No sex please, we're SEO's

There seems to be a furore these days about the reputation of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Everyone’s huffing and puffing about it in the Search Engine Forums. That clamor came to mind in seeing a headline this morning, No ‘no sex please, we’re lawyers’ for Canadian Bar Association.

Of course, lawyers don’t have the greatest reputation. Will this move lawyers down the totem pole of reputation? Is there a natural ranking for reputation and if so how do the professionals offering SEO or SEM rank on that scale.

I presume that towards the top of the reputation scale, you should see perhaps doctors, nurses, Buddhist monks, social workers and priests. Towards the bottom of the reputation scale, you might put real-estate agents, advertizing agents, used car salesmen and ladies of easy virtue. These judgements only have value if in some sense they’re the widely held views of the population at large.

Of course reputation comes partly from the nature of the job and partly from the way a typical practitioner does the job. There’s nothing inherent in selling used cars that puts it low down on the totem pole. However the common view is that in general those selling used cars are not to be taken at face value.

So for SEO/SEM, if its reputation is low on this totem pole, a number of questions come to mind.

How do SEO’s or SEM’s compare with advertizing agents or used car salesmen?

Is this due to the nature of what is involved in doing SEO/SEM?

Or is it because of some of the typical characters who are doing SEO/SEM?