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oK... Now (the)Lisa is digging into the fray. I might just have to jump in with a rant myself in the comming days... so many rants, so little time... *sigh*

Bruceclay.com - As you might imagine, I disagree with Jill. Taking a look around, I think we are absolutely at the point where it’s Do or Die time for SEO standards. We don’t need the perfect search engine optimization How To guide (though I’m sure Mahalo is working on that), but we do need to outline what SEO is and what it means to optimize a Web site. We need to establish best practices, what the risk is for abandoning them, and what all these different terms that we throw around actually mean.
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from dannysullivan 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I have to sphinn just for lisa saying "Muahaha"

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from kevinheisler 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I have to sphinn just for lisa agreeing with SMX spkr Chris Boggs boggling everyone’s mind

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from BogglesMyMind 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Haha Kevin not sure if either Jill or Lisa were referring specifically to my point, as others have clamored for definitions for some time as well.  The meat of my point, again: We need more than definitions we need accepted Risk Classifications for marketers that are not SEO experts to make sound decisions for their companies.  OK well I think that the Lisa does actually reference that.  She must have blogged the session or something.For one, I am very excited that Bruce was voted on the SEMPO BOD this year because I think we are going to have a fun time with this topic.I do hope Jill doesn’t take too much heat for her stance.  It is a very compelling argument that must be fully considered.Something is making me start to think that SEO may be rocket science...

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from cre8pc 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I think Lisa did a great job expressing a different viewpoint and perspective.  I strongly dislike standards, however.  Like rules, half the fun is breaking them to see what can be learned (even if the hard way.)Both Lisa and Jill raised valid, thought provoking points that are needed now.  I’m all for a good solid debate.  I think both women have good intentions.

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from 0thelisa 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Kim, I should point out that I have no problem with people "breaking" the rules, I just think some sort of standards should exist.  It’s really more for the learning and teaching of beginners than trying to "enforce" anything. Run your SEO campaign the way you want, but know that certain tactics are considered acceptable by the engines and others aren’t. Pick which way you want to go, but be clear of the differences. Like I mentioned in the post, I’m not trying to bring anyone over to the "good" side. It’s about documenting the basics and making it available as a resource.

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from TinPig 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

excellent post which realizes, above all, that SEO is a form of advertising / marketing and like other such practices needs oversight and regulation.

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from bwelford 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I vote for Best Practices that are to be emulated rather than Standards which imply policing. Seems to me the Bruce Clay Code of Ethics is a pretty good first draft that those who want to work on this could start from.

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from Jill 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 5

Think of this guys...Do you want to not be able to offer your own services or training classes because you didn’t take SEMPO’s (or Bruce’s) (or anyone else’s)  Standards Class 101 or something to that effect?

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from 0thelisa 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Jill -- I don’t think ANYONE wants that. It’s not about creating MANDATORY SEO classes. It’s about defining WHAT we do, HOW we do it and WHY we do it so that others can use that as a resource to find the best practices and decide whether or not they want to follow them.  It’s not about policing anything. It’s about creating an educational standard. If people want to disregard that standard, that’s their choice. How many businesses get scammed each year because they trust bad SEOs simply because they didn’t know any better? Published standards leave them better informed and able to protect themselves. It’s also the first step in rebuilding the industry’s reputation.Wouldn’t it be nice for upcoming search marketers to have someone trusted they could learn from instead of having to pick apart blogs and forums and try and decide what’s true.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a set of clear definitions to go to your execs or clients with?  The industry is maturing and it needs to start taking itself more professionally. Think of all the money being thrown into search.I think Ian McAnerin said it best at SMX. SEO is a form of advertising. Standards HAVE to be set. Who do you want setting them -- Your community or people in suits?  Face it, Jill.  Your baby is growing up. :)

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from theGypsy 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Geeez.... I am on the fence so far. For me, considering I own a web development company as well (..erm... my wife does at least).. having standards such as the W3C doesn’t preclude us from performing our duties, but does give a point of reference when dealing with clients at times. Further more, even with such standards in place, there is no lack of clients with horror stories of bad providers...so would standards really change that in SEO?I think we’re talking ’standards’ here not really ’certification’ as Jill was eluding to. It should not be about SEMPO or Bruce’s ’Standards 101 Class’ as much as a seperate entity that lays down reasonable industry respected ’best practices’ -On the other hand, when search engines vary in algorithmic approaches, which they keep guarded, how can we EVER have a set of rules outside of their respective ’Terms of Service’ guidelines?.... oh.... such a pickle this is.....

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from Jill 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Lisa said:How many businesses get scammed each year because they trust bad SEOs simply because they didn’t know any better? Published standards leave them better informed and able to protect themselves. It’s also the first step in rebuilding the industry’s reputation.Tons get scammed by bad SEOs. But that’s because they don’t do their research. What makes you think they’re going to suddenly stumble upon any SEO standards that might be set, when they can’t even do any basic research on the SEO company that they put their faith into?There is plenty of great info out there right now about what good SEO is and what it isn’t. People choose to research that or they don’t. Face it, Jill. Your baby is growing up. :)I’m not arguing that. In fact, back in the day I was a big proponent of standards. We even had a hidden section on the High Rankings Forum in 2004 about creating standards or a standards organization.But then I grew up and realized it wouldn’t be possible, nor was it necessary.

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from SEOhack 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 2

i agree with Jill, and not just because i’m predisposed to doing that.  =)i see that what lisa and the others are proposing is not a governing body or anything, but what jill’s comment brought home to me is that even if there is no governing body or certification program, just by establishing "standards" we will be slipping down that slope to where if you cannot prove to a client you have taken such a class or you don’t abide by the letter of the "standard", you can’t play, or at least demand what you feel you deserve.  Besides, these standards will need to be updated so often one may accidentally be out of compliance with them and open themselves up to a lawsuit by saying they do follow them.i’ve always viewed search marketing and SEO as journalists are viewed - there are no codes of conduct as far as i know, and while you can study it at a university and major in it, it’s not like there’s a governing body as there is with doctors and attorneys. 

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from 0thelisa 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Jill. I really do hear your argument and you know I don’t try to fight with you. :) Just to be play devil’s advocate: You don’t know think part of the reason sites get scammed and aren’t informed is because there is SO much information out there in blogs and forums that they don’t know what’s right and what’s "wrong"?@SEOhack  I think the "slope" we’re hitting is the one where SEO becomes at least partially standardized, allowing it to be seen as a credible occupation and taught in college. I’d disagree that there aren’t any "codes" of conduct for journalists. There are all sorts of guidelines about how stories are written, how sources are dealth with, etc. Rules are meant to be broken, but the rules do have a purpose.

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from Jeremy 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"It’s about defining WHAT we do, HOW we do it and WHY we do it so that others can use that as a resource to find the best practices and decide whether or not they want to follow them."So who defines that, who sets the standards? Odds are people with a vested interest in promoting their methods and having them set as the "standards".I’m all for individual companies/seos defining what they do, how they do it and why it’s done...I’m just not on board with someone else’s definitions being used as any kind of standard for the industry as a whole.

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from seofactor 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"Do you want to not be able to offer your own services or training classes because you didn’t take SEMPO’s (or Bruce’s) (or anyone else’s)  Standards Class 101 or something to that effect?"I might be the odd man out, but I actually DO want that. I would love to have to prove myself with some sort of badge, showing a potential client I’m not some guy ready to scam them. And I’m really tired of seeing good people get scammed this way. If it means I would have to fork over a ton of money to be certified, so be it. It would get rid of a lot of companies. IMO. As for the research, I can’t imagine how hard it must be for a business owner to sift all the stuff online to find ligitimacy. I remember first taking SEO seriously and wanting to pursue it, and not being able to find a single answer without the need to finally test it myself. I wouldn’t ask a business owner to do that. They have other things to do. Lawyers have a cert they have to pass. So do doctors and electricians. And as the years have gone by, the consumer knows to ask for those credentials. My lawyer would never say, "you didn’t know that the contract should have been written this way? You need to research it." I wouldn’t be paying him. That’s his job. I’m just way passionate about this. I used to work for a company with over 200,000 clients, offering SEO for 90$ a month. After a year or so, I realized that it was a sham (before that I didn’t even know what SEO was). It breaks my heart to think that there are that many people, just from one company, wasting their money and there’s nothing I can do about it. I would love for an industry wide standardization/ethics/certification/code/whatever to weed some of the crap out.

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from Jill 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Lisa said: You don’t know think part of the reason sites get scammed and aren’t informed is because there is SO much information out there in blogs and forums that they don’t know what’s right and what’s "wrong"?I do think that could be part of the reason. But I think more often than not they get scammed because they’re looking for the cheapest option and don’t actually understand the value of premium SEO services.I don’t believe standards will help with that.

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from seofactor 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"It’s about defining WHAT we do, HOW we do it and WHY we do it so that others can use that as a resource to find the best practices and decide whether or not they want to follow them."So who defines that, who sets the standards? Odds are people with a vested interest in promoting their methods and having them set as the "standards".Who defined other certs. We (they) as a whole community. Surely someone could get enough niput from SEOs all over to make an accepted judgement. Hell, create a huge poll or questionnare, get it to all the SEMPO or Sphinn members. Get the results to create another poll or questionnare. Keep weeding and refining until there is enough agreement. It would never be perfect, but no system is. But if it can be widely enough accepted, then it would help more than I think people credit it.

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from Jill 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 4

Seofactor, as I just wrote in the other thread, unfortunately those that would create the standards all have their own agendas.  Which is my #5 reason why we can’t have them at this time, imo.

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from SEOhack 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@ lisa - concerning guidelines, the search engines already give us guidelines to follow, which i guess we could consider being the AP style.  The law dictates legality and contracts.  we have plenty of  "standards" already. concerning people getting ripped off, i don’t necessarily agree that we all have to do the lifting because people aren’t doing their research.  if they’re concerned aboiut their business, they should at minimum look at getting their message to the online masses like they would any other media purchase.  it’s akin to telling a copywriter they have to educate a client about reach and frequency, imo.  and as consumers, people need to do their research!!!  it isn’t that hard to find good information about legitimate tactics.  as a matter of fact, i think Jill operates one of those resources and you work for one! =)  are there really that many people running online businesses that go and buy cars just because they like the color or it was in a commercial they liked without researching things like MPG or if it’s actually functional for their needs?  because not looking into an SEM firm is kinda’ like that, isn’t it?

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from cre8pc 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Just out of curiosity, who would enforce standards? How would they be enforced? Are they intended to be?We have rules for seo’s at Cre8asiteforums, for example, against spamming our forums.  However, seo marketers do it all the time.  And if/when we ban/disable them, they whine.There are some seo’s who work quietly and effectively for their companies and aren’t out there handing out bad advice.  They wouldn’t want standards slapped on them because they likely don’t feel they need them.What is the intent of standards and rules?

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from shansen11 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Absolute agreement on some methodology to standardize our industry, protect the industry and then educate as necessary. This from a post written a few weeks ago that also puts the problem into perspective.Enter At Your Own RiskAny unregulated industry usually has severe growth pains that come with a steep price tag, a price usually paid by an unsuspecting or uneducated busines owner. I would encourage any dialogue that somehow builds a governing body in the SEM industry with the primary charge to educate the masses and penalize or expose the poor operators or rip-off artists.

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from Jill 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Interesting that my comment on Lisa’s posting over at the BC blog seems to have disappeared...

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from SEOhack 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

so, with the standards, would the search engines have a say in what is SEO and what isn’t?  if a governing body were developed, would they have a seat at the table? 

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from Jill 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

SEOhack, imo, it’s ONLY the search engines who should be at the table!

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from Jill 2216 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Here’s something pretty awesome...Danny was having this debate all the way back in 1998!  This one had a twist though.  One thought was instead of making standards or certifying SEOs, there was talk about just getting rid of organic searches all together and go strictly to paid! :)  (They didn’t use the term "organic" back then, however.)Interestingly enough, Paul Bruemmer was one of those leading the charge in ’98, and he was also one who spoke on the recent panel.  Way to hold on to something all these years, Paul! ;)

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from Kalena 2214 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Jill said: "...unfortunately those that would create the standards all have their own agendas."Amen to that Momma! I for one would buck strongly at SEMPO or another profit based training firm being given such power, including Search Engine College. The conflict of interest sh*tstorm that would create would be unbearable and accusations would taint the reputation of those involved, even if their intentions were honorable - remember the drama relating to ethics in SEMPOs first year? Until we have a completely independent board/panel consisting of government officials and nominated representatives, the argument is indeed circular, as Bruce states. Meanwhile, we have to rely on our interpretation of the search engine’s guidelines, our own experience and our voices to educate webmasters as we see fit via the various channels we /they have access to: forums, blogs, articles, media, training, conferences etc. Personally, I think we’re all doing a pretty good job.

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from Jill 2214 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I think SEMPO actually is "non-profit." That said, the board members, are most definitely "for profit!" And please don’t take this as a slam on either the board members, or SEMPO.  I think they’re doing great things these days. It’s just that there is a certain amount of credibility bestowed upon board members of any organization. Why do you think it’s a worthwhile endeavor to become a board member? (This is not to say that there aren’t many other good other reasons, such as the good of the community, etc.)In the end, as I’ve previously stated, the only people or group that can impose standards on search engine optimizers are the search engines themselves. They should either allow particular tactics or not.  And there you have your standards.It’s really as simple as that.

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from semscholar 2214 Days ago #
Votes: 1

IMHO there is no way to set standards in an industry that is so new and constantly changing. Do you really think Google and the other search engine can set standards? Don’t you think the webaster guidelines are already standards and they change the standards regularly based on what they think makes them better (or more money). Nofollow paid links is nothing more than, "don’t buy links from them, buy them from us". We don’t need no stinkin’ standards!

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from Jill 2214 Days ago #
Votes: 0

semscholar, the search engines have already set standards.  It’s called their algorithm!

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from Dudibob 2213 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I was thinking we need standards to help stop spammers and help younger people get involved in the industry, but Jill your winning me overI think one example of why not to make standards is paid links.What view would standards take on these? If we’re for then we’re Googles public enemy number 1, if we’re against then we loose a pretty handy option. 

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from FionnD 2209 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Kalena, SEMPO and the SEMPO Institute are ’non profit".  I was a founder of the SEMPO Institute and never at any time did I ever see setting standards as a way to sell courses, neither did any of the other founders or contributors and I was there right from the start.  So please let’s put that to bed.  Paul Brummer was also one of the founders and Paul has been talking about standards since 1998 long before SEMPO existed.   I gave hundreds of hours of volunteer time borne our of sheer frustration as a business in this industry unable to grow and develop because there was no training available that at that time that was not being offered by a competitor. I come from a training background and was horrified that we were in a multi billion dollar industry where it was was the norm to be self taught.  Some of these individuals and pioneers of the industry were exceptional professionals Jill being one of them but there are many many more out there taking complete advantage of an uneducated pool of consumers and this is where I s see standards making a difference.I don’t care if Joe Blow SEO uses four keywords in his title tag, and Jane Doe SEO uses 10 but I do care about the consumers who are getting fleeced daily by unscrupulous SEO’s taking advantage of the free for all and lack of consumer awareness.  I also care about being lumped together with these unethical businesses because I happen to provide SEO.  I do think its time for guidelines, but I see them as protecting the consumer more than how to do SEO types of standards.  Now how do we do it that is the burning question.I also agree with Jill that the search engines already have standards they are called guidelines and their algorithm.  So for me its not about How to its about raising the bar for the industry and setting some practitioner standards which will help consumers establish who the good and bad are.  How about we start with a consumer guide and take it from there.  As long as the #1 rule is all consumers must first call Me I am good with it......................

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from Jill 2208 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Since having many further discussions on this topic over at our High Rankings Forum, it’s become clear to me that SEMPO, as a non-profit organization for search marketers, could and should very well create a set of standards that their members must agree to before becoming a member.That’s the way other industries do it; it’s not an industry thing, but an organizational thing. If SMA-NA still existed, they too could and should create their own set of standards for their members. That way those who choose to be members of those organizations would indeed have to abide by the standards set forth by the organization. That simply makes sense.  SEMPO may already have some standards in place.SEMPO standards would of course only apply to SEMPO members. That’s a key point here. If eventually the industry changed enough that anyone practicing search marketing of one form or another needed to become a SEMPO member (through market forces that demanded it, i.e., nobody would hire them without the SEMPO seal) then so be it. But it’s the market that would decide that. I stand firmly by my original stance that the industry as a whole should not and could not have some sort of standards body or board lorded over them.

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from FionnD 2208 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Jill,  I agree and would take it one step further to say that SEMPO should manage the process but the actual setting of the standards for its members should be conducted by an independnt third party not in the field of SEM.  This third party should be a reputable credible organization who has done the same work in other fields.  SEMPO can provide the process management but the actual final standards should come from a third party.  If SEMPO were to devise the standards using its own board or existing members there is alays going to be a credibility issue for other markerers that it may be biased or skewed by any one member or individual.

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from Jill 2207 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@FionnD those are very good points and one I’m sure that the SEMPO board and SEMPO members will have to wrestle with if/when they decide to do the standards thing for SEMPO.

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