SEO is a four-letter word to some people that stands for snake-oil salesmen and blog spammers. Yet SEOs are also highly in demand and plenty help website generate traffic that converts. This session looks at SEO's reputation problem and explores possible solutions. Moderator:
* Jeffrey K. Rohrs, VP, Agency & Search Marketing, ExactTarget
* Shari Thurow, Founder & SEO, Omni Marketing Interactive * Kristopher B. Jones, President & CEO, Pepperjam * Jennifer Laycock, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Guide * Jonathan Hochman, Founder/President, Hochman Consultants * Kathleen Fealy, Education Chairman, SEMPO
Jeff Rohrs introduces the session. Everyone then introduces themselves. Kris Jones says that he's
Jason Calacanis Dave Pasternack himself.
Shari talks about reputation management. A few years ago, she was a MSN search champ and someone was convinced that she was a spammer. This woman wouldn't let her post on her blog to rebut. So how do you handle a situation where people won't let you rebut on their blog? She used other avenues, like blogs, to communicate this.
How do you tell the academic community that you don't have the plague? There's a huge need of education. We have to teach people how to search and discern the good from the bad.
Kris says that the crux of this discussion lies in question and answers but he wants to emphasize that this is an incredibly important issue. The portion of people's profession seems to define the rest. Those fundamental attribution errors and illogical conclusions that are made put business professionals in a difficult position. That's quite unfortunate. One of the foundations of online marketing is your placement organically in the search results. He recommends that you be careful of the small percetage of SEOs who will attempt to sell you guarantees. That's his biggest pet peeve. Stay away from them. He does a search for "guaranteed search engine placement." There are a lot of results. A lot of companies have failed at successfully finding themselves in these organic listings and have desperately tried to get in the results. But the important thing is to convey the proper expectations. Otherwise, the client will have unreasonable expectations. Many of these "guarantee" websites do try to cater to these people but these people are not doing due diligence.
You can't take shortcuts. The approach is long term. You need to follow the policies and work to integrate SEO to your paid search and your other strategies.
Jonathan Hochman is next. He shows that there are reputation issues at stake for sure. Some people sell Wikipedia page placement on eBay (as he illustrates). This is fraud. It kills the reputation. Another one is from a prominent SEO blogger who wrote that. Another link is on Wikipedia itself which links to a web design firm. People are spamming Wikipedia and it causes frustration.
Some people, therefore, think that SEO is spammy. That's because they've been burned. Wikipedia responded with nofollow. nofollow was implemented because of an SEO contest, which isn't very known. A lot of people were upset about this. Andy Beal was very sad about it. He blogged about it and Jonathan showed a screenshot. But Jonathan says that Wikipedia is not vindictive; they had a reason for it. A long time ago, back in the 80s, there was a thing called netiquette - net etiquette: you need to remember that the internet is a shared resources. Even nonprofits need to do policing. Let's tell the public what the slimy process are and how to avoid them.
SEMPO people should email eBay and tell them that it's fraud. You should get involved with these communities to fix the reputation problem and become more profitable as well as remove the perception.
Kathy Fealy is up next. A lot of businesses are asking for SEO services for under $5k. Here are some comments: - I've been taking before. I don't want to be taken again. - Why should I bother with SEO because the results can change? - I thought my web designer did this for us? - Our IT dept thinks it's unnecessary. - Click fraud. - I thought PPC is better because you can see ROI.
How do you know if you're hiring someone who is qualified? - People don't know if the people they hire are up to date. - They may not get what they're promised. - They aren't "certified." We have to work with people and find out what they need and what their objectives are. Are they planning on bringing more products, increase conversions, or reputation? But they get conflicting ideas in their proposals. Everyone has different prices. There's a lot of jargon.
Some people are victims of scams. "If it's too good to be true, it probably is." "There is no such thing as a free lunch."
A little knowledge can be dangerous - - Web designers don't know how to design. - Traditional PR firms put up graphics instead of text. - Marketing professionals think it's an extension of current work. - Many clients use small business templates that build sites for them. Then when a real professional says that they have to redo their website, the person goes back to the business template provider who say that the SEO is wrong and that they can fix it.
The perceptions is the reality.
Every true SEO professional needs to become evangelists. An SEO needs to explain what needs to be done and why. - Write articles, speak to organizations, join professional organizations (SEMPO), continue learning (SEMPO institute, conferences, major Search Engine publications, books, podcasts), and advise clients of the risks of search engine strategies - ethics.
Last but not least is Jennifer Laycock. She is talking about social media. People can connect with people who share their passions from all over the world.
Some people think that social media marketing is a one-stop shop. You need to engage your customer and join the community. However, not all people like this and assume it's a marketing stunt especially if they have proof that you're a marketer (which occurred in Jennifer's case). It didn't matter what the truth was, the perception was reality and everyone believed it. From a regular business, you have issues with reputation management.
You don't have to have a hard sales pitch. We need to think about making this as a tool to build the reputation of yourself to your customers.