If you wind back a decade or two, you could ‘cheat’ search engines easily. A common example of this would be repeating the same phrase multiple times in a small font at the base of your website. It used to work well, but over the years search engines have upped their game and now it would do more harm than good.
These days a lot of web and SEO agencies do ‘link building’ to boost SEO rankings, which can give good results. But will this do more harm than good?
Well, it depends on the type of links that you have. There are obviously a lot of factors, but keeping it simple, a legitimate link from a reputable source would do well. So, for example, if a local news site links to your website or ATOL links to a travel agency, then that would generally be good. Again, generally speaking, search engines like naturally grown links from relevant websites, and consider this ‘white-hat’ SEO.
If however you pay a company to do link building (which search engines consider ‘black-hat’ SEO as it is against their terms) usually you will get links from less-established and less-relevant websites, and this will easily be spotted by search engines looking at their quality, as well as the speed and quantity in which that they appear.
Okay, you can slowly filter in decent quality links over time, but this does not give the instant results that SEO agencies promise.
So what happens if you break the rules?
Quite simply, Google (and other search engines) can give you a penalty, or even worse blacklist your site from their results altogether.
Here is an example of a website that used to be managed by Webbed Feet, but recently has had another SEO agency do some link building (against our advice) as they promised better (and in our opinion, implausible) results. The graph doesn’t really need any more of an explanation except that it shows their average position in search engines over time.
So, what has this done to their traffic? This time no explanation is required.
I’ll let you establish when the new company’s changes were picked up by Google.
This will be an expensive task to get back on track, and it could literally take months. How would your business cope with a drop to around a 10-15% of its website traffic like this example?
So how do we know it was this?
Well, we had a look at their backlinks; here is a very good example, a site called ‘LinkMarket’. This says it all really. This is the absolute worst way they could have built links. Companies in India will quite literally do this for £15, and it will do more harm than good. Infact people have actually used it to sabotage others.
This is far from an isolated case, we see it all the time, it’s just one that was brought to my attention this morning.
The moral of this story is if you need any search engine optimisation (SEO), get an agency that will do it properly. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and if anyone mentions the term “link building”, ask questions!
We are Webbed Feet, we do SEO well.