Ever since the SEO industry grew beyond the in-house and homegrown webmasters and into a client consulting service there have been misconceptions about what SEO is, what SEOs do and the “type” of people that are SEOs.
The term “snakeoil salesman”, and “woman”, has plagued the SEO industry for years. The bad reputation that the SEO industry harbors is passed by word-of-mouth or by scathing news/blog posts about a business owner being swindled of their cash by the “scammers, spammers & hacks” that make up the SEO industry. We cannot deny the fact that these people do exist within the SEO industry or, to that point, within any and every industry on the planet. If there weren’t, lawyers would be broke.
Don’t be hatin’ the SEOs!
In recent weeks two posts discussing the reputation of the industry were published. Paul Carpenter posted, on DavidNaylor.co.uk, about “Why SEOs are hated” and Kelvin Newman, on StateofSearch.com, shared his experience with a shady salesman in his post “SEO’s are going to end up more hated than traffic wardens and estate agents”. These type of posts make their rounds on a monthly basis and they showcase that there is clearly a reputation problem in the SEO industry.
Like Paul’s and Kelvin’s posts, the end result of the topic tends to lead back to a handful of solutions or tips, including:
- Listing reputable SEOs
- A call for search engine involvement/cooperation
- Some form of certification or license program
- A list of “what to look out for” to identify potentially bad SEOs (Ross and John of SEO 101 on Webmaster Radio put together a good list during the first half of their show on August 9th called “SEO reputation and integrity”.
Each of the items above have their own merits and pitfalls but all contribute to the discussion that something must be done. That “something” should be the formation of a consumer advocacy group specifically targeting the SEO industry.
At the moment we have a fragmented consumer advocacy group overlooking the SEO industry. It is composed of bloggers (on a global scale) that post adhoc about comment & contact form spammers, shady phone calls, certification schemers and deceptive SEO businesses. Separately, these posts rise and fall with the waves they create and always after short periods of time fizzle out.
Creating an advocacy group
What the SEO industry needs is a stable advocacy group where the submission of complaints can be review and recorded over time in an effort to detail the movements of those that attempt to taint our legitimate field. This group, if formed properly, would be the go-to organization where our consumers, i.e. business owners, etc., can go to research a business for complaints, research a pitch email/phone call they received and, of course, submit complaints.
The creation of such a group is something that could not happen overnight and would need to be a labor of love backed by the SEO community. The support of legitimate SEOs would help to build the authority the organization would need to establish a pillar of trust with consumers but also aid in the identification and research of the untrustworthy practitioners in the SEO industry.
There are some ideas that have been floated around about how an organization of this nature would function, be structured and develop. But, the creation of a consumer advocacy group for the SEO industry is something that needs the input from the community to be successful. So, if this organization was to be created, would you support it’s existence? What would you expected of it? How would you like to see it structured? Would you participate?
Ultimately, do you think it would help the reputation of the SEO industry?