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Does SEO have an image problem?

Written by David Harry   
Thursday, 24 January 2008 17:39

Jeremy, Danny and the 95% Affair

Ok, I generally stay away from the latest industry dramas from the days of Calacanis and Pasternack through the more recent paid link and Shoemoney affairs. Why? Because they are mostly done to death in search marketing circles and I am generally not moved by such fantastical whimsies. I also find that my small but fanatic readership are either marketers not interested in the drama, or business owners that had no idea such things were going on.

Whaddya gonna do? Shoe me?Let’s make an Exception – The Shoemoney affair…. (the post that started it all)

The Radio Show; the broadcast on Jeremy's site
Danny asked for some insight; on Sphinn

For starters, this is not a debate… it is a conversation from a few industry heavyweights and we get to be the fly on the wall.  Also, as written elsewhere, Danny seems to be taking up much of the conversation which I can understand because I am a yapper myself. Let’s not start thinking about a serious debate or some type of smack down as was played up by the Sheep Herders in the days leading up to this encounter.

 ... now let's get started shall we?

The Skinny

Shoe talks about the reasoning behind his frustration which started things and one can certainly understand his point in that he has run into some providers that may not have been on top of their game. I am the last one to be defending the entire industry as I have gone red talking about Bad SEO here on a few occasions. If there is an SEO that hasn’t seen things from so-called peers that makes them shudder, than you haven’t been looking. Once again, find me an industry without discolorations and I will buy you a few pints my friend.  

This is where some form of standards might be a smart direction for the industry. I also deal in the web development world and the W3C certainly doesn’t hinder our abilities nor force us to operate in a given manner. It does though, give us a credible location to reference for clients as to what are industry standards. I think Danny certainly has a point in this area.  


You Said 95%!!!

This has been covered probably more than it should be. If this was meant as a hard number or not, it should not be the focus of the comments made by Jeremy. It is more of the implication that a large number of SEO providers are under qualified for their positions. Danny also covers the image problems that SEO currently has while Jeremy feels that many SEO firms seem myopic on the task of SEO and don’t have a strong enough grasp on other marketing elements which make them seem like a pack of hungry wolves that can’t see beyond the SERPs.

As Danny had mentioned, a great number of successful SEO folks don’t tend to actively market their services and I do think that the uber-aggessive sales types that Jeremy is running into, well… they are the folks that he might want to avoid. It does raise an interesting question as far as awareness of SEO in the business community is concerned. Can we ever stop those email marketers from sending out CRAP promotions for the dregs of the industry? Nope… nor can any other industry.

Jeremy talks about how a web designer can quantify themselves by showing their work and that not many SEOs do that. To which Danny replied that in many cases the clients do not want ANY disclosure as it lends itself to nearly giving away business intelligence. This one I also agree with as I NEVER list clients or even talk about them with my closest friends. I fiercely defend and protect my client data ( I even use tagged, on-server analytics). I understand Jeremy’s position, but I hope he understands mine on protecting my data. I do though; show potential clients a variety of our own projects as we have more than a few web properties of our own.


Moving Ahead

There really seems to be a consensus developing through this that some type of body such as the W3C in the SEO world may be needed. The obvious problems as were discussed, is that the search engines not only keep the ‘secret sauce’ private but also are constantly changing. Jeremy and Danny both seemed to like the idea of certification, but once more, based on whose style of SEO? We already have some organizations in place but they simply are not ubiquitous in the industry, never mind the greater business spaces. They are not the W3C and so I feel the discussion of whom and how to implement these remains a work in progress.

 Shoe kind made a funny, by suggesting a ‘Union’ type of deal would be an idea.... and all of a sudden Tony Soprano SEO Inc' came to mind…(my mind does wander..). The point being that a larger body than something like SEMPO could currently offer might be in order. I do agree that the over-all desire to have some type of organized body to manage the industry is attractive, but as Danny talked about, if you are simply paying to be a member, what is the point? I know I have never been drawn to join SEMPO (black sheep syndrome) and I don’t feel that they should be the mark that says I am a quality individual in the industry. This area is certainly one I think should be explored deeeper.

aaaww.... does the baby want his PR back?

At the end of the day Jeremy is simply voicing what I have heard from many clients. There is no lack of horror stories out there and that is nothing new around here. He certainly also seems to understand the inherent problems in the industry better by the end of the exchange and the dialogue seems positive. I think from this point there is some interesting issues raised and the SEO community should learn to address its reputation management issues with concern (as Danny has) rather than engaging in the venom that usually accompanies these adventures against those that may bring visibility to our short commings as a whole.

So hey there SEO folks.. Stop running around like a bunch of pissed off adolescents and start to deal with the image problems in a serious, mature and productive manner….. Jeremy was voicing what many people believe, it is up to US to fix the image problems, this isn't about Shoe now is it?..... and that’s my take :0)

I now leave this affair to others to continue the dialogue


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