or lawyer) "did you check their qualifications?"Law is the same. One lawyer might approach a case one way, where another a different way. But in the end, the law is the law. There are presedents and hard rules, but there are always loopholes and faults. Lawyers have to become board certified, why not us?More importantly, maybe this will help me match my lawyer’s fees with my clients.

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from theGypsy 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Since we have dupes of this story submit, figured I’d transfer the links to this convo;Session Coverage<font color="#186318">http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/016372.html</font> and <font color="#186318">http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/archives/2008/02/seo_standards.html</font>More on the topic of Standards;<font color="#186318">http://seo-theory.com/wordpress/2008/02/29/are-we-ready-to-create-seo-standards/</font><font color="#186318">http://seo-theory.com/wordpress/2008/01/29/we-have-a-critical-need-for-seo-standards/</font><font color="#186318">http://searchengineland.com/080222-160051.php</font><font color="#186318">http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=3628590</font>

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from grasshopper 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 3

as jill points out, individual webmasters and SEO consultants operate according to their own (or their clients’) definition of acceptable risk.  engines arbitrate based on guidelines they define.  beyond that, what’s necessary?what would even be the point of "standards"?  creating standards implies some sort of third-party regulatory or policing mechanism that doesn’t, won’t, and can’t exist at web scale.  there’s nothing more ridiculous and impotent than creating unenforceable rules just for the sake of saying "now we have standards". 

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from VirtuosiMedia 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Instead of standardizing SEO methods, why not standardize SEO testing techniques? As the search engines change their algorithms, the methods of SEO are going to change, but the ways that we test them will not. Then, once there is an established standard for testing each SEO method, we can then recommend current SEO best practices.

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from stuntdubl 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Amen Jill - if someone has enough time to write all about standardization - and figure out that much about it - they probably don’t really "get it" imho.

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from incrediblehelp 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Sure we can have some standards like each page should have a title attribute, but I though people from the W3 already tell us that?  With the customization for each client, the different approaches all of us take to get to the end goals for clients and the lack of agreement on so many different SEO "techniques", it would be hard to create SEO standards that any of us would actually adhere to.

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from BogglesMyMind 2400 Days ago #
Votes: -1

Thanks for moving the links over gypsy.  I want to also re-include my earlier comments that I wish that Jill would have addressed the idea that at least getting an accepted glossary/risk rating system would be a good start for marketers.  They should be able to make their tactical decisions based on an understanding of the risk levels of various methodologies.Jill is probably right that the existence of consensus industry accepted seo standards is not very likely.

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from theGypsy 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 2

NP Boggles... it’s all about the conversations... not the Sphinns... :0)

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from BogglesMyMind 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 0

too bad you can’t just merge the one you started at practically the same time into this one...

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from TinPig 2400 Days ago #
Votes: 0

as a form of marketing, however, SEO is entirely wide open where other more traditional marketing practices are more regulated. i don’t think that "market forces" are enough to manage the problem and so while we probably don’t need standards around the "right" ways to accomplish SEO, it’s a different story when looking to control questionable tactics.

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from Jill 2399 Days ago #
Votes: -1

"...where other more traditional marketing practices are more regulated."Like which ones, TinPig? I am not aware of there being marketing regulations.

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from SportsGuy 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Sorry, Jill - I disagree.In fact, the sooner this industry gets standards, the better, IMO.  The search industry is fine, it seems, to plod along as is.  Those who know, do - and make good money doing.  But, where is the investment in the industry itself?If all we all do is take, what happens down the road?  Many would say, "Who cares?  I got mine..."I’m the type of person who does care.  Altruistic as it sounds, I do believe in helping the industry grow and I think standards would enable the search industry to take a critical - and dneeded - step forward as a legit slice of the pie. Right now we all live in our small world of SEO-this and SEM-that - we know the players, we know the space, etc.  Trouble is, there’s so few of us (relatively) that we’d hardly amount to a blip on the radar.So, with all the money coming online in the coming years, there’s every chance that those ocntroling those budgets will want proof that their money is wisely invested...and having testimonials on websites won’t likely be the big ticket answer to securing a large slice of that extar 40% or so GM is throwing into online v. traditional media next year.Saying "I’m white hat" seems so... ’from the sandbox’.  Like someone claiming legitimacy out loud, if you will.Standards would allow the industry as a whole to claim a stake at the marketing table.  PR is a stand alone discipline - hell, there are dedicated courses and schools for this one area of marketing.  SEO/SEM skill sets are, I’d argue, even more laser focused than PR skills, but without the broader recognition that standards allow, everyone is bound by "decency" to rep themselves in a sea of static.Geez, I’ve been doing this stuff over 7 years now and I still find that most time when someone says an agency name, I’ve never heard fo them - and as an in-houser, I’ve been pitched by too many to recall.A Yahoo logo, or GAP certifcation is one step, but those, plus many of the training programs online today, should all roll up towards something bigger.We all know the best practices of search, so rationally speaking, if the engines agree to the standards, and work on furture changes that work with those standards, we’d be in a better place.Is it a tough job - hell yes.  Is it going to happen quickly, hell no.Does it need to happen - absolutely... and as the old arguement goes, if the industry doesn’t police itself, someone’s bound to step in and do it for us.So, would you rather help craft the standards, know & support those doing the work, or leave it up to the "Respected representative from the great state of Iowa" to manage this for us?  Because we know his 112 years of congressional service will undoubtedly have helped him become an SEM expert. ;)*Please keep in mind folks - I have nothing but respect for Jill - this post is a counterpoint to challenge thinking on this topic, NOT anything personal. :)  Jill answered many a question for me back in the day at SES shows, and I still owe thanks for her helping me to learn the basics. :)

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from Hobo 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 1

A great cucinct snippet from Jill’s brain.

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from traffick 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 2

As an ex poli sci type I have to agree with Jill’s argument. One of my reasons: the history of regulatory bodies shows that you have to work very hard to prevent them from creating de facto cartels of a few players, rather than truly regulating standards. In other words, on the surface it says regulator, in reality it has the potential to be more or less corrupt. Impartiality is a huge issue in such matters. Does our young industry have it in itself to handle this well? Not in my opinion, not yet. The shifting terrain of what counts as good practices specifically in SEO makes it potentially a comical exercise in rapid obsolescence. Meanwhile, there are perfectly good laws in place, and broader business ethical practices, that any marketing company should adhere to.

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from Kalena 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Just found this. I agree with Jill’s post too. Creating standards is not going to get rid of shoddy SEOs or make them switch hats. Industry veterans will understand this. Education and publicity has always been the solution but it just took some of us years to work that out.

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from mcanerin 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I completely disagree. Standards are to protect the public (and SEO’s from the public), not to protect SEO’s from other SEO’s or search engines.Point by Point Rebuttal:http://mcanerin.blogspot.com/2008/03/search-standards.htmlIan

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from Hannah 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I’m with you mcnarein - standards are there to protect the public and currently there are many shady operators who do damage to the reputation of the industry as a whole.

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from seofactor 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I like it mccanerin. It’s over here.

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from Jill 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Ian, I’m confused a bit by your post. Mostly, I’m not sure what made you think I (or anyone else) was thinking that standards are to protect SEOs from other SEOs.  Where was that said?Also, in your rebuttal, you said:Arguing that they would prevent innovation is assuming that the standards would be written in such a way as to prevent innovation, then knocking it down. That’s a false assumption.Who was arguing that standards would prevent innovation? I certainly never said that nor thought it.In regards to the definitions, it would seem to me that if a client isn’t sure what the SEO person means by something in their contract, that they should ask for it to be better defined in the contract, no?  I’ve had clients who have indeed asked me to spell out every detail in the contract. It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s smart for the client because then they definitely have something to hold you to. Again, I don’t see why we need standards for that.  Why do people need specific protections from SEOs?

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from mcanerin 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"In regards to the definitions, it would seem to me that if a client isn’t sure what the SEO person means by something in their contract, that they should ask for it to be better defined in the contract, no? "Jill, the problem comes in when the client IS sure what the terms mean, but in fact their definition is different from the SEO’s. Why would they feel a need to ask for specific clarification if they feel they already know what you mean?That’s a serious issue. You yourself acknowledge in your article that your definition of "SEO" is very different from what other SEO’s use. Is it so hard to believe that a client may also have a different definition, and therefore not bother or know enough to ask for clarification?You can’t ask for clarification of every word in the English language, just in case the other fellow defines them differently. Nothing would ever get accomplished. That’s why dictionaries exist. They are a standard for the language. We need standards in order to communicate effectively.Ian

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from Jill 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Ian, I’d be interested in hearing more about your plan for how we would start creating these standards. Have you outlined this anywhere? I did listen to you speak on the standards panel, and you and I have had conversations about this through the years, but I’m curious as to what your actual plan would be if the whole standards thing were to move forward.(P.S. I was hoping that my posting this on the HR forum would get you to see it and respond! :)

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from mcanerin 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"P.S. I was hoping that my posting this on the HR forum would get you to see it and respond!"*grin* It did!The article you wrote was such a succinct and well written description of the most common objections to standards that it was the first time in a long time that I’ve been able to respond with my own views properly.As for a plan, I’ll put some thought into it and post a proposed roadmap to standards later today. No sense having an opinion if you can’t back it up with an action plan. :)Ian

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from mevans 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Ian:  "standards are not about SEO’s and search engines. I don’t care about search engine guidelines (you need a standard to have a guideline, anyway). No, standards are about the public." Right on the money, baby!  Standardization/best practice is a must - for the public (and the industry).As a relative newbie to the industry (i.e., an outsider still kinda looking in) it appears the industry is wanting to standardize the process of SEO - a tough task given such a rapidly and continually evolving field, not to mention changing algorithms that the SEs ultimately control.  Again, as a newbie I am surprised (or have not found - ? - very possible) that the industry does not have a Standardizing Board that acts on a larger industry wide basis - not for process, but best practice.  All the great metrics that can be tracked yet no standard best practice towards the interpretation of that data. IAB is out there for advertising/format, but what about all the things (video, multi-media, etc) that make up the "end user experience" (public) of using this medium vs. another?  Not to mention the buyers!  Example:  the print world has the PIA, Billboard/Media has TAB (Canada has COMB).  Goofy acronyms yes, but each is made up of prominent players (who are often times direct competitors...Google, Yahoo?) that discuss + build best practice around multiple facets of their respective industry (technology, sales, methodology, etc). This brings key players in the biz together to create best practice/standardization for the purpose of the public, for buyers within those industries, as well as the health of the industry as a whole.   So yup, I think standardization is important.  But the process will always change.  Good news - this is still such a young industry (relative to examples as mentioned above...). Again - some observations from out looking in.  Ian - can’t wait to see your plan! Mark

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from TimDineen 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I disagree that we don’t need standards... but maybe calling them standards isn’t suitable.  I wouldn’t have a problem, at all, with a "Code of Ethics" - in fact I’d think it’d be good for the industry to endorse such... Maybe setting standards is too rigid of a description of what is needed. But a Code of Ethics (Though shalt not 1,2,3,10) could be a real simple way for SEO practitioners to label themselves, to clients, as one type of SEO vs. the other.And if the SEO doesn’t abide by living up to that code, then the client would have a little recourse, maybe - but that’s another topic.

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from Jeremy 2399 Days ago #
Votes: 1

My standards have and always will be set by my customers - internal or external.  I don’t see any need for standards beyond those.

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from Jill 2398 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Part of the problem is that the only people at this point who could come up with these standards (or code of ethics) all have their own agendas as they are part of various search marketing firms.If, and this is a big IF, there could be some impartial board that did not have any actual ties to any search marketing company, then perhaps that might work.But I don’t see how that could happen.That’s really a big issue I have with this whole thing. The lack of impartiality.

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from Jeremy 2398 Days ago #
Votes: 1

"If, and this is a big IF, there could be some impartial board that did not have any actual ties to any search marketing company, then perhaps that might work."Could not agree more, and I think that’s a GIGANTIC IF. I’ve personally never met anyone fluent enough in search marketing to form a set a set of standards/ethics/guidlines that doeesn’t have a financial interest (direct or indirect) in the industry itself.

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from Kalena 2398 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It’s interesting to see how personally some people are taking this: http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/archives/2008/03/seo_standards.html. I don’t mean to seem ageist, but I too recall the days when I took SEO scamming quite personally and made it my own little agenda to hunt, expose and ridicule dodgy SEO/SEM firms in an effort to save the great unwashed masses from themselves and rid the industry of it’s shoddy reputation in the media. These days, most people (with the exception of AMEX staff) *get* that SEOs aren’t out to rip them off. I educate as many people as I can about what tactics to avoid rather than who to avoid. I think this is more of an issue of Buyer Beware than anything else. Standards are a nice idea, but they can’t be discussed in isolation when we don’t have a governing body to determine or implement them.

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from Jill 2398 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It appears that’s a 404 page, Kal.

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from TimDineen 2398 Days ago #
Votes: 0

A period at the end of Kalena’s sentence broke the url. Here is the link:http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/archives/2008/03/seo_standards.html

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from TimDineen 2398 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I can appreciate Jeremy’s comment that standards are different for each client.  However... when I worked with many clients I always told them my polcies and how far I was willing to go... I told them my policies were for their benefit and offered the best long-term chance at gaining exposure in the SEs. Period. If a client asked about something that was a breach of my beliefs I said no. Period. If they didn’t trust my judgement they didn’t have to use my services. And I simply didn’t want to waste my time on something I didn’t feel would work in the long run.The other question is whether the clients actually know that your standards are different for them than with other clients.. Hopefully they are being told that you may be crossing some lines that you might not with other clients... that way if they are ever penalized they’ll have at least been a part of the conversation and decision to go in that direction.

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from yetanotherben 2171 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I’m late to the party unfortunately, but I’ve been thinking about writing about the topic in my blog...the jist of it might be along the lines of playing around with the ideas of good communication of seo practices ot clients as opposed to designating black, greay and white hat practices.  This would only only really help consultants and agencies but would go some way towards creating ’standards’ or simply agree on ’good practice’.  As one example: "An SEO consultant must clarify the risks of optimising websites"...in the same way financial services must...Just a thought...

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