SEMPO actually does something...


SEMPO have released a survey aimed at European search marketers

Information from Elemental Comms

17 January 2007, London, UK ---- The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) ( announced today that it has launched its first survey designed to estimate the size of European corporate spending on search engine marketing activities and to document key SEM trends in Europe. SEMPO, a global non-profit professional association, represents the common interests of 500 search engine vendors and professionals from over 20 countries worldwide.

SEMPO welcomes and encourages participation in the survey by all qualified parties, including search engine marketing agencies, corporate webmasters, in-house marketing professionals and affiliate program marketers. The survey is available for European search marketing professionals in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Survey (in English) is at


?? - I think they do stuff...but I'm biased...

Not sure what you mean by your title Jason...

As disclosure, I'm a committee co-chair with them.

I'll happily change the

I'll happily change the title SportsGuy if you can show me a list of worthwhile work (In my opinion not yours) that SEMPO have undertaken for the benefit of the organic and paid search industries.

change it anyways

so it makes sense? do? does?

Organisations are often considered to be "plural"...

I guess it's a personal preference thing.

Yeah change to 'does' -

Yeah change to 'does' - otherwise leave it as is.

It is completely in the spirit of 'classic' Threadwatch - opinionated and amusing.

SEMPO did achieve one thing of importance, it proved the truth of the 'you can't herd cats' comment made on WMW all those years ago.

Actually, to be honest, I

Actually, to be honest, I have not been tracking SEMPO activity much recently - just reading the normal industry online and off-line publications.

Can't say I have noticed much, but, I guess, in fairness, I may have missed some of their efforts to help develop the industry.

SportsGuy, I too would be interested in a quick overview of how the SEMPO members money has been spent on enhancing the status of the industry.

The Voice Of The Industry

At least, that's what they proposed to become, way back when they got slammed in WMW's supporters forum. Every now and then the voice squeaks and we hear they're voting for officers again.

>>represents the common interests of 500 search engine vendors and professionals from over 20 countries worldwide.

I think 450 of them bought a link.

Who's SEMPO ?

:) ... :)

I am kidding.. sort of..


Are they known as SEMPOltons?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Long - you'd better grab a tea, first... ;)

I'm not hoping for a big debate on things here gang because I am by no means "Officially" speaking on behalf of SEMPO in this thread, but here goes - and I'm only speaking about my own committee's actions & opinions here, so bear with me:

1 - The In-House committee has a doc available to members outlining the basic skill sets typically found in those who do well in SEM work - paid and organic. It's not a definitive list, but many members hiring these days have used the list as a starting point when trying to nail down the type of person they want to hire for a given position - the bottom line still remains, even with this list, that you should hire folks who are good fit with the organization, etc. This is basic stuff that those on the committee who've been through the process have brought forward after their experiences - stuff they wish they'd thought of before hand, or things they did think of and proved useful.

2 - Our group has help 2 (soon to be 3) in-person networking sessions to allow in-house SEMs attending the event (held at SES San Jose & Chicago) a chance to meet face to face, swap business cards and built a support network of peers to communicate with.

3 - Outside our small In-House Committee, there now are working groups in Italy, one in the UK (IIRC), one in Canada and others being worked on - basically, it takes time to get folks active - once the group is started, it takes time to spread the word and members still need to make time available to be involved.

4 - SEMPO Institute - does anyone have any idea how much time it took how many people to develop all the content, check it, double check it, agree with it and build it? The fact that the Institute is open and offering the detailed info it is is a testament to SEMPO and it's members - that's a lot of time invested to help the organization, those who choose to enroll in the training, and by extension, the industry itself. Very few actual training options exist right now, and though this next comment will seem self serving, this one is real, detailed, relevant, current and accessible. Bottom line, they're trying where so many others are just bitching...

On top of all this internal growing stuff, it just takes time - I work In-House for a living, so it's not like I have 10s of hours a month to devote to things, so getting projects completed and out for general consumption takes time yet again.

It's not like the BoD sits around and thinks, "Hey, let's send a press release to remind folks we're here" every few months - with so many people doing things globally, it all adds up to time, time, time. (I am not a Board member.)

Google wasn't Google in 2 or 3 years were they?

Sadly, to those outside the group working on all these different projects, I'm sure it can seem like SEMPO produces little, but honestly, that's a pretty easy statement to make from the armchair - not saying you are, but, well, you kind of are, IMO... (for all I know Jason, you're a member and on another committee...)

I'm actively involved, so I see much of it. If you're not actively involved, how much can you know about the work actually being done? (General "you", not personal "you" here)

I'm proud to be involved with SEMPO and pleased with the efforts they're putting forth. They are, by and large, good people. So go ahead, fire away at me - not reaching for the flame-proof suit this time... ;)

10 foot pole

Sportsguy.. please understand this isn't aimed at you... but I wouldn't touch SEMPO with a 10 foot pole for my company.

Aaron published an article back in 2004 that I think is still vaild today for the most part:

Aaron's point was pretty clear... though the results changed between 2004 and now.. SEMPO's problem hasn't.

The problem is literally that they have not done anything at all to promote the industry.. in fact the argument could be made that they have done more harm than good by taking perfectly good money.. and not using it to promote the cause.. something those dollars could of been used for proper marketing or a better effort in positive promotion of the industry.

I will change the title from

I will change the title from do to does.

Do actually works within the title if SEMPO is the name of the organisation, but in fact it is not. SEMPO is an acronym for Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization and so because of that DO is not an alternative for DOES.

As to the list. I have the kettle on, am about to make a cuppa and will get back to you :)

I worked in management for

I worked in management for years before going solo. No offence intended SportsGuy, but that is what we used to refer to as 'busy fool' activity.

If the end objective is to raise the profile and status of the industry, and at the end of 2-3 years it 'seems' like SEMPO has produced little, then it HAS produced little.

I have yet to meet a client or prospective client who has even heard of SEMPO.

I suppose it is technically possible that there will be a sudden 'flowering' and fanfares will sound, bunting get hung out and the whole world come beating a path to every professional SEO's door, but.... well.... I'd be more inclined to anticipate the sounding of 'last post' followed by a rapid collapse as members withdraw funding dismayed at the lack of progress.

I genuinely hope not, but the whole thing is starting to become a bit 'Dilbertesque', and that can't be good.

The problem is, it's a rapidly moving industry we are in - if a body is to represent it, rapid progress is required.

Point 1 I think the

Point 1

I think the committee / SEMPO didn't prioritise well enough here. Although I am sure this is worthwhile to some members I do not believe it is worthwhile to the industry as a whole and one of the main reasons you stated and I quote below.

the bottom line still remains, even with this list, that you should hire folks who are good fit with the organization

Point 2.

Networking, whether formal or informal have been going on within our industry and many others for years. Does organising an event for members benefit the industry as a whole (not in my opinion) and/or would organising a get together work to benefit the members at all to the benefits of SEO or PPC if they are already effective businesses within the industry? Networking and get togethers, are a prerequisite to an organisation being able to function not something to take credit or charge for.

Point 3.

Rubbish. See above.

Point 4.

I can well believe it has taken a LOT of work to put together the SEMPO institute but I am unable to ascertain how effective it is as it is innacessable to me as a non member without paying $500. I would be happy to pay $500 if I believed it would increase my knowledge but am not confident that will be the case.

I am afraid that other the Institute (which calling it such may well have legal ramifications in the UK if it isn't authorised to use the name Institute rather than an association - although I am no lawyer) which I can well believe may have some merit in training some new staff members at a few member companies I can see nothing from your examples that shows that SEMPO as an organisation has benefited SEO and PPC for the benefit of the industry as a whole.

The key aspects of any trade organisation, of which SEMPO purported to be when it was launched, is to fight the corner of the members, increase the awareness of the industry and deliver a meaningful and effective strategy to the threats that fight against the industry.

I have seen nothing from SEMPO on any of those points, but I am happy to be corrected.

Dilbertesque = Good

I genuinely hope not, but the whole thing is starting to become a bit 'Dilbertesque', and that can't be good.

I disagree there 4Eyes, it is a lot Dilbertesque and that is very good.

An effective SEMPO means more corporate and big business money flowing into SEO, which means more SEOs back in suits and wearing the corporate yoke, more big business dominated SERPs and less room for entrepreneurs and small businesses on the web.

The whole scenario is a 1984 nightmare come to life.

Keep up the good lack of work SEMPO you're doing great so far!

P.S. I might even join --

just to create more committees, create more internal dissension and general lower the organisations overall effectiveness (if that is possible).

That's a lot of work/commitment SportsGuy

Do you get paid?

Kali, I bow to your superior

Kali, I bow to your superior wisdom.

You are, of course, completely correct.

Here's the first clue

In an industry full of lone sharks and small businesses run by very aggressive, very independent, and very smart people, along comes SEMPO. They're latest claim to fame is a 'survey'. Also, they've had committee meetings, networking sessions, and they've put some time into working groups.

When I'm doing sweet dick all, I call it 'posting on threadwatch'. Others call it 'working groups'.

I feel a singed as a

I feel a singed as a marshmallow at a bonfire...LOL

Oh well, I tried - perhaps I didn't express myself well enough. I know I didn't share everything here (but it's not my place to and some of it isn't public yet, so there we go). Doubt it would change anyone's minds, but, meh...

One poster asked if I get paid for this - nope, not a penny - and I pay for my membership each year.

Basically I see it this way - if there's a problem, there are two sides - the side trying to do something about it, and the side not doing anything about it.

The problem that concerns me for this industry is a lack of standards that has lead to a crop of uneducated charlatans raping clients and offering no real service in return.

Is SEMPO going to change this - no idea, but I'm willing to put in some effort to see if I can maybe make a small difference to help things along in that direction. Maybe if everyone stepped up and threw a few hours at SEMPO it would be something even the toughest critics here would approve.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my a$$ is around here somewhere - I aim to find it and go home to lick my wounds... ;)

See ya'll in the next thread. :)

Basically I see it this way

Basically I see it this way - if there's a problem, there are two sides - the side trying to do something about it, and the side not doing anything about it.

You are VERY right about this, and I admire you as an individual for 2 main reasons. #1. You entered the lion's den and took on a fight.
#2. I do believe you are trying to change SEMPO to be what it should be

The 2nd point is unfortunately something I fear that can't be delivered under SEMPOs current incarnation or at all by SEMPO.

The problem that concerns me for this industry is a lack of standards that has lead to a crop of uneducated charlatans raping clients and offering no real service in return.

Standards in SEO or PPC are impossible to deliver as it is akin to one small town having lots of widget sellers, all banding together to advise and promote the industry of widget selling to the town's widget buyers. Why would widget seller one, want to assist widget seller two how to take more business (from the limited widget buyers in small town) away from him?

Our small town is (in reality) not the search engines but Google itself.

The other problem is that standards take time to deliver but every client and industry and marketplace has totally seperate needs and requirements. A PPC (Porn pills or casino) client does NOT need have the same requirements as a "yellow widget with green dots" client. Algo's are close to being dynamic and reaction to an algo change is neccesary and sticking to out of date (as they will be within potentially minutes) standards can NOT be in the clients' best interests at delivering best chance at best ROI.

May I suggest a chat on the phone mate, as I think SEMPO has a strong and passionate voice in you and I for one would become a member if I believed it was going forward in delivering best assistance for the industry. MY fear and believe is that what I believe best assistance for the industry (as per Aaron's post from 2004, linked from above) is, is markedly different from what SEMPO believe and indeed does.

So until I am shown different or believe that things are changing the title stays as is

Now you're hitting the nail

The problem that concerns me for this industry is a lack of standards that has lead to a crop of uneducated charlatans raping clients and offering no real service in return.

The second half of your statement is very true. I tell my clients (non-seo, because I don't go recruiting for seo clients) that 95% of the SEO'ers are either deliberately going to rip you off, or don't know what they're doing and have the same effect - so be very careful when hiring someone. I then explain that even size of the company and the cost of the contract are non-indicators of quality. I've seen $15k monthly contracts that were a joke, I've seen customers of mine hire some woman working out of here basement in Podahunk, Alaska kicking ass in the competitive serps and charging a grand or two a month.

The question is really whether standards are the way to correct this problem. Or perhaps whether the problem even needs to be corrected. And developing a feasible, applicable list of standards? Not even sure it can be done.

Ultimately, if that's the goal, it's an admirable one. The problem is in the implementation, and the fact that most folks see SEMPO as bloat.

Jason - you have a PM.

Jason - you have a PM. ;)

Wheel, and others:

I never claimed it would be easy, but shit, hard work never scared me. Crap, I've been there before in terms of building an organization from scratch into something a community actively supports from the local legislature to local individuals.

Here's a glimpse at that effort, which continues to thrive and help the community after almost three years of hard work. ;)

CBC Local news article on SWAT:

News video of us in action - damn proud to show this one:

Taking a good idea and making it work - oh yeah, that can be done. :)

And the standards

are based on what? The Google guidelines? Is there a litmus test for membership?

SportsGuy's efforts notwithstanding, it is not much more than a variation of the Better Business Bureau where the first thing a snake oil salesman does is pay the dues so he can claim legitimacy.

SWAT is very (VERY!!!)

SWAT is very (VERY!!!) admirable but that is more about you than SEMPO.

The problem that concerns me

The problem that concerns me for this industry is a lack of standards that has lead to a crop of uneducated charlatans raping clients and offering no real service in return.

I don't see that as the problem - the real problem is that there are a whole bunch of people in the industry who can't do the job particularly well and can't sell their services effectively either. These are the guys who will benefit from any success that SEMPO may have - as Kirby says, they'll pay their dues and use the badge as a mask for their various shortcomings.

Without blowing my own trumpet too much, I have never had any problems selling our services to clients - we get most of our business through referrals and 'sell' what each specific business actually needs - usually, but not exclusively, based on measurable success, measurable profitability, measurable ROI etc.... for their online activities. SEO/SEM is only part of the equation - much of the rest strays into areas of business consultancy.

FWIW, the best clients we have are the ones that were previously 'burned' by dodgy SEOs.

SWAT - my point was simply...

...that I'm not averse to working hard with groups of volunteers on something that I think matters to reach a solid outcome... ;)

4Eyes - excellent point on what sometimes makes a good client. Once bitten, twice shy, but when you gain their confidence, they feel better for it and the relationship works.

Just a note..

SportsGuy, my critiscism of SEMPO is aimed at the organisation as a whole. From what I see you read here and probably many other forums, blogs and SEO news sites and that indicates that you care about what you do and want to do it to the best of your ability. You probably hold those attributes in common with everyone else who posts regularly here and its what I would like to see in every SEO.

To explain some of the background behind my position regarding SEMPO (some of the more experienced members will have heard this before but I will reiterate it because it helps to understand the overall picture)

The real problem comes from the fact that SEO/SEM is a very broad church and there are many different paths one can take within the industry, from corporate SEO with very large corporations, right down to hobby site owners who want to make enough money to allow them to spend more time on their hobby and don't do any client SEO work.

This creates a situation where often the aims of some are at odds with the aims of others especially regarding the promotion of SEO/SEM as a profession.

To those in the corporate world SEO/SEM being a respected profession will help create job opportunities, keep wages high and put them on a par with other professionals within the organisation, and the more large businesses the embrace SEO/SEM the better the prospects.

However to those who don't like a corporate environment the promotion of SEO/SEM to corporates is a threat, as more big businesses embracing SEO/SEM means more corporate/big business domination of the SERPs and less opportunity for those with smaller budgets to compete.

As you may have guessed I sit in the second camp, I like working for myself and enjoy the challenge of helping people achieve their ambitions in running their own businesses. The world of corporate politics is long gone for me, for which I am exceedingly grateful.

The problem of the charlatans within the industry who offer cheap quick fixes which have little or no hope of succeeding, is one that I have to wrestle with my conscience about. I intrinsically dislike the thought of anyone being ripped off (especially the small business people), yet I know that their existence is indirectly helping me, by lowering the overall level of trust for SEOs and keeping potential competition consequently lower for myself and my clients.

To finish off all I can say is that I hope that the SEOs working for the corporates I have to compete against aren't half as conscientious as yourself.

Kali - you're a gem...

The real problem comes from the fact that SEO/SEM is a very broad church and there are many different paths one can take within the industry, from corporate SEO with very large corporations, right down to hobby site owners who want to make enough money to allow them to spend more time on their hobby and don't do any client SEO work.

This is a critical point - many different paths to basically the same goals. Someone, IIRC, mentioned soemthing about "herding cats" above.

Yeah, those points resonate with me as it's all a balancing act - how to you regulate a business with offices in New York the same way as Johnny Lunchbox in his basement?

You really can't. I mean, fairly. The small guy cannot/won't/doesn't want to afford the step-up costs associated with an organization because ti just doesn't work/matter to them in any real sense.

The flip side is the bigger businesses who can afford this sort of involvement often back it for their own reasons - optics, prestige (oh, stop laughing...), exposure, etc.

Is anyone coming to the party really interested in rules?

Maybe not - but that doesn't mean we (collectively, the larger "we") shouldn't get cracking on prepping them anyway - taking our best stab at them to be ready for the day when there is a real need to implement something.

I simply see SEMPO as a group that's heading in that direction.

I also believe that there's room for everyone in the pool - small, big, offices, laptop on the beach - so long as you're doing good by your clients, go for it.

But, as has been noted many times, there's a critical lack of skilled folks manning the keyboards in many cases. Again, SEMPO is at least trying to bring something to the market to help in that direction.

Sure, it costs money, but it's a bushel cheaper than going to trade school or college to learn a skill/start a career. The content is the real deal, so those new start out on the right foot (I hated, 5+ years ago trying to understand what was BS v. real/useful - heck, I didn't know enough to know I didn't know enough - how was I supposed to separate the wheat from the chaffe?).

I guess this comes down to, while I do understand the thoughts many have expressed, and agree with many as well, I'm in the camp of "Better to be doing something, than nothing". Not that others haven't tried or aren't trying as well, this just happens to be my vehicle of choice.

*Sorry if I'm rambling here gang - my solid 3 hours of sleep last night are not serving me the best right now... ;)

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