The SEO Standards Debate

by Gary on March 31, 2008 · 7 comments

in General,SEO

Last month’s SMX West Search Insights track topic “Is it time for Search Marketing Standards?” sparked a debate not just on SEM standards but also SEO standards. On one side we have Jill Whalen of Search Engine Land telling us that we DO NOT need SEO standards. On the other hand we have Lisa Barone of Bruce Barclay asserting that we DO need SEO standards after all.

Jill’s points:

  • There are too many ways of skinning the SEO cat.
  • We can’t even agree on the definition of search engine optimization.
  • There are already laws to protect people from SEO scam.
  • There’s no such thing as “cheating” in SEO.

Lisa’s points:

  • We need basic guidelines for the search engine optimization process and to document what it is we actually do.
  • It’s something we need for training, for protection and for credibility.
  • We need to educate people [SEO clients] so that they are aware of when they’re being scammed.
  • For search engine optimization to become a legitimate industry, we need to start treating ourselves as one.
  • For us to grow, we have to adopt the official standards that are going to give us the credibility and protection that this industry needs.

While I do agree will Jill that people wouldn’t be using shady SEO techniques if it didn’t work (though watching America’s Dumbest Criminals last night made me wonder if this is really true) and that search engines have a responsibility to enforce their own guidelines, I am more inclined to agree with Lisa that the growth of the SEO industry calls for us to have some sort of official standards. I too would rather have us make our own standards than have some other governing body (that know nothing about SEO) someday decide that the SEO industry does need some standards and then make the rules up themselves.

Where do you stand?

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