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Regulation in Search – Is it Viable? - Judith Lewis
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Regulation in Search – Is it Viable? - Judith Lewis


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  • 1. ASA Guidelines & SEO
    Regulating a Cowboy Industry
  • 2. Who Am I?
    Got on the Internet in 1986 at my school lab
    Working online with search since 1996
    Paid & Natural Search – all aspects
    Worked in-house within e-Commerce, Publishing & High Tech
    At i-level worked with Orange, COI, NatWest/RBS, Fidelity, GalaCoral, NBC Universal, Readers Digest, Bayer & more
    At Beyond have worked with Virgin Trains, Family Search, Amadeus, AMD, AmEx & more
    Chosen as a founding Modern Muse, contributed to a book on promoting websites, top finalist “Female Social Media Guru” (not yet awarded), one of the SEO Chicks and I blog at
    ... but I am not a lawyer
  • 3. No, RLY – I am not a lawyer
    My dad just died a little more inside
  • 4. Extending the Digital Remit of the CAP Code
    From 1 March 2011, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will regulate advertisers’ own marketing communications on their own websites and in other non-paid-for space online under their control.
    The extended online digital remit of the CAP Code
    3.3 Advertisements and other marketing communications by or from companies, organisations or sole traders on their own websites, or in other non-paid-for space online under their control, that are directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods, services, opportunities and gifts, or which consist of direct solicitations of donations as part of their own fund-raising activities.
    3.12. The extended digital remit will not apply to the list of content already excluded by the CAP Code. The most relevant exclusions include:
    • Natural listings on a search engine or a price comparison site
    There, I’ve said it...
  • 6. All Links are Paid Links
    Product reviews where reviewer gets to keep product (do you really want that chocolate back... Ewwww...)
    Journalists who are taken for lunch/dinner/drinks and write about a product/company
    Advertising in general – good old fashioned ads
  • 7. What Is Being Targeted?
    Where an attempt is made to deliberately obfuscate the nature of an endorsement in the form of a link on a website which could constitute an ad
    Marcommsmicrosites where the content is misleading or false
  • 8. Wait...
    Didn’t I read something like this before...?
    Only it was a CRIMINAL OFFENCE with JAIL TIME...?
  • 9. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
    The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulation 2008
    Regulation 3(4)(d)
    SCHEDULE 1 Commercial practices which are in all circumstances considered unfair:
    Using editorial content in the media to promote a product where a trader has paid for the promotion without making that clear in the content or by images or sounds clearly identifiable by the consumer (advertorial)
    22. Falsely claiming or creating the impression that the trader is not acting for purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession, or falsely representing oneself as a consumer.
  • 10.
  • 11. What’s the worst that could happen…?
    For criminal offences the penalties are:
    on summary conviction, a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (£5,000 at time of writing)
    on conviction on indictment, a fine or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.
  • 12. So... Does the SEO Industry Need Regulation
    ...and can it be regulated?
  • 13. Yes...
    Cowboy reputation
    Deliberate obfuscation
    No one to complain to when
    defrauded who specialises in SEO
    No industry body to check for
    validity of claims
    Anyone can claim to be an SEO
    Self-regulation not working
    News stories about “black hat” SEO harming everyone
    Need regulator/industry body to tackle bad press, bad apples & need for a place to ask questions when hiring person/agency
  • 14. No...
    Black hats more criminals now than edgy SEOs
    Consumer protection act makes many
    practices a criminal offence
    ASA is a... Well we know now what they are!
    Immature industry
    No clear set of necessary skills
    Hundreds of legitimate existing practitioners
    No clear qualifications
    Supreme executive power derives from a
    mandate from the masses, not from some
    farcical aquatic ceremony...
  • 15. Thank you…