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Search Engine Marketing Standards
Posted 01 April 2008 - 07:50 AM
Posted 01 April 2008 - 08:03 AM
If you are not a member of an organisation, then its rules, regulations and standards do not apply to you. What the AMA says (for example) does not apply to you unless you are a member of the AMA. However, the law does apply to you.
Posted 01 April 2008 - 11:54 AM
The marketing standards can and should apply to SEM, though most people in the industry don't seem to be aware that search marketing is...uhhh.... marketing. (?!)
Since SEO is a subcategory of SEM, so is SEO. One could argue that we have standards available already, but no one seems to know about them. Hopefully that would change if SEMPO stood up. Heck, all they'd have to do is ratify the AMA standards to start the process.
Posted 01 April 2008 - 02:52 PM
It's an interesting question whether cloaked content or trusted feed content is marketing, but I would say that both are.
Posted 01 April 2008 - 05:37 PM
This would necessarily also include things like spam, Nigerian 401 scams, most spyware, etc. Marketing is neither good nor bad - it's just marketing. That's one reason ethics and standards keep coming up - as a way to differentiate and guide.
There are more than a few people who feel that all SEO is spam by definition, as an example. To me, that is what happens when we don't bother, as an industry, to differentiate one tactic from another, or to set boundries.
The public sure isn't educated well enough to do it. They see SEO's doing things that make their life hard (like creating SERPS full of MFA pages), and assume that SEO is making the web worse, especially since they can't usually see the obvious effects of "good" SEO.
They go with what they observe. I'm not sure I blame them.
Posted 01 April 2008 - 06:18 PM
It's also what happens when people have an axe to grind or are just plain lazy, and choose to tar an entire industry with the same brush. Their problem/loss, IMO.
I'm quite happy to service clients who have at least done a bit of research, know that there are good and bad ways to do SEO and that I do it the good way.
Hmm, but how exactly would published, agreed upon ethics and standards fix that? The way I approach SEO, most people would not look at a page I'd touched and say it had been SEO'd. It just looks like an integral part of the site. So if the only SEO that people can recognise is Bad SEO, and people go with what they observe, and you can't blame them, then we are on a loser from the outset...
Posted 01 April 2008 - 08:49 PM
I know that *I* appreciate good SEO, but in spite of that, rather than going around the web thinking of positive feedback for SEO's of sites, I'm more likely to recognise that certain sites need SEO. I imagine most SEO's do the same. It's a lot easier to find fault than give praise for most people, as unpleasant as it may be to acknowledge.
Since people tend to notice what's wrong faster than what's right, I suspect it would be less of a "WOW, the SEO for that site must be great" than "geez, this other site needs an SEO". In short, less of recognising good SEO and more of recognising poorly SEO'd sites, which is much easier, even for amateurs.
It would still be an improvement over "all SEO is spam". There are very few scenarios where people remaining ignorant or uninformed is a good thing, IMO. I certainly would not avoid teaching people about SEO just because I can't blame them for thinking SEO is bad because they haven't been taught differently.
If they have the wrong idea because of a lack of education (which influences what they look for and observe), you don't give up and declare a loss, you educate them to observe more clearly.
Posted 02 April 2008 - 04:02 AM
People do learn. But that only happens:
- when you force them to learn or
- when they want to learn or
- from experience
None of those three would serve to educate or re-educate the people who feel that all SEO is spam by definition, except perhaps forcing them to learn by doing good work for their competitors, making them want to learn what you did that was different to their perceptions.
Posted 02 April 2008 - 04:59 AM
If an SEO is working outside the published guidelines, then you as a buyer have legal recourse via the courts, not via some governng body who apply 'opinion' but the courts.
MOST people employ SEO's from the other side of the planet, (mostly in Asia) then complain that there is nothing they can do when it all goes wrong. But the thing is, if they chose to deal with a company half way across the world without knowing the rules of the game, then they do not need protecting they need a check up from the neck up
We have laws that protect us from snake oil salesmen, we need to apply them more.
As for industry regulation, ask 100 SEO's an opinion on a site, and you will never get two identical responses, so who is going to decide where to draw the lines?
Posted 03 April 2008 - 02:20 AM
Isn't that issue proficiency, not standards?
Millions of people have a degree, but they are not all equally well informed. They are still all proficient by some third party measure.
But even the best have to live up to standards. Standards would not be about how well you can do SEO, but rather who you consider when you do. Unless I have it all wrong!
Posted 03 April 2008 - 08:30 AM
They describe the minimum requirements for safety.
When you have something as abstract as online marketing where even defining "what is online marketing" is debatable, I'm not sure how you would go about setting "standards."
I can see setting standards for email marketing that include double opt-in and timing expectations and unsubscribe functions.
I can see setting standards for search marketing that include not hiding elements from visitors.
I can see setting standards for site marketing that include not downloading anything to the visitor's computer without express permission.
But these are minimums, and don't guarantee that the provider of the services has a clue- simply that they won't damage your site or reputation. Anything beyond that is totally subjective.
Posted 03 April 2008 - 11:58 PM
That's pretty much what I've been pushing for all along, but said much better
Of course you can have personal or company standards that are much higher than these, as well, but even then, they are typically the minimum acceptable to you or the company, not the maximum acceptable or even the expected norm.
Most of the time, standards affect the bottom half of the scale of skill. The middle tend to give people what they expect (rather than the minimum they would accept) and the top half tend to set their own (higher) standards and try to exceed the expectations of their clients.
The top performers don't need standards, any more that truly good people need laws or police. If the best you can say for what you accomplished today was that you didn't break any laws, you are not exactly shooting for the stars, but at least no one is getting seriously hurt. It concerns me that we would even need laws and police (or need to lock your doors, avoid certain bars or learn about how to avoid scams), but that doesn't mean that we don't.
No, the reason standards exist is mostly to stop the bottom half of the scale from doing too much damage (and to help educate the public and students as to what *is* considered minimum standards).
Frankly, if we had standards, I would hope and expect that everyone here exceeded them in every way, and could pretty much ignore them as a result. For example, I don't spend a lot of time worrying about the specifics of whether something is technically fraud or not - I don't even go into the range of activities where it would be necessary for me to think about it. Most people are like that.
But there is a group of people out there that just don't seem to get it. Some of them are clinical sociopaths and psychopaths and actually need that guidance due to a lack of a working internal moral compass. Approximately 3-5% of the population are sociopaths or psychopaths. This forum alone has 16,000 members. Let's assume that only about 6000 are active. That's still around 240 SEO sociopaths or psychopaths. On this forum alone. Think about that. And this isn't even counting the people who are just "in it for a buck" or who think everything online is a big video game with no consequences to real people or whatever. These are just the ones that were born (or created during childhood) that way and can't really help it.
Edited by mcanerin, 04 April 2008 - 12:24 AM.
Posted 04 April 2008 - 03:54 AM
Groups have standards. Members join groups and (purport or strive to) abide by the standards. So the standards we have discussed here would apply to some group. Is it a group that already exists or a group that is still to be formed? What's wrong with joining the AMA (or your local equivalent) if you simply want a minimum, well thought out, objective set of standards?
Posted 04 April 2008 - 07:31 AM
However, I do believe there is a use for industry specific standards - or at least guidelines.
The purpose for guidelines is to help interpret standards - you can't have a guideline without a standard to interpret. Don't get me started on Googles "guidelines" in this context...
So if we accepted the AMA (or equivalent) standards, I would also like to see some search industry specific guidelines that would help SEM's and the public interpret those standards within the context of SEM.
Posted 04 April 2008 - 11:53 AM
Then anyone who wants to be a member of SEMPO would need to be sure to adhere to those standards. And those that aren't members or who don't want to obey the standards don't have to.
I see nothing wrong with that.
It's really more the idea that the industry as a whole somehow has standards which doesn't make sense to me. The other standards mentioned previously having to do with marketing were specific organizations' standards, and that makes perfect sense.
Just like this forum has it's own standards of acceptable behavior, it may or may not be the same as other forums, but we don't try to push them on the others as they're simply for our members.
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