Working together for standards The Web Standards Project and Eric Meyer share a laugh at the expense of the panelists and organizers of SES 2004. Some samples of the SEO silliness, as paraphrased by

quotation removed due to doubts about accuracy

I must say, I’ve worked with a couple of SEO outfits recently and neither of them spewed any of that nonsense. Matter of fact, at least one of them recommended increasing use of CSS, more sophisticated use of semantic markup and so on. Oh, there were a few bits of advice that weren’t terribly good from an accessibility or validation point of view, but on the whole they guys were knowledgeable and sensitive to the realities of assistive technologies and alternative browsing devices.

It’s a shame SES 2004 was saddled with these clowns, rather than the more knowledgeable professionals I know are out there.

Update: Eric Meyer has pointed out via email that might have been a wee bit harsh — if not seriously inaccurate — in his assessment of the SES 2004 session Advanced Design Issues: CSS, Javascript & Frames .

Eric cites the ‘clowns’ professionalism and generally quite reasonable postings in the comments to the article. I encourage everyone to read them, paying particular attention to those by conference organizer Danny Sullivan and presenters Matthew Bailey and Shari Thurow.

Do feel free, however, to skip over the debate on whether SEO is just a bunch of snake oil and spamming techniques. As I noted above, it isn’t — or needn’t be, whatever the bad apples in the profession may think.

Most especially, it’s worth noting Danny Sullivan’s admonition that the point of the session wasn’t necessarily teach optimal web building techniques but rather to teach people how techniques in use affect search engines.

Fair enough.

But what frustrates me a bit — and this, like the rest of the post, is my personal opinion only — is that the group seem needlessly tone deaf to standards and, to a lesser degree, acdessibility and other aspects of best practices. For example, Matthew Bailey defends his advice on browser sniffing by simply saying that if you use it, you need to update it as new browsers are released. Well, duh. But wouldn’t it be better just not to use it at all? Maybe use progressive enhancement to support all browsers with the same pages instead? If you’re giving advice, why not advise the best practice rather than just less-bad?

Update II: Eric Meyer has posted a follow-up to his snarky SES 2004 post. He offers a heartfelt apology to all involved for taking the SES crew to task based only on’s description of the session. In fact, it sounds like he’s now really keen to speak at an upcoming SES. That’s Eric all over: even when he arguably puts his foot wrong, he handles it in a classy manner and something good comes of it.

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