Why SEMPO is Worse than the Defunct Search Marketing Associations

Search Engine Watch lost its magic glow the day it got scummed by SEMPO. A friend pointed me to a 3 part series on Search Engine Watch about how you can't learn SEO from a book. The author of these articles used the same articles to recommend you get certified from the SEMPO Institute. Coincidentally, the author's profile mentions that he is an author for the SEMPO Institute.

But, to be honest, SEMPO saved my life. If they hadn't sent my wife an SEO who got her site penalized she probably never would have found me, bought my book, started chatting with me, and saved my life.

Published: January 3, 2008 by Aaron Wall in internet


January 3, 2008 - 10:23pm

Good you're seeing the positive side of all this, Aaron. I'm still waiting for SEMPO to save my life.

January 3, 2008 - 10:43pm

Methinks my recent comment on SEMPO has got me into some lukewarm water ....

January 3, 2008 - 11:04pm

Nah. I like your comments and you seem like a cool guy to me. :)

January 5, 2008 - 3:50am

......the owner of is on the board of SEMPO (or in the upper echelons of SEO....)

Anyone want to buy three PR 5 dom names, nice link equity etc....??? :( Preferably an untraceable SEO/M biz in the Outer Hebrides (tent address optional)

I'm so upset I'm going to cry........

I'm a little honest, yet cool - nice guy type, fish in a great big pond

Thanks for the comment Aaron.

January 3, 2008 - 10:44pm

That is interesting to know. I'm still getting to know the ins and outs of the SEO community and the good and the bad. I came across SEMPO and I always kinda wondered about it.

Now I know ;)

January 3, 2008 - 10:55pm

Ah man, you've gotta stop hinting at these interesting stories and not filling in the blanks. Who sent what SEO where that got which site banned from what how and this save your life..... huh?

January 3, 2008 - 11:03pm

Hi Peter
My wife got her first SEO from SEMPO. Her site, which currently ranks well, was penalized in Google for excessive reciprocal links. It doesn't add much value to the conversation for me to name the individual SEO provider who scammed her.

January 4, 2008 - 12:42am

You like SEMPO the same way that I like Amway...my wife's former boyfriend valued Amway over their relationship...worked out pretty well for me:.)

So, no bad-mouthing Amway in my presence...

Jeff Preston
January 4, 2008 - 1:01am

A little off topic, I saw you and your wife at Pubcon and you both looked really happy.

January 4, 2008 - 5:56am

Nice call out Aaron. That's pretty funny - you can't learn SEO from a book, but you can learn it from blogs? I didn't actually read the articles, so maybe there's more there than I saw scanning.

Hey Todd - Amway rules!! Nice work. ;)

January 4, 2008 - 5:58pm

Actually, Adam, you can most definitely learn SEO from blogs. You can also learn from reading forum threads, and various other online resources.

Of course, the bulk of true SEO learning is done by experimentation, trial and error, and of course, actual SEO work. In the end, you must forge your own SEO philosophy, identify legit sources of authority (like Aaron) and develop your own "network" for support and brainstorming.

That being said, as Aaron stated, you cannot learn SEO from a static book or course offering. For starters, by the time the book/offering goes to print it's already outdated.

January 4, 2008 - 7:49pm

I agree that you have to get wet in order to learn to swim. But I also think any well written book will give a newbie a good foundation for learning. All the details won't be always right all the time, but most of the SEO fundamentals have been slow to change over the years. An optimized, quality website that adds value usually is not highly susceptible to algorithm updates.

January 4, 2008 - 9:28pm

I hope you meant scammed.... since it is all initially learning online unless you are doing things trial and error - then it is about reading... blogs, forums, books - they are all words to read and learn from.

Funny I did not read that blog entry until I saw it on your site....

January 5, 2008 - 8:23am

Hi Aaron - I don't think I've ever commented on your site before. I was prompted to Sphinn this post as I was quite shocked to learn of such tactics used by that SEW author. I guess you could say your book is an indirect competitor of Search Engine College but I'd never stoop to that type of low crap just to steal sales from you. Let's hope the author acted under his own steam and not under direct orders from the institute. I suppose you can be comforted by the fact that they feel threatened by your book! I enjoy your posts by the way and I've watched with (grudging) admiration as you've built up your book's reputation. We've never met but mutual friends give you the thumbs up so I figure you're ok, for a competitor, LOL. Congrats on your success.

January 5, 2008 - 8:39pm

Thanks a lot for the kind comment Kalena. I wish you and Search Engine College the best in 2008 and beyond.

January 5, 2008 - 8:48am

Wow ... they were a bit underhanded there! To be honest Aaron ... I don't see how they're aiding the industry at all. When some industry PR issues arise (eg. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22504312/), where are they? Should they not attempt to be the collective voice of the industry ... our own lobby group so to speak? Now granted ... I'm not a member because I don't see the real benefits, other than to those on the board (maybe I'm wrong here).

January 5, 2008 - 8:37pm

Hi Jeff
I just sent someone from BusinessWeek an email about that article and will see if I can get a cleanup or rebuttal of some sort.

January 6, 2008 - 1:54am

That may be the worst article I've ever seen. That guy couldn't sell a damn lollipop. He should join SEMPO :)

January 6, 2008 - 2:12am

It's just been pointed out to me on Sphinn that Ron's articles didn't actually mention SEOBook. I was confused by your post Aaron and assumed he had specifically targeted you. I only scanned Ron's posts but at the time I saw a link to Mike Grehan's book and got it confused with yours. So it changes my stance on this a bit. If Ron didn't specifically compare your book or give it a negative review, I think your reaction might be a little bit knee-jerk. *added* I do agree Ron was pushing his own agenda a little bit far on what should have been an impartial site. But we can probably all be accused of doing that to some extent.

January 6, 2008 - 2:03am

Well if someone basically craps on a category of sites and you have a leading brand that exactly matches the name of that category it feels unclean. Then if they do it under the guise of helping people as a non profit, then do a self promo...it is pretty dirty.

If SEMPO was not a non-profit I probably would not have cared. But if I set up a non-profit to advance the industry then call other classes and providers of information in that same industry crap to promote the stuff I was selling I wouldn't feel to honest about it.

January 6, 2008 - 2:19am

I do see your point. And if I assumed the connection to your brand, then I'm sure others did too. But it's difficult to prove and demonizing him for something ambiguous probably goes in his favor rather than yours, unfortunately. Anyway, it all makes for interesting reading and commentary!

January 6, 2008 - 7:28pm

....it was me that made the comment on Ron's post on SEW.

I was the "reader quoted" about SEO books without the courtesy of a mention as requested (twice)

I'm not a scaredy cat hideaway type so I did ask for my name and details to be published - to no avail... I didn't even ask for a backlink...

Anyway for those that read the article I said I didn't learn SEO from books and that I learned it from blogs I didn't mention this was one of my favoUrites (spelt properly ;) ) I fell into SEO way back in 97 quite by mistake and learn most new stuff from "true thinkers" and whatever I can figure out myself

I have bought almost every SEO book available and cannot justify any of those purchases and, consequently, resold them on Amazon.

I learned nothing - not a nugget...

I have bought and treasure Aaron's book and not passed it on, sold it or abused his work at all - I respect the guy too much to be such a d$%@k - my wife is reading his book now and I hope to be able to get her onboard with my "since 1997" little solo op service.

I regularly visit this blog and about two others that I think are cool - Sphinn and the guy in Pleasanton, CA (Andrew Shotland???)

I would recommend SEO Book and one other e Book that's it - the rest sold on Amazon et all are old news and I swear I must stop buying them.....

Cheers everyone

Psst... 3 domain names for sale all $1000 each and all have PR 4 with nice ages and link equity, all are SEO related.

I want to buy a defibrillator for my vehicle (saving lives is cool) and a new mac book so any offers to - david28078@gmail.com

January 6, 2008 - 8:11pm

my wife is reading his book now and I hope to be able to get her onboard with my "since 1997" little solo op service

Well that is cool. My wife found me through work and works with me. Greg Boser also said that my book really helped him and his wife be able to talk about SEO stuff together much better. That feels kinda cool to know I might help others have a bit of what my wife and I have. :)

January 6, 2008 - 11:01pm

Can't beat a good wife Aaron - sounds like you have met your soul mate, life companion, best friend and wife all in one - just like I did - great stuff.

I remember when I was DJing one of my my many way COOL weddings in San Francisco years ago and the Bride and Groom were "Craig's List Couples" - they met on CL and booked every vendor from CL - I still hear from them and they are really happy - amazing what happiness the internet has given so many of us....

Ron Jones
January 6, 2008 - 11:44pm

Aaron, if you take a closer look at my column, esp the second one, I point out that I am not "slamming the SEO book business" and that pioneers like yourself and others like Mike Grehan (Search Engine Marketing Book), Bill Hunt and Mike Moran (Search Engine Marketing, Inc.) have contributed much to this industry by compiling their knowledge and experience into a book. But does the learning end there? No. The purpose of the column is to point out "more" resources that help expand our SEO knowledge.


January 7, 2008 - 10:34am

After reading the comments, I'm a little sickened by the "I didn't read the whole article but I have a valid opinion" commentary. Allow me to fake cough "BS." Did anyone actually read the article (including Aaron)?

It specifically states that a book is a good start, but because SEO information is always in flux, you should keep up to date with fluxing information, like blogs, then points directly to Aaron's blog as a good resource.

Gift horse. Mouth. Google it.

January 8, 2008 - 2:54am

I glanced at a few of those articles but thought it was pretty much a waste of time. It's funny though that I didn't even consider it as an attack on SEOBook b/c frankly what you do is so much more than just a typical textbook, which is what I assumed the articles were referring to.

It's even slimmer if they did indeed mean to attack you personally. Frankly you add more to the SEO community in one day than SEMPO has in its entire existence. The support the community has shown you through various public trials, lawsuits, Cutts, etc. is a testament to the value you provide everyone.

January 8, 2008 - 4:53am

When it came into existence, I considered joining SEMPO. After all, it had a host of celebrity SEO names attached to it. I looked at those names and thought, "This must be all right". Then I looked at what you had to do to join. You had to give them a photo and $200. That was it. So I thought, "Anyone can do that, what's the point?" and I never joined. I've never joined any SEO association, to be honest. I know there's some kind of UK thing but it looks like a boys club. If you're our friend we'll let you join, kind of thing. I stay solo.


January 8, 2008 - 2:51pm

BB That's how I feel about SEMPO.... Old Boys Club

I've been a Member on and off since the inception but no more as I cannot stand the levels of $$$s that buy you a better status.

Being a small service I can't justify $ x thousands for a bit of back slapping so I always joined at the lowest rate which always made me feel like a "less intelligent being" than the guys with deeper pockets than me.

To be honest I'd rather give $$$s to Aaron, Rand and one other person and get some considerable thought, insight and respect without feeling like a "lesser mortal"


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