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Kalena worries that a new SEM rating site may be asking for trouble, but rating sites exist in many industries. I tend to trust the SMS gang to be able to pull this off, but Kalena’s concerns are certainly valid. Do you think this SEM review site can handle the heat, or do you think Kalena’s prediction of implosion will come true?
Comments44 Comments  

Comments

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from Kalena 2396 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I’d be very interested in hearing other’s opinions of this site. There hasn’t been much on Sphinn about it yet except for a couple of announcement posts. Your thoughts?

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from theGypsy 2396 Days ago #
Votes: 2

lol - U gotta be kidding me right? So I can hire a gang of offshore monkeys to go by (spoofed IPs) and whack attack all the competition? I Love It.....

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from Jill 2396 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Great review, Kal. I saw this site the other day and was also concerned.One of my concerns, which you didn’t mention, was whether SEM/SEO firms would be able to buy their way to the top or to good reviews? To me, the site looks like one of those kind. You know like that other really bad and stupid "awards" type site that allegedly rates/ranks the best sem firms in the industry. It’s a total scam as the only websites that they choose are those that choose to pay them big bucks.Unfortunately, the general public may not know it’s a scam, which is why some SEM firms just pay the bribe fee. I certainly hope this SEM Compare doesn’t turn into that, but my feeling in looking at it, was that this could be where it was headed. Cuz that is certainly a lucrative business model.Added:Oh, and also, from the little bit of legal knowledge I have, the fact that they’re vetting some of the reviews, is actually going to hurt them because they’re opening themselves up to getting sued. Either they check them out and delete the ones that are false, or they don’t. If they’re deleting some but not others, I believe they will be held liable for any false accusations that do get published.I sure hope they have a good attorney on hand, cuz they’ll definitely need one.

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from Kalena 2396 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@ Jill - yeah I did mention the potential legal ramifications to them. It’s interesting, because the SEM firm that slapped Mktg Sherpa with a lawsuit has a not so pretty review sitting on this new site - a ticking timebomb if you ask me. I didn’t notice the Vendor market thingy on the site until after I’d written the review and that is also a concern - but I don’t think that reviews are ranked based on whether a site has paid to be in the vendor market. Unfortunately, it does seem to be a lead generator of sorts. Yep, I know the awards site you’re referring to - it’s interesting to see that our site is quite often featured in there, but we did not pay a single cent to that site and did not ask to be included. I don’t really take any notice of them.

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from Jill 2395 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Hehe...well that awards site won’t list me anywhere since I once told them to go to hell and stop spamming me!

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from DazzlinDonna 2395 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Surely there is some way to deal with this.  There are review sites for every other industry out there (travel, restaurants, etc).  What makes our industry any different?  I’m assuming SMS people had the smarts to follow whatever standards exist for the other review sites.  Wouldn’t you think?  Or am I just a pollyanna?

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from Kalena 2395 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Well I’m not sure about travel, but restaurants etc have strict industry guidelines and food handling laws to follow, don’t they? Plus they have like a industry star rating (chef’s hat rating or something). I’m just thinking out loud here but I would imagine this would make any legal issues a bit more black and white.  

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from semscholar 2395 Days ago #
Votes: 2

I don’t think you can compare travel and restaurant reviews with reviews of sem agencies. It’s a totally different scale, millions of people travel and eat and can provide feedback but how many people use sem companies and how many will post reviews. This system is totally open for abuse and will be abused. It’s too bad cause I really like these guys and have contributed to SMS in the past. I would advise anyone in the system to flood it with positive reviews by your clients just in case someone writes or fakes a bad one. @jill, that award site is a joke but I wonder how many companies base their decisions on those ratings. They look pretty impressive. They even claim to talk to clients and I know for sure there’s no way they did.  

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from borismordkovich 2395 Days ago #
Votes: 6

Hi everyone,   Boris from SEMCompare here! Just noticed this Sphinn discussion and wanted to chime in to clarify a few of the concerns that have been brought up in Kalena’s post and among the commentators.   Firstly, I do want to thank everyone for their comments, feedback and concerns. Positive or negative, they are always welcomed and appreciated.   Let’s begin by addressing the issue of standards in the industry, what MarketingSherpa has done (since they were brought up) and where SEMCompare comes in.   Kalena, in your post you were correct that there are currently no search industry standards nor there is any formal institution imposing those standards. Whether that changes in the future remains to be seen, but in the meantime, it creates a problem. You have 100s of various agencies out there offering the same services (at least on paper - the results, of course, typically vary quite a bit). And then you have customers that have a very difficult time selecting the right agency for themselves due to lack of any information about them. In most cases, there is really no way to know how good a firm is without trying them out - and since SEM is a long-term process, it can wind up to be a costly mistake.   In fact, part of the reason why SEMCompare was launched in the first place was because we had dozens of people over the last year ask us to recommend an SEM agency to them. Because we did not have any direct experience with most of them (we knew many of them, but haven’t actually used them), we did not feel comfortable making a recommendation and felt that there should be a better way. That’s how the concept came about.   Now, there are a lot of ways that you could go about doing "rankings". MarketingSherpa, I think, went their own way with their report. While it’s far from perfect, it offered a useful resource and starting point - where previously there was none. In the link that you referred to, even Danny Sullivan said: "... MarketingSherpa’s guide is a resource I’d highly recommend to those seeking an SEM firm. It’s not perfect, but it provides an excellent starting point for services offered and an initial list of firms. The rating system must be overhauled. An emphasis on client lists and customer comments may be a move in the right direction."   He actually brought up an interesting point. MarketingSherpa’s biggest problem was that they haven’t used most of the firms they reviewed! That’s why their rankings were a bit problematic, since they were based on the criteria developed solely by the author - which is very subjective. What Danny has pointed out, is that by enabling customers of those agencies to offer feedback may be a move in the right direction.   When we started off with SEMCompare, we knew right away what we did NOT want to be.   We did NOT want to start another website giving a Top 10 SEM Firms list. I feel that those lists do more harm than good since they claim to be something they are not. For example, I come from a web hosting background and within that industry, you can find a dozen websites offering Top 10 Web Host Lists - with the rankings determined solely on the commission paid out to the owner of the site. I think that’s harmful to the readers because these sites never disclose what their rankings are truly based on.   We also did not want to come up with our own "standards" and rank everybody based on them because it’s very arbitrary. Most of the times, you really don’t know how good a firm is until you use them. After all, everybody claims to be the best at what they do. Besides, MarketingSherpa has already done a good job at conducting research and putting together background information on what they feel are the best firms.   So, what we realized is that user-generated reviews offer the most value to potential customers that are seeking information on SEM firms. It’s something that most other industries already do (whether it’s Lawyers at www.avvo.com, Venture Capitalists at www.thefunded.com, or Contractors at www.angieslist.com) and there is no reason why it can’t work for SEM firms. Granted, there are certain concerns regarding the methodology and the "trust" factor - which I’ll address further down - but the concept itself is proven and can offer a lot of value. The important part is to present it for what it is - reviews site based on the reviews submitted by other people (NOT editorial reviews or rankings written by SEMCompare staff).   In your post, you also wrote: "... At the end of the day we can’t really endorse or condone reviews on the site.” What? So you aren’t endorsing your own site content? Then why bother creating a site around such content at all?..."   This is a very important point. Our job is to be a platform for other people’s content. Much like a forum or even Sphinn itself. After all, does the management of an online community always agrees or endorses the content being published on it by other people? Does Third Door Media agrees or disagrees with what is written in these comments on Sphinn? In both of these examples, the responsibility of the platform is to provide a fair way for everyone to contribute their thoughts - not to be the judge of what’s right or wrong.   Furthermore, we are not even claiming that our ratings are a standard by which SEM firms should be measured. All we’re doing is giving the consumers a way to rate what THEY feel THEIR experience with that particular company was. When we get a review for a company that has a rating of 4.5 (out of 5), all it claims is that the particular person that wrote the review had an experience that he would rate as 4.5 (and then explain why in his actual review).   The next big issue that was brought up is how do we prevent manipulation and abuse of the system. This is definitely a very valid concern and something that we spent a great deal of time thinking about.   The first important point to mention is that while the reviews are somewhat anonymous to the public (we only display a "nickname" a reviewer chooses to give), we do collect their personal information (full name, email, website address, etc.).   We don’t display this information because many of our reviewers are still using the company they are reviewing and we don’t want them to be exposed. However, internally, all of this information is used quite extensively. For example:   - We won’t approve reviews from free email addresses or from people that don’t supply a valid website address. This ensures that we know the identity of every reviewer.   - If a review appears to be suspicious, we will contact the reviewer to verify their identity.   - We implement a number of techniques to prevent companies from reviewing themselves or their competitors. It’s a bit off-topic, but one of our sister companies specializes in click fraud detection and prevention, so we have a lot of experience in that area and are able to apply many of the same techniques to SEMCompare.   We don’t claim that the system is perfect and I do think that there is a lot of room for us to grow and expand. But just because of that, I don’t think that it’s fair to disqualify the concept or the site itself. Technology takes time to be improved and there is no way to do it without actually getting started.   The next concern I’d like to address is the legal aspect (I appreciate this concern - if others worry about our well-being, we must be doing something right :)).   As Kalena pointed out, there were some legal issues with the Marketing Sherpa’s guide. The thing is that the two products have one critical difference.   MarketingSherpa had a person that went out, done their research, and wrote a comprehensive report on their findings. Then, they packaged it together and sold it. They were a Publisher of that content.   SEMCompare, on their other hand, is a distributor of third party content. What does that mean? In a nutshell, that we simply serve as a platform for people to share their opinions. Provided that we do not edit content to the extent that it alters its meaning, we have legal protection - as a distributor of 3rd party content - under Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act.   Many of you are bloggers. We can draw a parallel here - if somebody goes on your blog and posts a comment that offends somebody... they would not be able to get a case against you because you are not liable for the comments on your blog.   This issue is critical. This immunity is what allows all UGC sites, whether it’s forums, sites like Sphinn, or even bloggers - to operate without the fear of being sued for everything that’s being written. Of course, there are certain rules involved (if you are interested in a great summary of CDA 230, check out http://www.citmedialaw.org/resources/primer-section-230-communications-decency-act), but it’s important to understand how the overall immunity works.   My own question in response to this would be - is the fact that consumers have a forum to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the companies they’ve worked with and certain companies may not be happy with that justifies the dismissal of that forum as a whole? We certainly don’t want to be sued or threatened by anybody, but does this mean that we shouldn’t have created the site because of that fear?   Finally, I’ll conclude my response by addressing another "sticky" point - monetization of the website. Throughout Kalena’s post and the comments, there were a few concerns brought up regarding that.   First, I think I should make it very clear that there is absolutely, positively no way that an SEM firm can buy a top ranking, buy themselves a good review or pay to have a bad one removed, or anything even remotely similar to that. Not only would this open us up to a lot of legal issues, but this would be unethical, misleading and is simply not something that we would do. Our audience’s trust is more important than any short-term financial gain. In fact, we don’t even put banner ads on this website because we don’t want it to appear that we’re endorsing one company over another.   That being said, we are a business and need to earn revenue to pay our employees and to continue providing our services. I think it’s understandable and something that everyone can agree with. So, when we developed the site, we looked at a number of potential monetization techniques to decide what would best for this concept.   We finally settled on a concept and created a side service called VendorMatch. Through this service, we connect people interested in SEM services with vendors that can meet their needs. This service has no effect on reviews, is marketed separately and is completely optional to use. Some people come to the site because they are doing research on a specific firm, while others are shopping around and use this service because it saves them time and money. I’m not entirely sure why this was referred to as "unfortunate" in the comments, but I would certainly be more than happy to discuss it further.   Whew... sorry, guys, for making this so long. I just wanted to address all of the issues because it’s important for us to make it clear where we come from, what our line of thinking is, and what we wish to achieve with this website.   On a side note, I remember that when we launched Search Marketing Standard, we received quite a few comments saying that it would never work. I believe we were able to change a few minds over the years with SMS, so I think that we’ll be able to do it with SEMCompare, as well.   Best, Boris Mordkovich

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from Kalena 2395 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@ Boris - glad to hear that you seem to have all your legal ducks in a row, but I don’t think that will protect the site from sinking. But I appreciate the time you’ve put into your response here and for clarifying some of the foggier issues. Best of luck with the venture.

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from Jill 2395 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Thanks, Boris, for taking the time to provide us with that comprehensive info about what you’re doing with the site and your reasons behind it. That definitely clears up a lot of unknowns. It will be interesting to see how it goes for you over the next few years, and I wish you good luck! (And no law suits!) ;)

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from Gab 2395 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Boris, that was an AWESOME response and addressed the strongest questions about your service. I was dubious reading this at first, but ... wow! Excellent.BTW, are you Igor’s brother? I used to subscribe to his blog (5-bloggers-from-sphinn-and-youmoz-that-you-must-rss) but then he stopped posting for a while...

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from DazzlinDonna 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I had a feeling Boris and the team had done their homework first.  I didn’t know the details (glad I do now), but my gut told me that they had things covered pretty well.  Now, Boris, you just need to make sure that the site conveys those excellent answers so people who aren’t reading this thread can also know what we now know.  :)

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from g1smd 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 1

It’s still a difficult area.  I can remember the times when TrafficPower and TrafficLogic were throwing their weight around trying to get various negative comments suppressed; accusations which were later confirmed as being true and accurate.  I can still see this getting messy when some well-known names get called out again in the future.  Best of luck anyway.

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from Jill 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 0

That’s very true, g1smd. And I can tell you for certain that if there is ever a negative review of my company put up there that is not specifically from a client who I know (and confirmed by me as such), there will be calls and letters from my attorney.

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from NickWilsdon 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Thanks for the reply Boris, it’s good of you to explain all that in such detail. I would also like to know a little about your editorial policy for the site. Are you planning to put company names in page titles? I would hope not. I can understand, coming from an SEO background that this maybe second nature, but I would advise against it. Also, please give plenty of thought to allowing companies to reply to critics. Preferably at a comment by comment level. I personally don’t think lawsuits are either viable or effective against this kind reputation management but I would always appreciate the chance to respond to a customer complaint and see if it can be resolved. After all, isn’t this why the person complained in the first place?

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from semanjoe 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Another concern that I have that I don’t think has been discussed is the conflict of interest in asking a client to review your agency and knowing that SEMCompare exists.A positive review is great, but exposure to your compeitiion is not so.

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from TimDineen 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Congrats to Boris and SMS for trying where others have been unable to suceed.

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from smallbiztrends 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Not long ago I judged a technology awards.  One of the categories was "Best SEM/SEO Firm".  Of all the categories, that turned out to be the hardest to judge -- by far. All the finalists were top-notch. The most difficult part for the judging panel was just figuring out WHAT to measure.  I think businesses have a very very confusing time trying to figure out how to hire SEM/SEO firms, for that very same reason:  WHAT, exactly, do you measure?  That point may be obvious to SEO/SEM pros, but it’s baffling to those who don’t know the discipline.  Reading the reviews on SEM Compare was somewhat helpful in giving clues as to what to look for, what to watch out for, and so on.  However, what would be more helpful is if the site also included some kind of checklist for each category, to use as a baseline.

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from mike.tekula 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I think the idea, in concept, isn’t an inherently bad one, but I do see a lot of potential issues that Boris, for no lack of thoroughness, hasn’t been able to dispell in my mind. UGC is great, but I think it always gets away to some to degree from the site owners/operators. I think NickWilsdon brought up a good point above, and I’d like to reiterate it - if reviews are to be optimized so that when a user searches for a company’s name negative reviews, that may or may not be legitimate, start showing up in the first page of search results, I can see this going down a bad road. "We are not even claiming that our ratings are a standard by which SEM firms should be measured. All we’re doing is giving the consumers a way to rate what THEY feel THEIR experience with that particular company was." My concern is not that you are purporting your ratings to be a standard for measurement - although I would question whether you can fully promote the site and its utility without inherently suggesting this. My main concern is that competitors, disgruntled former employees, etc may use SEMCompare as a high ranking platform for slander.  I’ve seen some nasty blog comments from former employees at a few well-known SEM agency blogs, and while those comments may have no legimiate basis and can easily be removed they certainly won’t help the agency land any new contracts.  What makes RipOffReport.com, for example, such a problem for many companies is not that RipOffReport.com claim to be setting a standard - they are using UGC as well - but that their reports end up on page one of search results for [insert company name]. The reports aren’t necessarily legitimate and may in fact be baseless or fabricated, but the simple fact that they rank so prominently suggests authority and validity to the search user.As long as SEMCompare can’t effectively assuage the fears/concerns of SEM firms they will lack their support - and that support will prove crucial.

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from DarkMatter 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 1

My guess is you’re going to draw 2 types of reviews predominantly: shills, and disgruntled customers. It’s a tricky thing to have a site like this in an industry where online reputation management is a common component of the skillset.

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from borismordkovich 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Thank you everyone for your continued feedback and comments!@NickWilson - providing the companies with an ability to respond to comments is definitely something that we plan on integrating in the near future. It’s been on our agenda since the beginning, but it will just take a bit of time to get that developed.I’d be curious to learn as to why you advise against putting company names in the page titles?In terms of the editorial policy, I’d be more than happy to clarify any issues. Do you have any specific questions regarding it?@semanjoe - you bring up an interesting point. However, I think it’s pretty reasonable to assume that your clients are aware of the fact that you are not the only SEM firm out there. Especially if they’ve done any research prior to hiring you, they’ve already been exposed to competition. But since they are already using your services and are happy with them, there is no reason why SEMCompare would encourage them to switch.@Jill - fair enough. I see the issue that you have with anonymity factor. But just in the hypothetical sense, let’s take that element away and assume that you would know the identity of the person making the review. Would you still be inclined to go after SEMCompare? And if so, on what grounds? Just playing devil’s advocate here :)@g1smd - I definitely remember those times. The issue here, however, is not with the comments themselves, but with the fact, that those companies wanted to control any conversation about them that took place  and certainly did not want to see any negative comments about them. But that’s not realistic - every company out there can and will get positive and negative feedback. That’s the nature of the Internet. This would be an equivalent of us trying to contact Sphinn and asking them to remove this post because there are certain comments that we don’t agree with (just hypothetically, of course - as I said before, I welcome all criticism). There was actually a very interesting similar situation that took place with TheFunded.com, a review site for VCs: http://techdirt.com/articles/20071130/120037.shtml@Gab - Nope, I’m not Igor’s brother or even related to him. Although it is quite ironic that we have the same last name, work in the same industry and wound up living a few blocks away from each other by complete coincidence.@smallbiztrends - I completely understand where you’re coming from. I also agree that it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a 3rd party to judge SEM firms that they’ve never actually used. And that’s exactly why we wanted to approach it from a different angle - that is, give their actual clients an ability to express the experience they’ve had with that firm. Regarding the checklist and the baseline - absolutely. It sounds like a good idea and it’s something that we could certainly implement. In fact, there is a plethora of features we could implement to make the site better and that’s why I find these comments to be so helpful. But the important thing is that the underlying concept of UGC reviews can be helpful and deliver value to its readers.I’ll continue to respond to the other comments throughout the day. - Boris

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from iBrian 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 6

Sorry, Boris - I’ve got to be the resident cynica here and say this is just another cash-in review site. As you agreed, there are no standards to hold people to, therefore what criteria have you to offer serious non-biased reviews? None, really.Added to that the competitive SEO companies aren’t giving their confidential client info, and their clients aren’t rushing out to tell the competition what their advantage is.Plus you are more likely to see fake reviews go up just as with so many other UGC review sites. So as you said, you opened a UGC site so you can get other people providing free content and that’s your entire business model.And that offers nobody any value than yourself.2c.

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from streko 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 1

^x2

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from ArnieK 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Still skeptical.  I see the SEO community gaming this one big time.  It will be interesting to see this play out.  Time will tell.

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from Feydakin 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Not having a reponse system in place before going live is a serious deal breaker for me.. Everyone has had the client that blames you for everythig that goes wrong when in reality that client failed to deliver on their side of the business agreement.. Or the client that simply dropped off the face of the earth mid project only to come back later and blame you for everything.. Yet all of the blame gets shifted to the vendor for a lot of reasons.. Without the ability to respond to individual reviews it’s impossible to have a fair and balanced review site.. This doesn’t even take in to consideration whether you should respond to these reviews or not.. It’s rarely a good thing to step up to a negative comment and try to explain your side of the issue since you are almost always going to be painted with a very broad brush for doing so.. But the opportunity to challenge a negative, or thank someone for a positive, review seems like a mandatory ability to have on a site like this..

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from debram 2394 Days ago #
Votes: 1

<font face="Arial" size="2"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">Here’s a really good example of why a review system like the one being discussed in this thread won’t work without both sides of the story being presented. http://sphinn.com/story/37708What if that client reveiwed Ian’s company and left a commnet that simply said - didn’t complete contract or didn’t implement all aspects of contract... Innocent comments when you know the whole story but alone can be detrimental for Ian and his firm. </font></font>

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from JeffCampbell 2394 Days ago #
Votes: -3

Not to hijack the thread about finding reviewing/finding the "best" firm, but a question to the commentors on defining the "Top" SEM/O’s:Is the annual AdAge survey/guide of the top 20 firms not sufficient/wrong/biased in judging who’s on top?  It’s found here, and I thought it to be the industry standard (p46):http://adage.com/images/random/datacenter/2007/searchfactpack2007.pdf FYI, it’s based on 2006 revenue, so granted it’s a bit dated.  Isn’t this the list of the top SEM/O’s?

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from Kalena 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Jeff said "Isn’t this the list of the top SEM/O’s?" - sure it is. If you’re talking to one of the advertisers in that supplement. Oh and a heads up: the SEM industry exists outside the readership circulation of Advertising Age. In fact, rumor (rumour!) has it that SEM even exists outside North America - shock, horror!

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from g1smd 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 1

It sure does.   The UK is full of it.  

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from Gab 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 0

"Especially if they’ve done any research prior to hiring you, they’ve already been exposed to competition."--> But most clients (and ironically, the good ones especially) don’t shop around first.

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from copywriter39 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Even after reading all this I’m still skeptical. After all, when your in a restaurant and have finished the meal you can review the establishment. But with SEO it could take months for results to appear. What if a client becomes anxious and posts a review complaining about a site. Soon after the results could take effect and then what. Can they change their review? And even if you collect information on the reviewer for your own records how do you prove they’ve actually worked with an agency?

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from Jill 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Jill - fair enough. I see the issue that you have with anonymity factor. But just in the hypothetical sense, let’s take that element away and assume that you would know the identity of the person making the review. Would you still be inclined to go after SEMCompare? And if so, on what grounds? Just playing devil’s advocate here :)No, if it were an actual real client of mine that had an actual real gripe, then that’s fair game. My concern is fake reviews. Or even potential clients that never become a client, but who complain because perhaps you didn’t want to take them as a client. Will you be allowing those?

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from borismordkovich 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@iBrian - Just to make my stance clear, I agreed that there are currently no official standards for the industry to follow developed or enforced by a 3rd party. But we are not claiming to create our own standards. We are not doing any editorial reviews or rating the companies ourselves. We provide a public forum to people to express their experiences – not set a benchmark for all companies to follow. People’s experiences and reviews can serve as a valuable resource to others. They just need to be taken for what they are - people’s opinions. I’m not sure what you meant by the comment of: "you opened a UGC site so you can get other people providing free content." Isn’t that what every UGC site is about? Even sites like Sphinn, Digg or many other UGC? You are correct - we wanted community-generated input and that’s why we launched SEMCompare. But I’m not clear how this is an argument against the concept? @Feydakin & @debram  - the ability to respond to reviews will be added in the near future. I wholeheartedly agree that there are a lot of things that we can do in the future and we will. Please do keep in mind that the site is only two weeks old and you need to have real-world feedback in order to steer it in the right direction. Speaking of new features, I also wanted to mention that based on the input of this discussion, we soon plan on implementing some new functionality that should clear up many of the concerns that were brought up. 1) One of the top concerns that many of you have expressed is the issue with reviews being anonymous. After a number of internal discussions, we will soon de-anonymize the reviews and will display the name and the website of each reviewer. This will ONLY apply to future reviews, as we cannot breach our promise of anonymity to people that have already submitted their feedback. This will make the site more transparent, will allow firms to see who exactly submitted the comments, and address them – if needed. 2) We will implement more stringent controls in place to verify the identity of each reviewer. For one, we will not allow any reviews coming from free email addresses, such as @gmail or others. Additionally, each reviewer will be required to verify their email address before their review goes live. This will ensure that the reviews are submitted by legitimate people and will control spam submissions, companies submitting reviews on behalf of their clients, and so on. 3) And as mentioned earlier, we will add the ability for SEM firms to respond to reviews and present their point of view (if they wish to do so). We are still in the process of formulating the best and easiest way to do this, but I wanted to make it clear that this feature will be available.  This is just a small list of things that we plan to do to continue making SEMCompare into a useful and practical resource. We are open to other suggestions and will consider all constructive feedback.  Have a great night, everyone!- Boris

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from Kalena 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Boris said: "...we will soon de-anonymize the reviews and will display the name and the website of each reviewer." That’s a good start. BUT as Mike expressed so eloquently above: "My concern is not that you are purporting your ratings to be a standard for measurement - although I would question whether you can fully promote the site and its utility without inherently suggesting this."You may not want to be viewed as setting a SEM standards benchmark, but IMO that is exactly what you’ll be seen as doing.

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from seosos 2393 Days ago #
Votes: -1

I can understand the ones that don’t like the idea of having their SEM company reviewd by "could-be-biased" or "could-be-evil-competitor" but that’s life. The idea of letting others say their word and more important the option of getting many quotes in one place - is a blessed one. This is no different from any other platform such as forums, blogs and social media sites that allow people to say what they feel or think, including when it comes to criticise others.Ho! And don’t forget you can always get some "definitely-not-biased-or-fictive" reviewers to say something objective on you... :)Good Luck to SEMCompare and all SEM companies out there.May the reviewer be with you all!

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from NickWilsdon 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 5

@Boris For me, your decision to optimize the page for the company name speaks volumes about your motives. Your promotion seems less about building a central portal where people can go and check companies out, but taking prominent positions on the companies name. As a group who understands SEO you can hardly play the innocent card. In much the same way as any SEO were s/he to blog about a company with their name in the title, description and leading H1 (as you have done on SEM Compare). We know what effect that would have, so do you. If you’re still unsure about why this might be a problem, I’d gladly rank a page for your company name or that of Search Marketing Magazine. Maybe then you’ll begin to understand how this might be perceived as threatening to a company’s reputation? Especially when there is no way of responding. I don’t think we need to play coy here though, do we? I’m also glad you’re not allowing the comments to be annonmous, but I suspect this has more to do with the apparent flooding of your site with positive posts (a very sensible move I might add). Personally I don’t see this working for many SEO/SEM companies, as openly displaying your client list has not been sensible for some years now. Negative SEO is all the rage and will only get stronger, why would we want to open ourselves up to that threat? This is a unique industry in that regard - staying under the radar is key to our work.

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from DazzlinDonna 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Ok, so Boris has addressed many of the issues, with the main one being that it will have the ability to be a 2-way conversation.  In my mind, that’s enough to lay some trust into Boris and the gang.  C’mon people, we’ve all been saying for how long now, that "it’s all about the conversation".  We’ve advised companies to allow the conversation to happen.  We’ve told them all that the feedback is good, and that they shouldn’t attempt to completely control the conversation, but that they should contribute to it instead.But now that the conversation turns our way, we all want to run from it and declare foul?  You can’t have it both ways.  Don’t run from the conversation.  Allow it to happen and participate in it.  That "is" what you’ve been telling clients, right?  So suck it up and take your own medicine.  (Oh, can’t wait to get flamed for that one).  ;)

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from Jill 2393 Days ago #
Votes: 0

One of the top concerns that many of you have expressed is the issue with reviews being anonymous. After a number of internal discussions, we will soon de-anonymize the reviews and will display the name and the website of each reviewer.That puts to rest my major concern, thanks, Boris! If you do this, then at least people will be held accountable for what they say, and they will most likely be truthful because of it.

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from demunz 2391 Days ago #
Votes: -1

Wow, throw a couple of words around like "review and rating" and you ruffle some feathers. If you are in the SEM world you know the pro’s and con’s of review sites. Since the first day somebody p;ut up a "comment box" companies have had to defend themselves and their work. There will always be a disgrundled customers, malicious competitors and honest folk. That said, why are we so stressed about another review site. (oh, yeah it talks about us (SEMer’s).Many of you have had to address ORM (online reputation management) for a client, and if you haven’t you will. This problem is brought about by these types of endeavors. Boris did a profound job of defending and explaining his plan and method (more than ROR has done), and I thank him for that. But he didn’t have to go that extra mile. See, that should be the first sign that this could be a valuable site. Most review and rating sites hide behind a corp or ficticious name. Accountability, should be the number 1 concern. These guys (& girls) are willing to step up and pour out their guts for you to feel comfortable with their site. To me all these nay sayers are going to be the hurdle for SEMCompare. Why, worry about what could be? Why keep beating a dead horse? Our SEM communtity can make this be a credible site. The more we approach this with a jaded eye , the more it will be doomed. SEMCompare is trying to help every SEMer out there. They are letting the uneducated business owner feel warm and fuzzy about working with you, or not. Be real about this and give it a chance, cause most of the PPC and SEO options out there don’t work, or provide very little ROI.  This at least gives all of us a chance. "Can’t we All Just Get Along?" I am very up to date on ORM visit www.HigherImagesBlog.com for more info

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from debram 2391 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Donna said:  But now that the conversation turns our way, we all want to run from it and declare foul?  You can’t have it both ways.  Don’t run from the conversation.Not looking to run, just want all sides of the story presented.

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from eWhisper 2391 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Overall, I think it’s a good idea. We’ll see how the execution turns out.Although, it would also be nice to search for company names of the reviewers to easily find any back and forth dialog. While a company does put trust and money in a SEM firm, the firms also put trust and time into that client. It would be nice to see who you might not want to take on as a client.

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from eBrandz 2390 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I guess paranoia is a basic quality of SEO industry ;)I will give Boris and his team benefit of doubt. They will of course be held responsible to higher standards. Reading Boris’s comments, it seems that their team has given this some thought.But as pageoneresults said, its going to be tough. Specially with negative SEO and bad reviews.Best of luck!

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from borismordkovich 2390 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Hi everyone,Just wanted to mention that I’ll keep everybody posted through this thread on the backend developments over the next 2 weeks or so. So, as we add the features that were requested, I’ll write about them here.Alternatively, if anybody wishes to request anything else, please email us. You can just use this form - http://www.semcompare.com/?contact - or email me directly.@pageoneresults - can you please let me know what JS errors you’ve experienced, so we could address them? Also, regarding seeing new companies - I think that it’s actually a good thing. Within the industry community, there are a handful of companies that always get written or talked about. While that’s understandeable, there are 100s, if not 1,000s, of smaller outfits all over the world that are just as good, but not as well-known. Truth to be told, we envisioned SEMCompare to cover SEM companies of all sizes - not just reserve it for those that have the most money or the best PR departments.@eWhisper - thank you very much for your suggestion. We’ll definitely look into it.I’ll keep checking in and responding to new comments. Have a great weekend, everyone!- Boris

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