“You guys have a great portfolio. Why haven’t you won any awards?”

This is a question we were again asked recently, and now looks like as good a time as any to put our thoughts on this subject out there.

First, awards are usually perceived to be about credibility, and showing people what you can do. The simple fact is that all the big name awards – Drum, UK Search Awards, RAR etc – are moneymaking enterprises first and foremost. There’s entrance fees, then extra fees – that are not normally publicised – to attend the event.

These are usually charged per person, and can be pretty hefty too. Often there’s other costs as well – once, one agency we worked with was charged hundreds of pounds for an extra trophy that they wanted to send to their client. In some cases, judges are even required to pay for the privilege. Administration fees are perfectly acceptable, of course, but this is way beyond what is reasonable.

Now, this isn’t just a moan about the price. The problem here is credibility. As I’ve already written about in some detail, the SEO industry has something of an issue with this subject. The old stereotypes about black hat operators, spammers and other internet cowboys won’t go away.

These awards are doing little to dispel this. The literature and branding give off the air of a highly competitive pool of entrants. In fact, sometimes only a handful of agencies have applied. In terms of winning, this can be great –  put in a decent submission and the odds are stacked in your favour. For potential clients though, this tells you absolutely nothing about the quality of work you can expect – especially if the judge has paid to be there in the first place.

It’s not hard to see why they are popular though. Lots of people enjoy the night out and the ceremony, both clients and agencies. They can undoubtedly be fun, and the networking is great. Despite this, we’ve made the conscious decision not to put ourselves forward under the Blink name. We’ve still won a number of awards as white label suppliers for other agencies, but in terms of promoting ourselves directly, it’s not a strategy we feel comfortable with.