Is an SEM Ranking System a Bad Idea?

Apr 1, 2008 • 9:09 am | comments (3) by twitter | Filed Under Other Search Topics
 

Kalena Jordan writes a blog about her concern over an SEM rating site called SEMCompare. She tells us that the Search Marketing Standard magazine has started this site to allow people to write reviews about the search marketing agencies they've worked on, whether it's positive or negative.

After doing an interview with one of the people behind the site, she was alarmed by a comment from said individual: "At the end of the day we can’t really endorse or condone reviews on the site.” Does it make sense to create a site if you can't vouch for its content?

The discussion moves over to Sphinn where sentiment is similar. Here are some reactions:

U gotta be kidding me right? So I can hire a gang of offshore monkeys to go by (spoofed IPs) and whack attack all the competition? I Love It.....

And another:

One of my concerns, which you didn't mention, was whether SEM/SEO firms would be able to buy their way to the top or to good reviews? To me, the site looks like one of those kind.

Finally, another valid point:

Another concern that I have that I don't think has been discussed is the conflict of interest in asking a client to review your agency and knowing that SEMCompare exists.

A positive review is great, but exposure to your compeitiion is not so.

Boris Mordkovich of SEMCompare responds to these concerns and says that the concept arose from several inquiries about SEM agency recommendations. They created a site driven by user generated content to do this. There are some safeguards they've put in place, including contacting people whose reviews don't match up. This should prevent the system from being abused. Users need to have a valid email and website and if their reviews are specious, the SEMCompare staff will ask the user directly.

Does it have promise? Perhaps. I still think that the service can be easily gamed. Also, it's interesting that a lot of marketing companies I haven't heard of have a solid 5.0 score whereas the more known companies have lower scores (between 1.7 and 4.9). Something about that just doesn't feel right.

The ongoing discussion (oh yes, there's a lot more) continues on Sphinn.

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Comments:

David Wallace

04/01/2008 04:06 pm

One thing that concerns me is the fact that reviewers can be anonymous. You see names like "Happy Customer" and the like that do not identify the reviewer. I think that if a site like this is going to succeed, there needs to be a face and a name behind the reviewer. Otherwise, how can you validate if the review is authentic or not?

Boris Mordkovich

04/01/2008 04:20 pm

David, Thank you very much for your concern. Based on the feedback that we collected, we will be moving away from the anonymous platform and will display the name and the company name of the reviewers. This functionality will be added within a span of about a week or so and will apply to all future reviews. Boris

John Kaduwanema

04/02/2008 08:08 am

I absolutely agree with David on the role of anonymous posters. They could be your competitors or even worse representatives of your competitors. I don't think it is really possible to trace back everyone who reviews a page and ascertain whether they have vested interest. Recently as I was promoting <em><strong><a href="http://www.firstaidwarehouse.co.uk/xpl-blood_pressure_monitors.html" title="First Aid Warehouse, supplier of blood pressure monitors, first aid kits and medical equipment.Full range of BHS validated monitors from A&D, Microlife and Omron. For home use through to sphygmomanometers for use in hospitals and GP surgeries." rel="nofollow">blood pressure monitors </a></strong></em>, I noticed that even authority sites limit access to reviews and refuse to endorse anonymous recommendations.

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