“SEO” stands for “search engine optimizers,” an oft-maligned class of businesses who specialize in helping companies rank better in organic – aka “pure” – listings. In other words, these are the folks who will help your site get in the first page of results in Google, as Google is (for now) the only game in town when it comes to pure results. And as we all know, getting on the first page of Google results can mean a massive amount of traffic and business to your site. Plus, you can avoid having to spring for paid listings.
Now, SEOs have a long and rather mottled history, and it’s not my goal in this post to revisit it. Suffice to say that many SEOs use tactics which fail the integrity sniff test, and most observers of this space would agree that the overzealous use of search-engine optimization has created a massive spam problem for Google – crap results which clog up otherwise relevant SERPs (search engine results pages). In fact, it’s not at all uncommon to call the dance between SEOs and Google’s programmers an “arms race” – wherein Google will shift its algorithms to thwart obvious SEO deviousness, and the SEO community will respond with new and ever more crafty techniques to foil Google’s algorithms.
But many SEOs perform a honest and valuable service – they play by the rules, and they help sites organize themselves so they rank just about where they reasonably ought to. Optimizing for Google is not a new idea – nearly every good site does it, from CNet to Amazon. The SEO industry recently took a major step toward becoming an industry with standards and practices when it self-organized SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (though I can’t yet find the equivalent of SEMPO Member Guidelines, which I imagine is still a pretty hot potato within that nascent community).
All of this came to mind when I saw this link via Google Blogoscoped: The Google SERPs SEO Competition. Far as I can tell this is an open call for entries for SEOs to prove they can push a particular page (in this case, the #1 SERP for the term “SERPs”) to the top of the heap in Google. No rules, winner takes all (which I think in this case means basically bragging rights). I’m pretty sure this contest will be less than warmly received over at Google, but I wonder what SEMPO thinks? I’ll send a note and be back when I have an answer….