Twitter LinkedIn Google+
WP Greet Box icon

Welcome back, visitor!. You might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for online marketing info as Todd posts it.

Switch Reading StyleNighttimeDaytime

Why Everyone Should Join SEMPO Even Though it Kinda Sucks

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 15 years and 137 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

I really haven’t made up my mind about SEMPO yet, and certainly don’t have the big bucks to pony up personally for a membership (I’d get much more personal satisfaction from a new ipod or digital camera I’m sure). I don’t see many advantages for We Build Pages at this point in our company lifecycle either, but for many people it may be a good option. For some reason I woke up this morning with some thoughts of SEMPO on my mind, so I thought I’d explore those a bit further. There are some great minds behind SEMPO, and some excellent people that have helped got it to where it is. There are also some very smart people who have jumped ship and had very valid criticisms (albeit not always contructive) of the organization.

I hear affiliates and freelancers constantly badmouth SEMPO, and it made me wonder about potential advantages and disadvantages to membership in the search engine marketing world’s exclusive pay for play club. I think one of the reasons affiliate marketers despise the organization so much is because it is the antithesis of many of the things they enjoy about this industry. Namely the ability to sit at home in their underwear on a laptop and call it “work”. The threat of bringing suit and ties back to their workplace and worse yet the idea of being pulled back into a rigid 9 – 5 schedule is not an idea that many affiliates like. I find both sides of the arguments somewhat compelling, as I often find myself floundering between the two worlds (corporate SEO consulting vs. affiliate “bath-rober”). I certainly like the flexibility and relaxation that comes with sitting down to my laptop on a lazy saturday afternoon, but I also enjoy the satisfaction that comes from working with a larger well known brand when they pay great and actually listen and get things done.

Why Everyone Should Join SEMPO:

Credibility for your company
More credibility in the eyes of the advertising world. As stupid as it may be, logos add credibility online, and it may be worth the money alone just to throw a SEMPO logo on your website for prospects.

Begun and Run by Great Minds
SEMPO was founded by some of the brightest in the business that have donated very valuable time to represent the industry to onlookers. To the general public the search marketing industry doesn’t have exactly a stellar reputation. While some don’t care, and don’t mind explaining to friends and relatives that they “design websites” others would like the world to understand that we work in a great industry that helps to make many businesses successful.

Research, Resources, and Services
There is some very nice research coming from SEMPO and from having SEM companies work together. They are starting to build a community that has traditionally been only a part of forums after the initial skepticism is wearing off. The job board is growing, the research is helping, the value to members is improving. There are people working hard on this to make it a better service to members.

I Care About the Industry Reputation
Most SEM’s dread when people ask them what they do. It is difficult to explain. Web design, technology, marketing. We rank people high in search engines. I’m not real excited about ethical debates, and I have no problem with people wanting to make a living in more high risk ventures. I don’t, however, want to be associated with e-mail spammers, search engine submitters, or people who sell overpriced meta-tag optimization. I like small business owners much more than I like these folks, and our reputation with them is important. 90% of this industry is great, and I’d like to see it represented that way. We’re really not shady, worthless criminals

Benefits to the Independant SEM
There are more benefits arising to the independant SEM. They are working to add incentives for smaller shops to be a part of a community that has been somewhat centered around the larger role of search marketing in the global marketplace. Behind every big company is a lot of good individuals. An organization can only be as good as it treats its smallest member.

Why SEMPO Sucks

You’re only as strong as your weakest link – defend your industry peers
My buddy Aaron Wall faced some legal issues from a SEO company that was nothing but bullsh*t. They probably COULD have been SEMPO members if they had anted up the cash to join. SEMPO gave Aaron no assistance, despite that fact that he is a very active and important member of the search marketing community. I was very disappointed with their stance on this issue. It showed me that they are not willing to stand up for some of the true members of the community, and was truly a missed marketing opportunity on their part as well. There was a rally of independant folks who helped out Aaron to defend what we knew was right. TP has helped to tarnish the industry reputation, and they were allowed to drag one of our own through the mud. This is my personal number one reason why SEMPO sucks.

Don’t Open Up Easy Criticism
Inconstancies with link architecture to the homepage? C’mon guys, I know the cobbler’s kids wears crappy shoes, but it’s not hard to send all links to the homepage to a root file or do a rewrite (you can easily ask some of the brightest minds in SEM about this). Yes, I’m sure there are bigger fish to fry, but please get your house in order so you don’t become an easy target for valid criticism.

Search Engine’s are not Search Engine Marketers
Allowing search engine’s to be a part of the organization has always seemed a bit counterintuitive to me. Dialogue with the search engines is certainly important, and we all want to have a good relationship with the hand that feeds us, but allowing the search engines to sponsor the organization is the equivalent of allowing Ford, Chevy, and GM to sponsor the united auto workers. While the money is nice and it must certainly help relations, it seems to be a bit of a conflict of interest in my mind. Collusion is much more commonplace in SEM currently than with most industries (due to the young age the industry I would assume), but it will certainly spell trouble if there is ever discrepencies between the Big 3 and a majority of SEM companies.

I’m treading into very shaky territory here, but isn’t there enough of this in Washington?
Do we really want to promote the bipartisan conservative/ liberal model in the search engine marketplace?

Many of my personal back and forth conflicting thoughts of the SEMPO organization stem also from the concepts based around unions and free trade. Having never made up my mind on the validity of either schools of thought makes my personal conclusions all the more difficult. I grew up not to far from the Auto maker capital of the world, but went to a very capitalistic free trade business school (which had it’s graduate school founded by Richard DeVoss). There is certainly validity to worker’s rights and the defense of your industry peers, but free trade, capitalism, and reducing ineffeciencies in a marketplace haven’t served us wrong much yet in our great country.

I should also note the creation of Search Marketing Association North America which has is having a more difficult time with growth, but have not accepted (at least to my knowledge) the assistance of the search engines. They’ve also shown some support for Aaron with his suit. SMA-NA is run by some brilliant minds as well, and I think it’s worthwhile to support this dedicated group of individuals (yes, I am a member).


*added – Local groups are great too, like DFWSEM (thanks Bill), and my (former) local group GLWP back in Michigan.

More information about Todd Malicoat aka stuntdubl.

Twitter LinkedIn 

  • Bill Hartzer

    Great post about SEMPO. Just don’t forget that there are local search marketing groups out there, as well, like DFWSEM (

  • randfish

    SMA-NA is the way to go for me as well. It may be a few years before it’s on par with SEMPO, but I think it can be a much better association. There are too many troubles, primarily in the past, but also for the future with SEMPO.

    Besides which, the SMA already has SMA-UK and SMA-EU which are off to great starts. That can help the organization build the reputation and develop. We should be hearing more about the planning and strategy at SES NY on Wednesday night.

  • GreenBUILT

    Good SEMPO post. Ever since SEMPO turned its back on the TP issue, I’ve been pretty disgusted. I think that assisting Aaron Wall could have been a golden opportunity for them to justify their existence (and perhaps their membership fees as well).

  • Chris Boggs

    Ok since this is a popular blog I want everyone to know that in no way am I expressing the views of SEMPO on this matter. I am tired of sitting by and watching this conversation develop in this manner at a variety of forums and blogs, so I will lay out my opinion based on a sort of inside view. I am involved with some committees there and actually am running for the board this year. There are people inside of SEMPO that do wish we could step up and help Aaron, as well as having a “Code of Ethics.” As a matter of fact, I know of at least one member that is running for the board “under that platform.”

    If you look at it from the point of view of SEMPO, the TP issue is a “don’t touch with a ten foot pole” topic. Unless every member of the association stood up and said SEMPO should support Aaron, it would be presumptive to make a statement. I spoke with Dana Todd (the president) about this specific issue, and she laid that out very clearly. The possible legal ramifications are too much for a non-profit to risk.

    Todd you make some valid arguments for joining SEMPO as well as for not joining, and I am sure as usual your post will appeal to people of differing views. I have also joined SMA-NA and look forward to its growth, and I feel strongly that the best thing for our industry will be for SEMPO and SMA-NA to at least publicly sit on the same side of the stadium.

  • Pingback: SEO Speedwagon