It’s ridiculous how much time can drift by before you realise that you haven’t posted anything to your blog for two – no, three years. Well, time has moved on and so has my involvement with SEO and website promotion. What used to be more of a hobby – an additional bit of experimentation to offer clients who came to us with their website projects has well and truly morphed into an essential element of our website development offering.
Gone are the days of saying ‘we’ll do basic on-page optimization as a matter of course’. Now it’s pretty much expected that the website is going to rank highly for the client’s chosen keyword or key phrase. Nothing like a little motivation to get you cracking.
For quite a while we worked in conjunction with a local SEO firm to develop the online presence of The Contract Chair Company, a hotel and restaurant furniture client of ours. With the development of a new sister site, COCCO Home Furniture which sells contemporary furniture for the home online, so our involvement was ramped up – but with as much of a focus on content creation and development as traditional link building and social media activity.
Google has changed their algorithm so often and unpredictably that it has scared a lot of people into doing very little. The distinct message from Google is that if you set out to manipulate your Google rankings, you can expect to be penalised for it. What were once perfectly acceptable websites to get a link from suddenly became toxic. Suddenly, websites that ‘owned’ a niche found themselves precisely nowhere – and sometimes slapped with a penalty,
One of our clients had the misfortune of trusting a less-than-reputable SEO company with their link building and ended up getting slapped so hard by Google (with literally thousands of un-deletable toxic inbound links) that there’s a chance they’ll never recover. Even with the relatively recent introduction of the Google Disavow Tool which gives us all a little hope that there may be a way back, it is definitely marketed as a tool of absolute last resort – and there are some more cynical folks who believe that it’s just a way for Google to identify sources of bad-practice SEO activity.
There’s always the graffiti analogy that I like to use to expand on this: An advert was put in the paper inviting local graffiti artists to meet up to demonstrate their artwork. Lots of people arrived and they were all encouraged to sketch their tags to demonstrate their style. In doing this they confirmed their identity and the source of all the graffiti in the neighbourhood. They were arrested and charged.
Anyway, enough doom and gloom. If nothing else, it actually encourages me that it’s not all about link building anymore – it’s more about link earning. This suits me better – I despair of all the unsolicited e-mails and worthless, spammy blog comments sent my way that demand links from my websites. The links that I add are almost always to site content that I either like or find very useful. Why would I want to carpet bomb people with the same trash that I despise? OK – it’s going to be harder work, but the results will be enduring and worthwhile.
Postscript: Literally as I have been writing this post I’ve come across a new article on Linkedin that signals the rolling out of yet another Google Panda Update. (See how that article just got a natural link from me? All the author had to do was write an article that I actually wanted to read…)