ASA Guidelines & SEO Regulating a Cowboy Industry
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 MostlyAboutChocolate.com ... but I am not a lawyer
No, RLY – I am not a lawyer My dad just died a little more inside
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
ALL LINKS ARE PAID LINKS There, I’ve said it...
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
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 Splogs/Flogs Marcommsmicrosites where the content is misleading or false
Wait... Didn’t I read something like this before...? Only it was a CRIMINAL OFFENCE with JAIL TIME...?
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulation 2008 No. 1277 PART 5 SUPPLEMENTARY 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.
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.
So... Does the SEO Industry Need Regulation ...and can it be regulated?
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
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...