Like any industry, SEO has its good and bad days – and it’s most certainly an ever-changing field. However, for those outside of the field, as many business owners are, these changes can seem complicated, unnecessary, and difficult to comprehend. Yet every business owner knows that they should at least consider how their website shows up in Google and what to do if it isn’t a prominent result. Unfortunately, many have hired “SEO Firms” that chose to “game Google” to increase their site’s rankings using techniques that most certainly worked at one time, but are actually being penalized by Google today.
Falling off the Cliff
We have seen the impact of Panda and Penguin on some of our clients who dropped radically in their rankings this summer. These unsuspecting business owners hired firms to assist with their digital presence and now are forced to clean up the messy, if not hazardous, results.
The Good Ol’ Days of Link Building
Until fairly recently, link building was a great way to increase rankings. However, Google is looking at things a lot more carefully these days. In the past, sites were optimized by creating and acquiring links, many of which were irrelevant and would never be considered what is deemed “good marketing.” The thing is, this used to work.
A Smarter Google Requires Smarter Marketers
As Rand Fishkin over at Moz points out regularly, and very eloquently in this recent WhiteBoard Friday: “links need to be relevant, and the good ones take some work. We firmly believe that if we simply go back to the basics of good marketing, you will always win and won’t have to worry about spammy links negatively impacting your website.” In other words, we can’t market for Google; we must market for our customers. By creating unique content and building authentic relationships, we will be rewarded with the relevant links and organic traffic that Google has always valued.
Backpedaling Bad SEO with Disavow
Yet clearly not all digital marketers look at the world in the same way. So what are you to do if you have hired (or maybe are still hiring) an SEO firm, but now find your site paying the Panda and Pengun pipers? Google has just launched a new tool that may help get rid of those nefarious links. Will this be the answer? We’re going have to wait and see. Things aren’t so easy with Google and we suspect that this tool needs to be used carefully and with much discretion. We are researching the opportunities it presents and will be testing it with one of our clients who was hit particularly hard.
Bottom Line: If It’s That Easy, Maybe It Isn’t Worth It
As Rand pointed out in his Death of Link Building talk, we, as marketers, need to work harder and understand the difference between earning and merely acquiring links, or else SEO’s will continue to be associated with poor quality shenanigans. Unfortunately, we think that too many SEO firms will fail to partake in this revolution. So, in short, all we ask is that you don’t call us an SEO firm.
As Owen Wilson says in Meet the Parents, we just don’t want to be “painted with that brush.”