December 16, 2008
Last Major SEO Rift Healed
Search engine optimization has existed as an online marketing service for almost fifteen years. In that time, a strong and vibrant community has formed amongst SEO specialists. Like all communities, the SEO sector has had its share of internal arguments and conflict but within such a small and highly communicative community, minor rifts can be amplified to magnificent proportions. By far the longest standing rift in the SEO community has been that of the IHELPYOU.com/FORUMS community vs. all SEOs they perceived as black-hat practitioners. For the past seven or eight years, the members at IHelpYou.com/Forums have made it their life missions to "out" and harass SEOs using techniques they did not agree with. White-hat vigilantism led to insults, name-calling, guilt by association and sustained bombardment, the fate of those who fell under IHelpYou.com/Forum's watchful eyes. Led by forum owner Doug Heil, the membership at IHelpYou.com/Forums have managed to piss a lot of people off. An awful lot of people. When it was announced that Doug would be speaking at SES Chicago mainstream SEO community reaction ran from bemusement to outrage. One speaker actually dropped her name off the speaker line-up in protest over Doug's inclusion. Over here at WebmasterRadio.FM, we saw a chance to tap into a well of latent drama within the community and produce some strong radio programming. We're the media and controversy makes us rather giddy. Search Engine Strategies organizers had scheduled Doug to speak on what everyone assumed would be a knock-em-down, drag-it-out session on the last day of the conference, "Black Hat, White Hat & the Best Kept Secrets to Search". As scheduling worked out, WebmasterRadio.FM had a first crack at the controversy when we asked Doug to sit in on the Drunken Webmasters' RoundTable Tuesday night, two days before his panel. We expected fireworks. We expected explosions. We had Dave Naylor, Todd Friesen and Daron Babin ready to feed Doug the raw meat we figured he would call spam and feast upon. Little did we know peace was upon us. As it turns out, Doug, Dave, Todd and Daron actually like each other. Putting the four of them in a friendly space allowed them to actually talk without the safetybar of a spacebar in front of them. They tended to agree on most things and find ways to make any lingering disagreements into an enormously interesting conversation. No fangs, no back-biting, little controversy but one amazing conversation. As Doug wrote in his forum the other day,
"Todd Friesen; This dude rocks. He tries his best to maintain the blackhat image, but trust me; after having quite a few talks with him, he's nothing but pure BS and totally whitehat. That's right; whitehat. You've been outed Todd. I think he understands my definition of cloaking now as well. David Naylor; Very sharp, smart, and stick in other words in here as well. I wish he would shut the hell up and breathe occasionally though. It was very hard to get in a word edge-wise on the same panel as this chatterbox. Dave is really nothing but a teddybear. He's a blackhat, but I think I can sway him to the other side eventually. Oh, and it didn't help that I had to share a mic."From where we sit, the rift between the membership at IHelpYou.com/Forums and the rest of the community was very real. Now that rift appears well on its way to healing. Thank goodness and thank common sense. It looks as if the entire community is maturing.