Bas's column: SEMMYS: where was Europe?

Mon 9 February 2009 11:03, Bas van den Beld

Bas's column: SEMMYS: where was Europe?

Last week the Semmys were awarded. In no less than 18 categories winners were picked who wrote this year’s best posts in search engine marketing. Two of the 18 winners were Europeans.

First of all congratulations to all those who won a Semmy. There are some truly great stories in there. All posts were from a high level and the prices well deserved. However one question arises when reading through the entire list: where are the Europeans?

Looking at the list of winners we can only see two European winners. Oddly enough the two winners are both Dutch: Joost de Valk and Wiep Knol. I don’t know if that is a coincidence or not, but it does say something about the Dutch Search Marketing industry: it’s internationalizing and growing.

Joost's winning post

Joost was very happy with his award: "I feel honored, it's always great to have your content rewarded by your peers. I've invested a lot of time into that article, and it's great to see that people appreciate that.". I’m guessing Wiep is also very proud, just as we are on our two European winners. And we should be, winning an award like this is a big honor.

However, when we look at the whole of Europe two out of 18 winners is way too little. Why is that? Are Europeans that lousy writers? I don’t think so. Let’s take a closer look.

First of all there is the language barrier. There are a lot of European blogs about search or related subjects. Most of them though are not in English. Countries like Germany, Holland and Spain are very blog-minded and there are a lot of SEO’s writing about search. But mainly in their own language. And off course those posts don’t make it to the SEMMY’s.

Then again, there are also a lot of bloggers who do write in English. Hell, we even have the entire UK blogging in their native English. Where are the UK-writers? Where’s Dave Naylor or Mike Grehan? Where’s our Danish Dynamite Mikkel deMib? The answer to that is simple: they don’t blog enough and they don’t blog articles which are long enough. Most articles nominated for a SEMMY were extensive articles. Still I believe there are a lot of good, long European posts which should at least be nominated.

A third issue which might influence the reason why so little Europeans were winners is the reach. This is off course very much related to the language issue. In the US it seems that the reach is bigger. You can more easily get more readers. In Europe English is not the native language for most so an English written blog won’t be the first blog one puts in its feedreader if you’re not British. And Americans don’t easily look at the European blogs. They focus on the US blogs first and look outside only when you really step out.

Wiep's winning post

Finally there is the issue of the way the industry works. When having another look at the SEMMY winners and nominees and seeing the list of judges it was all clear. And after chatting with some other (European) SEO’s I’m now sure: this contest is not only about who’s best, it’s also about who you know best. Take a look at the judges. Most of them were also nominees and winners.

It’s not really a surprise. The search industry is an industry which is very much based on friendships. That’s nice because in a way it helps the industry get forward. People tend to help each other and share.

On the other hand if you are not careful it will divide the industry: if you don’t ‘know’ those who matter in the industry you might not get as far as you could. Besides that the industry might be missing out on some pretty good information provided by those who do not attend events or write on a ‘big’ blog or are from outside the US. And I believe there are a lot of very good SEO’s out there who can really contribute to the industry.

To say the least, contest are always disputable. Almost never there is a contest which has the full support of everybody involved. Whether it’s the Oscars, the football-player of the Year or the SEMMY’s, there’s always someone who disagrees.

One could ask yourself if organizing these kind of contest is a smart idea because you know you will get slaughtered by those who missed out on the awards and will be loved by those who won. Still I believe contests like this are very useful. It helps those who want the attention to get the attention and it can help others, the ‘newbie’s’ in the industry to get familiar with the names that go around.

Therefore I believe that the SEMMYs can also be very useful. And as said before, all winners deserve their awards, yet I do think that the SEMMYs would be a lot better if the focus would be more widened. Do not just look at the ‘inner circle’ but look at the entire world of posts.

But maybe we as Europeans should have our own contest? What do you think, should we give it a try and go for a European award or even a worldwide award? Will that work? Or will we only get slaughtered? ;)

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Comments (7)


  • I think th Europe/America divide is only natural. Europe is a very different marketplace, and the SEMMY's are a very American thing. I'm pleasantly surprised even two Europeans won a SEMMY, and very proud that both are Dutch. (Go Joost!)

    Perhaps it would be a good idea to start a European counterpart to the SEMMY's. The SearchCowboys "SEMhats" perhaps. We could give actual cowboyhats as award prizes. :)

    Ma 9 feb 2009, 12:06

  • Interesting post. This paragraph interested me:

    "First of all there is the language barrier. There are a lot of European blogs about search or related subjects. Most of them though are not in English. Countries like Germany, Holland and Spain are very blog-minded and there are a lot of SEO’s writing about search."

    This is probably very true for Germany and Holland but as for Spain I'm a little surprised - do you speak Spanish and/or what do you base that on?

    I've recently moved to Spain and my Spanish will soon be at the level that I can start blogging in Spanish... I will probably write in a few different languages. I don't read much in Spanish online yet but my cursory research has shown that Spain seems to be a bit behind the English-speaking world in SEM. Not to say there aren't a few talented people around, no doubt there are, but I doubt there are a lot of Spanish SEM resources.

    However as said I haven't done a lot of research yet and could be wrong, so if you know more, please go ahead and explain.

    Di 10 feb 2009, 11:28

  • @fletchgqc You are right, Spanish are behind the English-speaking world but they are not stupid :) and they are catching up quick.
    It's a growing market with more and more SEMs who know what they are talking about. They have to because the demand is growing.

    It's for a reason the bigger SEM-companies like Bigmouthmedia are moving towards Spain (read this article: about that).

    And to answer your question: yes I do speak Spanish and read it. And yes, there are good resources in Spain (we are launching our own Spanish channel soon for example ;)). And we have some excellent contacts in Spain.

    DM me on twitter ( and I'll send you a couple of urls :).

    Di 10 feb 2009, 11:52

  • That's 3:

    I admit that I'm not a pommy, and English is not my first language.

    Wo 11 feb 2009, 23:39

  • Hi Sebastian, first of all: congrats! Second: sorry I didn't include you. I was trying to figure out where you came from but couldn't. So where do you come from?

    Do 12 feb 2009, 09:16

  • Currently I'm working at a client's site not far away from the Dutch border.

    Do 12 feb 2009, 15:28

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