Of course, since we have no way of knowing where we would be if we had them, there is no way to know that, is there?
Perhaps the lack of standards put us ahead. Perhaps it had no effect. Perhaps it held us back. With no way to know, and with no ability to compare scenarios, we are working with a lack of information. You can't make a positive conclusion based on a lack of information.
What information we DO have is that almost every day someone is out there calling SEO's a bunch of scam artists.Example:
Thousands of "Search Engine Optimization" consultants and companies have sprouted up in the past few years. I have never wondered at whether SEO is an effective thing to do ó clearly, it is a waste of time. But furthermore, most of the practices in which SEOs engage are at best shady and at worse, downright unethical. One way or another, the practices of SEOs are likely not practices in which a legitimate business with a sound marketing model need to engage.Source: http://www.thebluesm...om/seo.scam.php
You can find lots more (I just grabbed this one at random). Just do a few searches for "seo scam", "seo ripoff" and so forth in your favorite search engine.
At the very least, I'd call that a reputation issue stemming from a lack of understanding as to what SEO is all about. Reading this article is scary. He's not even sure what SEO's mean by "keyword". And this is apparently an experienced webmaster. Perhaps a standard definition of what a keyword is might help?
I think sometimes we get so used to knowing how things work that we forget that the general public has virtually no clue. One of the reasons I still contribute to forums and give (free) SEO seminars to local businesses is because it helps keep me grounded. I routinely have to explain concepts like anchor text to otherwise very knowedgable people.
Part of setting up standards is that they give a basis for uniform and consistent training and reference points. That's a good thing, IMO.
One last thing. Go actually ask a few members of the general public what they think of a profession that doesn't have standards for definitions, terms and processes. Then actually listen to them. Don't just assume you know. Repeat as necessary. I suspect you'll have a very different opinion about things when you are done, and whether we are doing ourselves any favors by not having standards.