Could a 25-year old SEO expert by the name of Rhea Drysdale have started a revolution in our industry? Her successful fight to save the SEO trademark has renewed interest in others who stand accused of profiteering from the industry.
First of these was VerifiedSEO, who attempted to establish a system to verify SEO providers for a $99 fee. With a record 130 comments on Sphinn, the outrage from the community surprised many. It was hard not to draw the conclusion that Rhea’s activism had shamed many into action that day.
The campaign, led by Edward Lewis was successful, with the VerifiedSEO project closing it’s doors in the evening. The owner was shocked by the responses but admitted it had been a learning process.
Next against the wall has been TOPSEOs.com, who claim to be “The Independent Authority on Search Vendors”. I won’t go over the numerous complaints in this post but feel free to follow these links to understand the back story.
Particularly worrying was the insight given by Arnie Kuenn, President of Vertical Measures in this post on TopSEOs by Alan Bleiweiss and Mark Jackson at VIZION Interactive. Both previous customers of TopSEOs.
It’s easy to understand why these schemes upset so many in the online marketing industry. Especially when these operators have little or no interaction with the community they claim to police.
Any long-term marketer knows that standards are a common discussion topic in this industry. We circle through the same arguments every couple of years. It would be great if this current wave of activism could be directed into moving this debate forward.
However much the community dislikes TopSEOs and other companies profiteering from the lack of standards, they are fueled by the poor, ineffective or downright shady online marketing companies out there. For years these companies, big or small, have been a blight on the industry and hammered the reputation of professional SEO/SEMs.
If 2010 is the year to clean up the industry, we can’t ignore this elephant in the room.
There is a demand from clients for honest reviews of potential SEO/SEM suppliers. If the allegations of “Pay to Play” are true then TopSEOs has now become part of the problem not the solution. It’s unlikely they will be the last to respond to this need, as Edward Lewis has pointed out, the business model seems too profitable.
For the next group to try, take note. Standards can only be introduced by a group respected within the community. Their motivation, practices and business model must be completely transparent. Anything less will quickly place the proponents up against the wall – to face the wrath of the SEO revolutionaries.
** Afterwards Tom and Eric weren’t exactly sure at which point during their discussion the elephant had entered the room by David Blackwell, one of the artists who release their work under a Creative Commons license at Flickr – thank you!