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David Ziguras February 3rd, 2014

The Golden rule with SEO – White Hat practices. If your SEO provider/supplier etc is subscribing to White Hat SEO then you have nothing to fear.

However, if your SEO partner is not performing White Hat SEO, then you have a problem, and many of the problems we have seen in recent months have been as a result of one fatal mistake being made. Poor content, and back linking strategies.

Many companies fall victim to Google as a result of Black Hat SEO being performed by their SEO supplier. Search engine spam techniques like churning out content that is full of keywords but meaningless to a human being, or creating thousands of links from irrelevant and/or low quality websites are a big problem at the moment, and Google is on the lookout for these.

The focus must always been to create unique, engaging content, and focus on quality over quantity when it comes to link building.

We are seeing more and more new clients coming to us with a very similar story – they had great rankings 6-12 months ago, but those have since disappeared, along with their leads. When we look at why this might be the case, we are finding thousands of low quality, irrelevant backlinks that were created by previous SEO partners working with these companies.

In case you’re a newbie to SEO, incoming links, also commonly referred to as backlinks, are a primary part of Google’s method by which it determines how to rank websites. At the simplest level, Google looks at how many links are pointing to a website and the quality of the websites those links are coming from. All other things being equal, a website with a lot of incoming links would rank higher than a competing website without many incoming links. In the past quantity appeared to trump quality, and many SEO firms engaged in the technique of building as many incoming links as possible, regardless of whether those links made any sense. For example, an SEO firm would find a directory of Car Sales companies, and create a listing for their client, a House Painter, on the car sales company directory. What does House Painting have to do with car sales, you ask? Nothing, but Google didn’t seem to care that SEO companies were acting this way.

Then Google changed. First there was the Panda update in early 2011, followed by Penguin a year later in early 2012. Suddenly the quantity of incoming links took a backseat to the quality of those links. Many of the same websites that were gathering up as many incoming links as possible, regardless of quality, were also engaging in the wrong tactics when it came to content creation. What Panda started for these folks, Penguin finished. Bad content you’ve created or links you built from years ago will come back to haunt you.

So, what do you do now? Assuming the damage has become bad enough (And we are seeing no shortage of companies in that boat), removing the bad links becomes a high priority, therefore these new clients must invest in a back link review, and removal of those that don’t meet our criteria.

It’s a positive that the poor results turn around so quickly when the review of backlinks is completed, and those that don’t meet our criteria are removed. However, this is a process that must be performed methodically and 100% properly. It takes time, as whilst there are tools that exist in aiding link review, the process in order to be done absolutely properly should be primarily performed manually by a human, with in depth SEO knowledge.

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