Web Traffic: Pay Up or Become Mostly Invisible

June 24, 2020

We have been warning our dear readers about a recent uptick in SEO scams, but how bad can it be? Business 2 Community relates a cautionary tale in, “A Small Business SEO Horror Story (and the 7 Qualities to Look for in a Real SEO Professional.)” The post describes the plight of one plumber who surely wishes he had known more about how to choose an SEO firm.

A plumber referred to here as “Joe” began in 2011 with a website that showed up at the bottom of Google’s first results page, and sought to climb higher. He got taken in by an outfit that promised fast results, and handed over responsibility for his online marketing. His rankings, and profits, did improve greatly—at first. Unfortunately, the “expert” he hired was focused entirely on building backlinks, a shady tactic condemned by Google’s Penguin algorithm, released in April 2012. Unaware of the update, Joe just knew he was suddenly getting fewer calls and saw his site was now nowhere to be found in Google’s search results. His SEO service swore it could get him back on track by building even more links, and continued to take his money to do just that. Writer and SEO executive Guy Sheetrit continues:

“A few more months of link building yielded nothing new. Joe’s website still wasn’t in Google’s search results and his so-called ‘experts’ weren’t communicating anything to him. Finally, he reached out to an actual SEO expert to find out what was wrong. Quick checks of Google Analytics and the Google Search Console confirmed that it was a Penguin issue. Worse yet, it wasn’t a manual penalty. It was an algorithmic one. That meant Joe couldn’t even engage in a back-and-forth with Google while he attempted to clean up the bad links. Unfortunately for Joe, the website he’d built back in 2004 was almost worthless to him now. He’d have to start all over again by building a new website. And of course, that also meant investing in new marketing materials, since all the old ones used the old site. And I’m not even mentioning the amount of income his business lost. The rapid growth he’d enjoyed early on disappeared. The new hires and the extra vans had to go as Joe went from prospering to penalized. And all because he fell for the same BS that so many so-called experts spout.”

Stories like Joe’s abound, but Sheetrit goes on to describe what qualities SEO shoppers should look for in a firm to avoid a similar fate: They aren’t desperate for your business; They tell you the truth even if you don’t want to hear it; They have the results (like case studies and testimonials); They don’t claim that you’ll get results overnight (especially noteworthy); they tell you what you need to do (instead of taking over); They know more than just one aspect of SEO; And they use plain English. See the write-up for more details on each of these points. For our part, we keep one major rule in mind—create content that offers value to the user. Any approach that tries to game the algorithm is bound to lose, sooner or later.

If you want traffic, buy online ads.

Cynthia Murrell, June 24, 2020

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