It’s been an interesting few weeks here at Aqueous; we’ve taken some more new clients on board and have spent a considerable amount of our time knees deep in backlinks trying to sort the good from the bad.
A pattern seems to be emerging in that the majority of the enquiries we get are from website owners who have either seen a drop in traffic or had a penalty applied to their website by Google. In most cases the penalty is algorithmic rather than manual so the remedy is rather harder to come by. What it means is that somewhere along the lines something has been done which Google doesn’t like and as it is built into the algorithm there’s no clear message saying ‘you’ve done this wrong’, it’s up to you to figure out what is wrong and put it right.
And here’s why SEO is now a dirty word. The common thread between all the work we’ve been doing over the past two weeks is that in each case we were looking at work done by other SEO companies and the main it wasn’t pretty.
There were some odd examples where good work had been done but in the majority of cases the SEO’s had succumbed to temptation and bought lots of poor and average links. The problem with this is that these links are all in breach of Google’s Webmaster guidelines and whilst they may have had the intended result at the time, namely a rise in keyword rankings, the upshot is that now they are working like an anchor and pulling the sites down.
We don’t know a single business that deliberately sets out to do a bad job for its customers so why would they do this? Well the answer is simple, Google’s rankings have been manipulated for years and the golden rule has been that to get to the top you just needed more links than the next site. In the past it didn’t matter which links you got, the volume was enough to get a result. Now however it has all changed. Google is tightening up and links which previously worked are slowly poisoning sites.
The problem here is that if an SEO company has done this to a client and a site then you can be sure that it’s left a bitter taste in the mouth. In fact it’s enough to ensure that SEO becomes a dirty word and of course once you give a dog a bad name…..
Someone asked recently how you could tell a good from a bad SEO company and whilst the answers were far ranging the one that struck me was that a good SEO company refuses to promise instant results and insists on working for the long term. This in turn made me recall a company we visited four years ago who were looking to get to the top of the rankings and asked for a professional view. The answer back then was simple; they needed to buy a lot of links. The MD however wasn’t having any of it and held firm to the line that they would continue to do what they do and never buy any links, just build their own.
This weekend we were looking for something online and found one of their links. They were number one organically. We checked a dozen other keywords and they were number one for these as well. In fact the more we looked at it the more core keywords they dominated for. Four years on the MD was proven right but he had played the long game and won. Too many other businesses will have listened to SEO’s and tried the short cuts and now the clean-up operation is underway.
SEO may never recover from this as Google are now enforcing what they have always preached; it’s not about how many links you have, it’s about proper digital marketing. And the SEO companies that know about this are likely to be the ones who survive.