Local Paid Inclusion, aka SEM Industry Histrionics

For whatever reason, the SEO and SEM community loves a good scandal. 7-8 years ago, when I was relatively new in the industry, it seemed as though there was a scandal every week: black hat SEO, cloaking, forum catfights…. it was crazy.

As the industry has matured, the kids have settled down. The daily shouting matches between SEOs have been reduced to a couple times a year.

This is one of those times.

A couple weeks ago, Bruce Clay, an industry stalwart and well-known white hatter, announced a new service called Local Paid Inclusion. In a very brief nutshell, this was going to be a service that, in partnership with Google, Yahoo, Bing, and major directories, would offer advertisers guaranteed paid placement at the top of local search listings.

Seriously? Who, in this day and age, would fall for this?

Anybody remember the old Real Keywords scam? Where advertisers could supposedly pay this shyster company thousands of dollars per year for “guaranteed #1 listings on up to 30 keywords,” when in reality the Real Keywords scamsters were just buying PPC ads?

No respectable SEM fell for that back in the day, and I’m honestly beyond shocked that Bruce Clay fell for something like that today. I’ve met Bruce several times over the years, and he has always been the pinnacle of reason, intelligence, ethics, and professionalism – almost a paragon that others could only hope to imitate.

Why, then, did he let himself and his company get involved in this huge kerfuffle???

And the bigger question, at least in my mind: Why are SEOs so dramatic? When’s the last time anyone in the PPC industry caused this kind of stir? Can you even think of one time where a PPC industry luminary got involved in something so shady that it caused all their peers to start hanging them out to dry on Twitter?

Don’t get me wrong – I still have a lot of respect for Bruce and the things he’s done for SEO and SEM. I have a lot of respect for the work most SEOs do. And it sounds like there may have been some substance to Bruce’s announcement. But clearly he jumped the gun, which is shocking given his experience and business acumen.

The way the SEO industry reacts to stuff like this never ceases to amaze me. What do you think about all this? Share in the comments!

For another interesting take on this issue, check out this Wordstream Blog post.

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