What Standards?

by Gary on April 4, 2008 · 6 comments

in General,SEO

I really liked the comments in the previous post on SEO Standards because they got me to thinking more about the issue. I see that mostly people DO NOT want standards because…

  • having standards wouldn’t stop black hats anyway
  • of problems with enforcement
  • resistance to being policed

While it is true that it won’t fully stop black hats I believe that it will at least make things more clear so that people (including the clients) will be able to distinguish black hat from white hats.

Regarding the problem with enforcement and resistance to being polices or being under a governing body I think this will be solved by coming up with a consensus of WHAT KIND OF STANDARDS we exactly need. According to Ian McAnerin there are four kinds of standards:

  • Morals: Personal, code of conduct for the self
  • Ethics: Social. Code of conduct related to interaction with others
  • Standards: Documented agreement on specifications, rules and norms
  • Guidelines: Documented agreement on general principles and processes, usually to clarity or provide context for Standards.

According to the classification above Matan Media is right in saying that we already have SEO standards although they are not yet spelled out so that we can refer to these standards as code of ethics. However I do believe that it will be good for the industry to spell things out. It will take the SEO industry to a more professional level and though SEO Ranter may like less quality competition ^_^ it will help give clients a level of protection. There’s no need to worry about those that will suddenly brush up on their techniques because those too lazy to do so still won’t but the point is that clients will at least be able to distinguish those that adhere to standards and don’t.

Greg is very right though that it will take A LOT of work to arrive with an acceptable industry-wide standards. In the meantime I simply subscribe to adhering the the spoken and unspoken code of ethics.

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morgan April 4, 2008 at 6:06 pm

The only problem that I see with standards is coming up with them solidly enough to write them down. Who would be in the governing body to determine what exactly the standards are? What exactly would SEO standards comprise of?

I like the idea of standards; I’m just not sure how feasible it is in the online environment. We’re no longer in the world of easy accountability. Companies can easily say, “Yeah, I follow those standards” while at the same time they have contracted black-hats who don’t follow them, but they’re nigh untraceable because they’re online (different ip, different mac addresses, nothing connecting the companies, etc).

I’d almost prefer it if companies came up with their own standards that they adhere to. This way you know where they stand. Granted, they can just as easily abuse these as mandated standards, but at least you know they’ve put some thought into it.

Also, the people who hire companies need to ask these questions. “Do you have standards?” “What are they?” And, most importantly, if there aren’t any obvious standards for a company, “Why don’t you have posted standards?”

An educated consumer will help alleviate this problem quite a bit. The more educated they are, the better they will become at spotting shady transpirings. 😉

Gary April 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Hi Morgan, I am all for education, but than in itself can be another can of worms. Some of my most testing times with clients has been when they have been half educated, ie they have read an article in a magazine and now believe they are the experts. Everything written in magazines is gospel, right?

morgan April 5, 2008 at 2:55 pm

*laughs* I know exactly what you’re talking about! Some of my biggest struggles have been with people who think they know what they’re doing. One of my favorite sayings is that a little bit of knowledge is a scary thing. When someone gets a little nugget of insight and then broadly applies it to everything is when they start to mess things up. There are subtleties with everything (especially SEO) and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to it. 🙂

fiona April 6, 2008 at 6:36 pm

I agree that sometimes standards are not a good measure, that sometimes we must make modification to tailor fit some requirements compared to having a standard.

Jayson April 7, 2008 at 6:57 pm

Yeah I think that standards will prove valuable to the many business owners that start SEO on their own and end up getting bad advice. It would really help clear things up.

It would be important for Google, Yahoo and MSN to play a part as well so bad recommendations aren’t going around