2013 was the year the SEO game changed
Last year saw some of the most unprecedented Google algorithm updates in recent memory. Matt Cutts and his web spam team have gone out on a limb to aggressively tackle what they deem to be web spam – link building methods used to manipulate search engine results.
Whatever your stance on this matter is, one thing is for certain. Google makes the rules and that isn’t going to change. So whether or not we like it, we have to play by the rules if we all want to survive. Problem is, none of us really know what those rules exactly are!
Okay, so Matt Cutts will more often than not refer SEOs and website owners to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines however, after detailed inspection, this document mainly refers to on-site practices only and doesn’t go to great lengths to explain the kinds of links you should be building or more importantly, the ones you should avoid.
It has been a major frustration for everyone involved in the SEO industry at just how secretive Google are. The web spam team have promised a greater amount of transparency in recent months however, these have seldom occurred and when they have, have only revealed snippets of information that is still inconclusive and ambiguous. One suspects the big G is playing a game with us all somewhat.
With several algorithm updates over the course of the past 12 months including the dreaded Penguin 2.0, the updated 2.1 version and the major changes to the overall Google search engine code named Hummingbird, it is clear that they are taking any bad SEO very seriously.
If you have cheated your way to the top in the past, you are sure to be caught out very soon if not already. So what does the future hold for webmasters?
Looking at SEO in 2014 and beyond
It is without question that the kinds of SEO practices that can be carried out have narrowed. Some commentators belief that SEO is dead whilst others like us, just feel it has forced some agencies to rethink their approaches and some of the less reputable firms to pack up and go home.
Quality, trust and authority is the key and when it comes to link building, this should be your one and only approach. Past techniques that various low-cost agencies used are frankly going to kill your business. Mass link building is absolutely dead and any site that has suffered from this kind of SEO methodology will struggle to ever recover.
On the flip side however, there are thousands of sites out there that did nothing of the sort and still suffered a drop in ranks and traffic post-Penguin 2.0. In fact, it was a pretty harsh and at times a very unfair algo update that hit honest and hard working businesses when they deserved nothing of the sort.
Bad link building has also arguably created a new dark side to SEO that some refer to as negative SEO. In short, competitors can pay a ‘black hat’ SEO to deliberately swarm your site with masses of spammy link to deliberately kill your rank and with it your business. This potentially nasty side to the industry is a distinct reality after recent Google updates and whilst we are yet to see any real evidence of this work being carried out ourselves, whilst this opportunity exists, it is a concern.
Personally speaking, we feel Google should change their stance on how sites are penalised in the first place to stop this kind of practice from potentially happening as 2014 could see a real spate of nasty attacks from competing businesses who want the top spot. Let’s hope not but in the same breath, watch this space! Getting top spot is harder than ever so unscrupulous businesses will resort to whatever tactics they can get away with, that bring pay dirt.
Have you suffered at the hands of Google?
So the big question is… did your site suffer any drop in ranks or traffic this past year? If you did and in particularly towards the latter half of 2013, then chances are you have either suffered an algorithmic based penalty for having a poor back link profile or worse still; been issued a dreaded manual action by the Google Webmaster team.
Whichever the case may be, all hope is not lost. We’ve seen a few very extreme cases where back link profiles were so bad that we knew the client was in really deep water but in most instances, there is a way out.
The good news is we have had a very high success rate at having manual actions revoked and algorithmic penalties reduced. The bad news is it takes time, patience and thorough analysis of your links.
If your website is in a sticky situation and has seen a major drop in ranks, then speak to us. We can take a look at your back link profile and give you an honest and fair assessment of how much time and work is involved in getting your business back in Google’s good books.
The fact of the matter is that sites that were doing great by taking short cuts, are now suffering the long term damage. But there is hope and you can recover. Talk to our Google Penalty Recovery team for more info.