Lee Odden

Reader Poll: Best SEM Email Discussion Lists

reader poll

Threaded email discussion lists are a bit old school communications in contrast to the rise in popularity of blogs and RSS. However, there are several of these channels that serve as a sort of digital watering hole for some of the most experienced search marketers who dispel invaluable insights.

For large segments of the internet community, email remains a preferred discussion tool. The platforms most often used for such lists these days seem to be Google Groups and Yahoo Groups.

One of the best known and now out of commission lists was the I-Search Discussion List, which I’ve written about before. In fact, there are remnants of the I-Search list in at least three of the discussion lists in this week’s poll, which hopes to both find out what lists OMB readers prefer as well as draw attention to some great sources of search marketing information.

Which is the most useful online marketing discussion list?

  • LED Digest (83%, 54 Votes)
  • Google's Discussion Group For Webmasters (6%, 4 Votes)
  • Search Return (5%, 3 Votes)
  • Some blackhat thread we don't know about (5%, 3 Votes)
  • SEM 2.0 (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Online Advertising Digest (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 65

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As always, the list above only includes the lists I am aware of and use, so be sure to mention your favorite SEM/PPC discussion list in the comments if not mentioned here.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Adam Thompson says

    LED Digest! It’s great.

  2. Avatar Jeffrey Clausen says

    too much good info. to list! A must join for all!

  3. Avatar Adam Audette says

    Lee, you’re one of the few I know who actively promote discussion lists. You’re right – they’re very old school. Speaking for my own list, it’s slower than Web 2 (takes a whole day to get responses), heavily moderated, plain-text-basic, but it’s also valuable because of that. I kind of think it’s a ‘time capsule’ in a sense, with so many old-schoolers subscribed. Then every now and then we get graced with a post from you, or Eric Ward, or Bruce or some other big name in the industry.

    The real power of lists like the LED is in uniting diverse audiences – small business, edu’s, industry leaders, mom & pops, and agencies, firms and consultants.

    Wonder if there’s interest to start up I-Search again? The buyer of Adventive would probably be all for it, he’s a supportive guy. What do you think?

  4. I like online advertising digest the best. The others are very strong too.

  5. Avatar Chris Hermann says

    The LED Digest has and will always be a reputable resource. It’s hard to vote against it! LED DIGEST FOR SURE!!

  6. My vote goes to LED Digest. I like the wide variety of topics covered and the depth of knowledge displayed. I’ve been subscribed so long that I feel I know many of the marketers involved. The moderating is superb, tough but fair.

  7. LED Digest by a country mile. Great community. Lively discussion. It might be old school, but it’s the only email I read daily without fail.

  8. Avatar Nick Stokers says

    I’ve been religiously reading the LED Digest every day for ten years. The best thing about the LED is that it’s fair and balanced.

  9. LED DIGEST, hands down. There is no comparison. And, it’s even going to get better. Why? Because the LED DIGEST is comprised of real-life web masters sharing real-life experiences. Extremely valuable information without the
    “fake sell jibberish”.


  10. One thing this poll proves is that subscribers of SEM 2.0 certainly don’t read this blog. LED Digest readers, WOW!

  11. Avatar Adam Audette says

    I’ve been thinking about this, and another thing this poll reveals is the general lack of interest in email lists. They’re definitely not in fashion, partly due to reasons I already stated above. Not only that, but they’re also nearly extinct.

    Of the options in the poll, Google’s webmaster forums can be received in list format, but are better suited to the Web (great method, I like what they’ve done, even if they get knocked for bad usability). They’re more of a newsgroup than an email list. Some blackhat thread is non-descript, SearchReturn is a newsletter with an occasional reply post, SEM is on Google’s newsgroup, and Online Ads is nearly dead. The only real discussion list in this poll is the LED.

    Where have all the email lists gone? It’s a dying format.

  12. I hate being up a creek without a paddle. LED may be just as old schooled as that saying but it’s exactly where I would be without LED. The solutions, information and discussions are invaluable. The group has helped me solve problems and kept me ahead of potential problems. For someone as computer challenged as I am, LED is a life saver when that creek gets to flooding over the banks. The only time I miss reading LED is when I’m on the road traveling with my company. Mary Findley, owner, Mary Moppins

  13. Avatar Andrew Goodman says

    Lee, well, we eventually get to it 🙂

    I think one of the strangest parts of trying to resurrect an i-search-like community at Google Groups (SEM 2.0) was people’s odd view of the format/platform. I wanted something that would require less moderator “grunt work,” and also felt that email was dying. Google Groups is a flexible format — like Yahoo Groups — read online, or on the web. Up to you. Many on there seem to *want* email. That surprises me.

    SEM 2.0 is low traffic, I think, because of fragmentation. I never wanted to pour tons of energies into pushing people to post – there is enough of that going on elsewhere. But like any community it needs some active prompting, a role I guess I stepped down from when I-Search died. I had been hoping to find a successor to lead SEM 2.0 (the offer is still open but a committee might work).

    All in all if good stuff is happening in other places, then I am not about to promote the heck out of a not-for-profit low-traffic group, that seems to please some people. Since some like it, I suppose it will keep going. It beats having to unsubscribe from stuff that is just too high traffic or annoying. 🙂