Search Standards, Part 2

...Continued from Part 1

3. There are already laws to protect people from SEO scams. Sure, you could argue that the law covers all that. Heck, you could (and some people do) argue that we could get rid of all laws but the 10 Commandments. Just interpret everything, and let all your customer relations and the organization of your profession be interpreted by courts and bureaucrats every single time someone enters into an agreement or wants to do something.

You'd think that of all people lawyers would say that they don't need standards, and that the existing laws would cover all the possible issues in the profession. Just trust the court system. But they don't. Maybe lawyers know something about laws that you don't?

Like, "who's laws?" US law? UK law? Chinese Law? California Law? Nevada Law? Personally, I think everyone should follow Alberta law. ;)

Arguing that the "law" will protect people is making the ethnocentric assumption that the laws where you live are the "right" ones. And that they are flawless. And will be able to deal with all of the issues specific to your profession. And that everyone worldwide will agree to them. Those are some pretty big assumptions.

Did you know that both Chinese and French law make it illegal to compare products? They believe that if your product can't stand on it's own merits, it's got no right to start trying to make it's competitors look bad to try to make itself look good. So much for bidding on competitors names. Legal in the US, illegal in France. Yes, Google lost that one.

German contracts tend to be quite short. Why? Because there are laws about what all contracts in Germany have in them, so most of the "boilerplate" in US contracts (ie Acts of God, etc) are unnecessary. The law also overrides the contracts, should the contract say something different. It's kind of funny to listen to US contract lawyers in Germany whine and complain. You should probably know that if you ever sign a contract with a German company. Whose law wins?

At least if you have standards, the local courts of a particular jurisdiction will be able to look at those standards and take guidance from them. Ever hear of "generally accepted accounting principles"? That's a legal term. Courts use it. But the principles are set by the accounting profession, not the courts. Why? Because judges are not accountants. They are not SEO's, either.

"Generally accepted SEO standards" may one day save your bacon. Unless we don't have any. In which case the court will probably side with the client, since the professional is supposed to know better and is held to a higher standard. Golly, that's too bad for SEO's.

4. There's no such thing as "cheating" in SEO. I'm assuming that this is referring to cheating search engines, as opposed to cheating customers and clients. Because that happens a lot more than it should.

Once again, standards are not about SEO's and search engines. I don't care about search engine guidelines (you need a standard to have a guideline, anyway). No, standards are about the public. And the public doesn't like to be cheated, mislead, kept in the dark or lied to. Eventually, if the SEO community doesn't enact it's own standards to protect the public, I have no question that the public will demand that the standards are created (via either the courts or legislation) and foisted upon us.

And we'd have no one to blame but ourselves.

Conclusion

Standards? We don't need no stinkin' standards. But the public does. The SEO community needs to deal with the fact that they and the search engines are not the only ones involved in this issue. That's part of the process of becoming mature: becoming aware of the needs of others. Joining the larger community. Practicing responsible behavior. Caring.

I think it's time we grew up and took responsibility for our own profession, before someone does it for us.

Ian

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Totally agree, I was shocked and surprised at the assertion that we don't need standards for SEO.

Of course we do and as you rightly point out our clients do.

It's my view that the best way to clean up this industry is by removing the smoke and mirrors and being open and transparent with clients.

Agencies and individual SEO's signing up to industry standards would perhaps give clients comfort, and indeed some recourse should things go wrong.