Nothing ticks me off more than seeing someone’s website get penalized by another SEO firm. Not only does it REALLY hurt the business owner, but it’s bad for the SEO industry.
If you find yourself in this situation, I feel terrible for you. You spent good money and ended up with a penalized site because of poor marketing tactics – and now you have to spend money again to try to climb out of the hole I like to call Google HELL. It’s not cheap and it can take a ton of time.
*Google HELL is a term I used for sites that are not ranking anymore due to a penalty from Google. I call it HELL because it’s a place you don’t want to ever be and can be very difficult to escape.
If you are a business owner looking to grow your online presence and hire an SEO firm, please, please, please take 10 minutes right now to read this post. You don’t want to end up with a penalized website, and the only way you can make sure that doesn’t happen is to know what your SEO company is doing for you when it comes to link building.
The reason why I’m talking about the tactics below is because these are SEO “tactics” that were employed by many companies before Google’s Penguin update in April, 2011 and are still employed by many companies today. These ‘tactics’ are all employed to game and manipulate Google’s rankings and not truly earn a good ranking. Because Google does not like to be manipulated, if you see a company using any of these tactics listed below while they describe the link building they will be doing – run away. If you are already paying a firm that is using any of the tactics, then stop paying ASAP.
SEO Tactics to Stay Away From:
- Article Marketing
Article marketing is where someone takes a single article and uses a distribution service to send that article to hundreds of websites. Sounds great, right? You only have to write one article, and get hundreds of links pointing back to your website.
Wrong. Remember, these articles are not coming from the Associated Press. Most of the time they are low quality and are only posted on low quality websites that will take anything. These sites are like tiger sharks that will eat any piece of trash that comes their way and are extremely deadly to your website. Real, quality websites have real editors that quality-control each piece of content that is published and will only accept high quality content..
- Link Wheels / Link Wheeling
Link Wheels are designed to create a ton of low quality links on free sites that do not have editorial gatekeepers. , They use these websites to spam and trick Google into thinking that your website is getting a lot of good links.
How a link wheel works is you create webpages online (most often using free webpage builders and write a piece of content for each page. You then link site A to site B, site B to site C, site C to site D, etc. And you have all those sites (A-Z) link directly to your website. The best way to describe a link wheel is visually (the arrows below represent links pointing to a site):
The problem with link wheels, like most of these other tactics, is that they exist solely to game Google. They are not real marketing – you aren’t creating epic content that people want to read and share. You are creating content solely for Google, and in 2011 Google said very clearly that they will penalize you for this type of link scheme.
- Content Networks / Link Networks
Anytime you hear something like “we have a network”, walk away. These are groups of sites owned by individuals that exist solely for the purpose of building links to manipulate your site’s rankings. The sites are always low quality (even if the owners say otherwise), and even I can spot a link network in less than 2 minutes….and if I can spot them you can bet Google and their massive team of extremely smart PHD’s can.
Link networks used to work like magic. Trust me, I experimented with them on my own websites. They worked. And now they do a great job of getting you penalized once you get caught, and trust me you will get caught.
- Blog Commenting
This one’s a little more tricky, as there are some cases where it makes sense to comment on blogs. The problems arise when you are commenting solely to get a link and not to build a relationship with a blogger or editor. Let me give you two examples so you can see the difference:
Example 1 – Spam blog commenting to get links:
This was posted on a marketing post. Obviously, the ‘comment’ isn’t a real comment but is pure spam for someone trying to rank for the keyword ‘Cialis Canadian Drugs’ online. If you want, I can get you about 10,000 of these ‘links’ in about 5 minutes….oh and I’ll penalize you in the process.
Example 2 – real comment to connect with a blogger:
This is a real comment from a real reader on a post about morning sickness. The reason why most companies won’t do this quality level of blog commenting is that most times it won’t get you a link, and it takes a long time to read through a post, then leave an intelligent comment about it.
Generally speaking, if a company is advertising blog commenting as a link building tactic you should be weary.
- Press Release Marketing
Press release marketing is NOT the same thing as having a PR or good SEO professional write and send out a press release. This kind of PR marketing is really just another form of article marketing in which a company writes a quick “press release” then auto submits it to lower quality press release sites in order to get backlinks.
So how do you tell if this is real PR or fake-and-going-to-penalize-you PR? Ask the company these questions:
1. What’s the purpose of the press release. If the answer is links first, then pass. Press releases are used to get news out, tell about a product launch, etc. Yes, you can get some links, but this is not their primary goal.
2. What does the PR cost? You won’t find a good press release service for less than $200/release.
If the press release is cheap and serves mainly for links, don’t do it.
So What Does This All Mean?
The point of this article is to help you understand what your SEO Firm should NOT be doing. Ask them what they do, and if they mention any of these tactics then you can take that as a sign that they simply don’t do real online marketing
, and they will not help you. In the short run you may see some success, but you will almost be guaranteed to be penalized at some point.
What Do I Do If I’m Currently Using a Firm That Uses These Link Schemes?
The answer to this is simple: stop using them, period. If you are stuck in a contract I personally believe you can get out of it – I’m sure they mentioned the goal was to help your website, not hurt it, and it’s probably in the contract somewhere. If they are using tactics that will hurt your site you should not be held to that contract. However, even if you can’t get out of the contract you would be better off continuing to pay them and have them do nothing. If they continue building low quality links you will only have to pay more to remove them later, but keep in mind that some firms charge more than $20 per link to remove…and some article marketing schemes can get you hundreds of links or more per month.
If you find yourself in this situation, or in a situation where you want to make sure the SEO you are paying for is going to help instead of hurt you, feel free to give Voxxy a call. We can provide a free SEO analysis that will help you know what is going on with your online marketing.