Google-ACCC article puts focus on Journalism standards

A recent post published by ITNews has managed to again raise a level of concern about the quality of Technology journalism online and but also highlights the danger of being quoted out of context to support a poorly research article.  When you read the quote from “Truman Hoyle” below you will see that you risk the danger of appearing like you have no idea about online marketing and one might wonder why you were quoted in the first place. The IT News article has pissed me as it was recently written around the recent judgement against the Trading Post which they were successfully sued by the ACCC over engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to Google AdWords campaigns but the article tries to link the decision back to SEO on some level. The article screenshot is included below because I have no interest in linking to mis-information.

Google-ACCC case puts focus on SEO

The case was about Sponsored Links

In what could amount to lazy journalism combined with failing to actually read a court judgement one of their journalists decided to pick an alternative viewpoint on how the case outcome had put focus onto SEO.  The mention of links does not automatically mean the story is about SEO, there is a large difference between SEO & SEM and the case is very clear that it’s about “sponsored links” as that term is mentioned 39 times during the case judgement.  If you check you will find that SEO is not mentioned once during the whole judgement  and the judge actually highlights that there is a clear difference between “organic results” and “sponsored links” just in case you took the time to read the judgement.  Part of the ACCC case was trying to force the judge to accept that users might not be able to easily identify between Organic and Paid results but the judgement focuses around Google AdWords and does not entertain the idea of SEO.  To re-enforce the flimsy nature of the article and how it is lacking support there is also no mention of any variation of SEO such as “search engine optimisation” to further re-inforce the point that this journalists failed to take the care the due diligence before writing this sub-standard post!

The journalist fails to make any real supporting links between the article theme about SEO and the actual court judgement, and gets a random quote from a lawyer at Truman Hoyle who weren’t even involved in the case.  The statement by Bridget Edghill doesn’t even really fit within the context of the judgement and could have even been taken out of context in reference to the actual court judgement.

Suggest you retract your quote

If I was Truman Hoyle Lawyers I would at least get my comment retracted as it does not put forward an image of a law firm that has an understanding of the difference between Google AdWords (case theme) and SEO (not discussed). I don’t see any way the judgement implied or suggested there was a link between the case and placing SEO users on notice as the case was about Google AdWords not Google Organic results, so any link between the two is fanciful.  There is a clear statement that there is no defamation implied or directed towards Truman Hoyle as it is clearly the journalist who has written a poorly researched article and added a law firm to try and add some credibility to his mis-informed article.

Journalists have to answer for fact checking

It is no wonder that business struggles to make the identification between how Google AdWords (Paid results) and SEO (organic results) actually differs. The journalist obviously found the word “link” in the judgement and choose to ignore the entire theme of the judgement along with the heavy use of “sponsored” links throughout the reasons for the judgement.  There is a very big difference in the context of the word “link” and it’s use for Google AdWords and some basic fact checking would have ensured this post actually added some value around the judgement instead of mis-informing the readers of ITNews.

Google AdWords is NOT part of SEO

Just to re-enforce the point while longer term there might be a case where SEO might place a website in front of a judge currently it’s just in the minds of fanciful journalists who don’t take the time to research articles before posting them! Feel free to respond with nasty and unsupported anonymous comments below or you can reach out to the the journalists who wrote the mis-informed post on twitter.

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2 comments

  1. Damo says:

    You make some fair points, but I personally believe SEM shouldn’t be used to describe pay per click (adwords or other), I reckon it should be used to describe marketing for search engines which comprises of both optimisation and pay per click advertising… just my opinion… :)

  2. James says:

    I agree David some very poor journalism, I was flabbergasted that this specific journalist had made the story clearly targeting SEO. The different between SEO and (PPC) Sponsored Links is huge.