Brand Killed by SEO Link Building

Brand Killed by SEO Link Building

It is always easy to complain about other SEO companies and the tactics they use with client sites, because of that I have never written a post about any other SEO company – this one is no different.

However I want to highlight the issues with your brand and domain name in the new world of Google Penguin.

Domain Name is Now Useless

Domain Name

I was asked to review a site this week, I discovered quickly that the site has been penalised by Google Penguin.  It is not completely correct to call it a penalty as Penguin is now part of Google’s algorithm.   But the site, brand, and domain name are now almost useless due to the link building tactics that have been used to make the site rank higher in Google.

What has happened is that the link building company has built a lot of links to the domain that are from spam sites.  Essentially these are sites that exist only for generating links to other websites.  Too many of these and you will never ranking for anything, too many of the same anchor text will have the same result.

It is not possible to get around this issue either by redirecting 301 the domain to a new domain name – that works for one month or less and then is caught by the algorithm.

The client has two options:

  • Contact all the websites and have them removed the links and then submit a re-consideration request to Google, with no guarantee of getting back into the index – costly.
  • Start again with a new domain name – this client can do this as they own several domains with the same name but different extensions, and they can use a 302 redirect or JavaScript, I have a preference for the latter.

Background to Google Penguin

Google live or die by their search results.  If their search results become polluted by rubbish websites then searchers will go somewhere else, to Bing for example.  Because of this Google is constantly tweaking their algorithm to keep out websites of low quality that they believe should not be in the top search results.  This is standard Google policy and answer to all changes in the search results.

It has always been important that the links to your website look natural, any large deviation from that pattern and you would have encured a penalty – these have been fairly common, but in the past these penalties normally existed for a set period of time.  Now the penalties are built into the algorithm, therefore unless you completely change the issue that caused the penalty you will stay in Google hell.

Google has publicly stated that you might even have to just abandon that domain name and start afresh, which could also mean a new brand.

The Dangers of Cheap SEO and Mass Submissions

Companies want, naturally, the highest return on investment.  This has led to low quality link building become the norm for the past couple of years.  Mass submission stopped being useful about 3 to 4 years ago – but they are still being sold.  Mass submission is when someone takes one article and uses it to submit links to tens or hundreds of websites or submits your website to hundreds of directories at the one time – or even over a period of a few months.  These will cause your website problems.

Pushing on anchor text has worked very well until about 18 months ago, the same time as Google Panda, since then Google has become much more sensitive to anchor text in the links point to your website.

One of the best ways to look at link building is this: are you getting links from sites that no one reads or is ever likely to see – if this is the case you are running the risk of enduring the wrath of Google.

One caveat has to be added here:  a lot of this can depend on where you are in the link building cycle.  If you have a new site or a site with very few links then you will get away with nothing from Google.  However if you have an old site that has 1000’s of links and many are from trusted sources you will get away with a lot more spamy link building that can still work – but the danger is there.  Make sure you understand the risks.

Link Building Going Forward

Google’s idea on link building is this:  if you have great content then the links will come naturally.

However there a few problems with this idea:

  1. People generally don’t link to company websites
  2. No one will see your content until you have links
  3. You don’t rank anywhere without links
  4. Even if you have great content and run great social media campaigns it can take an age to rank

Link building now has to be slower and less aggressive than before.  Aiming for better quality links from trusted sites is more important than before, dialling down on anchor text and using Brand + keywords is a better way of building links.

We are always going to have link building.  But I can say that my costs for link building have risen substantially this year due to the need for increased quality.

I believe that companies need to understand the SEO process better.  Leaving an outside contractor to run your SEO and only judging on short term results can be dangerous.

What do you think?

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Comment (1)

  • Daniel Reply

    Good article, and something I need to look at, you have me worried now but hopefully it’s not too late

    August 18, 2012 at 6:54 pm

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