Hot At Sphinn: SEO/SEM Standards & Certification, Black Hat Vs. White Hat & More

sphinn-logoThe opinions were flying last week on our sister site, Sphinn, mostly in two discussions about a couple hot topics across the SEO/SEM industry: black hat vs. white hat labels and industry standards/certification.

Sphinn member David Zimmerman kicked it off by starting a discussion about getting rid of the terms “black hat” and “white hat” to describe industry tactics. That conversation led into our “Discussion of the Week,” which asked Is It Time for SEM Industry Standards/Certification? That conversation currently has more than two dozen comments and, since it’s such a hot topic, here are two comments — one from each side of the discussion, pro and con.

On the “con” side, here’s part of what Sphinn member Ian Hough (of TheNamelessThing.com) said:

I think SEO is such a grey area, like the Web in general, that knowing where to draw the lines would be a major problem. The Web is like the wild west, and I think I like it that way. In time it will become more organised and civilised, but it has to be allowed to develop naturally.

On the “pro” side, here’s some of what Sphinn member Michael Martinez (of SEO Theory) had to say:

There is no reason to fear standards. They take nothing away from anyone practicing SEO — but they do give us all something we need: credibility. As an industry, search engine optimization — search engine marketing — has little to no credibility. Standards would vastly improve that situation.

Feel free to add your two cents to that debate now, or read along for more of the most popular stories last week on Sphinn.

Most Comments

  • Discussion: Is It Time for SEM Industry Standards/Certification? – As an offshoot to the ongoing discussion about the terms "black hat" and "white hat" tactics, some people have brought up the topic of industry standards and certification. In our "Discussion of the Week," let's hear your thoughts more specifically on that aspect of the debate. Search engine marketing has been around for more than 15 years now. Is it time for a set of industry standards and/or certification the way many other industries do? The floor is open.
  • Discussion: White Hat? Black Hat? Who cares! – I am tired of the labels- black hat and white hat. Sure there are good and bad ways to do SEO but these labels have been rendered useless as pejoratives. Rather than speak in terms of the color of an SEO's headgear, we should instead talk about "risk" – how much risk they are willing to take. But it's not really about how risky an SEO is- what is more important is the riskiness of their specific techniques. What do you think? will you join me in dropping the headgear pejoratives and start describing specific techniques as risky or not?
  • Whitehat SEO Is a Joke – Are whitehat SEO's nothing more than snake-oil salesmen?  Is practicing whitehat SEO little more than wishful thinking?  Kris Roadruck from Click2Rank thinks so and outlines why practicing whitehat tactics hardly ever gets anyone to the front page of the SERPS.

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Hot On Sphinn: April 4 to April 10, 2011

This is the latest in a weekly look at the stories that were “hot” on Sphinn in the past week. We’ll post these recaps every week.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Features: General | Sphinn

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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