It’s not a trick question… Do you actually know?
I know it may seem strange for me to start writing about SEO. Let’s face it, I’m hardly a renown face within the industry and I don’t intend to be.
There is method to my madness though so stick with me on this one…
A few months ago, we had a very lucky escape with SEO. Luckily for us, I realised in time and decided to look into it a bit more and try to understand what it entailed and how Search Engine Optimisation was done. I read and read and read some more. In fact, I still read on the subject all the time. Not because it’s something we want to roll out to our customers but to ensure that I understand what it entails and to recognise bad advice when I see it.
Although as a business we had a lucky escape, I say “lucky”… it cost us the agency fees, at least our site and ultimately our business was unarmed.
This can’t be said for many other businesses out there! One of our clients was so badly hurt by Google’s first Penguin release that it was cheaper for them to have a new site built than try to undo the mess which had been done on their existing site… Cost of the all exercise? Well imagine going from page 1 of Google’s searches to page 100 overnight…
Or you could just disappear all together from Google’s search for a while… Interflora could tell you what that feels like!
The reason for this post is quite simple, I’m just amazed at the amount of companies who are still giving their business to SEO agencies who haven’t got a clue what they’re doing!
How do I know this? Well this blog tells me all I need to know. Every day, it takes me at least 30 minutes a day to get rid of the spammy comments left on our blog posts.
Here’s a bit of a snippet of the rubbish that gets posted:
Those aren’t too bad, some just consist of a list of links… Luckily, we’ve got a plugin which captures them all and allows me to blacklist the IPs, web pages and email addresses on every comment. Why do I bother? Well, Google can penalise us for User Generated spam… The BBC have had a run in with Google over this and received a penalty.
I often wonder if the companies on who’s behalf those comments are posted actually know what is being posted under their name… If it was me, I wouldn’t be too impressed that our name was associated with something like that.
I also wonder if the link I’m blacklisting goes onto a list somewhere and gets picked up at some point and could end up in a penalty for that site… I’m not sure if it’s the case but it may be worth knowing if spammy comments are done on your behalf, right?
Let’s go back to the original question… Do you know what your SEO agency is up to? Many of you probably don’t… Things have changed a lot in the last year in the world of SEO.
So what has changed so drastically? Well it’s quite simple, Google has now shifted it’s attention to what is reffered to as Black Hat SEO (that’s naughty SEO to you and me) and is trying to put a stop to it. First there was the Panda algorithm then there was the march of the Penguins and lately Penguin 2.0 came to the attack.
In all fairness, what was seen acceptable by Google in the past no longer is so what was the norm in SEO no longer is and this includes link building (this was in a way achieved by blog comments).
How do I know this? Well, Google told us all!
In their Webmaster Help documentation they had a line which read:
“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
But on the 27th May they changed it to:
“In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”
As I mentioned before, I’m no SEO expert but I was told over 9 months ago that Google was now concentrating on rewarding sites with quality content.
If your SEO agency still offers you this type of thing: “In 12 months you will have 36 keywords on the first page of search engines and we will create 200 backlinks a month to your site” (seen today on an SEO agency site – no names given but it’s not short of a scam and they should be stopped!), I would suggest you stop using them and run for the hills as fast as you can!
To finish off, I’ll pass on the best advice I was given last year…
“Forget about Google and concentrate on your audience!”
If you create great content, people will share it and link to it naturally and Google will love you for it! It makes sense right?
You can get a bit more info on SEO and the terminology used in the post I wrote a few month’s back: SEO in Layman’s Terms
P.S. : Feel free to leave a comment but you know where you’ll end up if it’s a spammy one! ;-D