Home Forums Tech talk The current state of the SEO industry and how you can avoid getting burnt

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  • #1172107
    John Romaine
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,104
    JamesNorquay, post: 200763 wrote:
    Agree, so many industries will get hit by the next Penguin refresh in coming days or weeks. If your link profile has above 2% Exact Anchor targeting you can probably expect to worry.

    James that percentage depends entirely upon the overall size of the link profile.

    If a link profile consists of a total of 10 links, and 2 of them include exact match anchors, then that’s 20%.

    That’s completely natural and is well above 2%.

    On the other hand, 20% of say, 10,000 links is probably NOT going to be natural.

    #1172108
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642
    pauls, post: 200737 wrote:
    Phew, what a long read that was.

    Just goes to show SEO is very alive and an extremely broad topic.

    John, I know you like to use your railway sleepers site as an example. This backs your point that some industries can get away with thin content and hardly need links as they are very niche and competition is extremely low, however step into more competitive industries and back-links along with hardworking content becomes extremely important.
    Hi PaulS,
    I keep using that one because:

    • We are talking to small business owners about small websites.
    • The owner gave me permission to use it as an SEO reference

    I have many others I’ve assessed, helped, etc. but without site owner’s permission, I can’t disclose their names.

    Let me repeat that external links ARE IMPORTANT for SE referrals in SOME circumstances.

    The issue that is not getting traction here are my statements that…

    IMHO, external link building programs are NOT COST-EFFECTIVE solutions for MOST Australian small business websites.

    Is this too controversial? Perhaps people think I’m exaggerating the SE traffic volumes that do NOT require external link building programs.

    Then let me offer another example…

    This one is a 300 page site selling products to Australians.

    It has one (low value) link building tactic in place but has never employed any other.

    Over the last 2 months that one link tactic generated links from 5 external pages that Google recognised. Over the same time, various bots have scraped the site and created links to it on 250 other pages. There is no evidence that these 125 new external links per month have had any impact on the site’s traffic over the last 2 years. (Nor would I expect them to.)

    In total, Google currently recognises 2,050 external links to the site. Almost all will be the low value garbage links automatically generated by these directory bots and shopping bots.

    Now for its Analytics search numbers.

    # SE Referrals
    Feb 2013 = 3,650
    Last 2 years = 153,250

    # Unique Keywords
    Feb 2013 = 1,934
    Last 2 years = 24,000+

    (Note: I report Feb 2013 numbers because Google has been hiding all its unique keyword info for over half of the last 2 years.)

    If I extract the Google “not provided” numbers from the equation and use 100 visitors for any unique keyword as the cut-off point over the last 2 years as indicative of where a phrase may have been

    1. reported by Google’s Keyword Tool/Planner and
    2. which did not require any external links

    the site would still have received 89% of its SE traffic.

    I’m suggesting that way over 70% of this site’s traffic has nothing to do with any external link!

    As a rough cross-check…

    This client has another site selling the same products but with different product descriptions. That site had no SEO in its implementation and it generates around the same SE referral numbers with around $2,000 per month of Adwords expenditure. It’s in roughly $1 per click search market. I suggest that would be indicative of a pretty average competition level for most small business websites.

    My advice to small business owners…

    • The key to cost-effective SE referrals for small business is not to be found in expensive link building programs it is to be found in your site’s design, structure and content, or lack of it.
    • Avoid any SEO proposal whose focus is on link building for the sake of search engine referrals. Most will generate a poor return on your money, IMHO.
    • You must explore your search market, your business needs and BEST ROI. Some small businesses’ sites may need link building to attract relevant referrals but most of you will NOT.
    • When it does, as Aidan says, let any link anchor text take care of itself.
    • Forget chasing exact keyword search phrases. It is individual words that are important. Consider MD Cleans’ online competition woes, above. It is the use of local suburb names in searches that is giving him grief. (He won’t find those phrases reported in any keyword planning tool and if he does, the numbers will be wrong.)

    IMHO, these recommendations have been true for the last 20 years:

    • Before there was a Google and,
    • Before Google started hiding the evidence.
    • It’s true for 5 page websites and 20,000 page websites.

    Time and again I’ve seen website ignore these recommendations in site rebuilds. Virtually all of their external links were still in place but they lost 50%-60% of their generic SE referrals in months.
    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1172109
    pauls
    Member
    • Total posts: 120

    Hey John, may I make a small suggestion :-)

    Your posts are way too long – I’m sure you can summarise many areas and get more engagement and education for SME’s who are time poor.

    No doubt, like you, there are many of us on FS that have also been in the digital space for a long time.

    Take care,

    #1172110
    John Romaine
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,104

    John, I’m curious…if backlinks aren’t an important part of your SEO strategy, what is?

    #1172111
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642
    John Romaine, post: 200776 wrote:
    John, I’m curious…if backlinks aren’t an important part of your SEO strategy, what is?
    Hi JohnR,
    Please read me carefully…

    The SEO tactics I employ are titrated as best I can to the client’s situation to ensure they receive the most RELEVANT SE referrals I can obtain for them for the resources (their money) available.

    That does NOT mean I’m saying backlinks are an unimportant part of G’s ranking algorithm. The strategies/tactics needed for big business/competitive search markets are invariable different to most small business’ needs.

    This is a forum for small business owners so you need to read my comments as directed to their needs!

    When you analyse a client’s site and its search market, there are always many things you can identify that should improve their relevant SE referrals.

    Best Small Business SEO Strategy

    My small business client-oriented strategy is to identify the least expensive SEO problems and tackle them first or to show the small business client what they could do with DIY-SEO themselves.

    What does this strategy achieve?

    It depends on the site problems and search market. I’ve seen up to 30-fold increases in relevant search traffic without a single external link being built.

    I’ve seen small businesses who generated more business than they can manage with this strategic approach.

    I’ve had clients ask me how they can stop / reduce enquiries from their site…

    What has really peeved me through out this entire thread is the lack of focus on the small business owner and his/her needs.

    As far as I’m concerned all these posts about how SEO MUST cost more than $299 per month is garbage . Sometimes it may but for many small business sites it seem to be generated by businesses that either:

    • don’t understand all the SEO tactics available to small business
    • don’t understand the needs of small business websites
    • which ends up with severe limitations in how to implement COST-EFFECTIVE SEO or who are
    • targeting the needs of a different market.

    If using external services for effective link building is essential to you, then I would be the first to agree! However, in my 20 years of small business SEO, link building does not to feature often in the needs of most small business websites.

    IMHO, a lack of focus on the small business client’s needs is one of the best “tells” of how to avoid being burnt by SEOs.

    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1172112
    pauls
    Member
    • Total posts: 120
    JohnW, post: 200785 wrote:
    Hi JohnR,
    IMHO, a lack of focus on the small business client’s needs is one of the best “tells” of how to avoid being burnt by SEOs.
    Regs,
    JohnW

    Its great that we are all passionate in our specific fields, however I’m sure the word small doesn’t mean the same to everyone.

    To clarify, a good number of FS businesses are not small, they are micro. In many cases I have seen the Australian Government classify small business as 1 million plus revenue.

    Here are a few categories

    • non-employing businesses – sole proprietorships and partnerships without employees;
    • micro businesses – businesses employing less than 5 people, including non-employing businesses;
    • other small businesses – businesses employing 5 or more people, but less than 20 people;

    WIth that said, once you have exhausted;

    • citations and local listing/ free and credible link opportunities
    • on-page structure, meta and content fixes
    • UI and conversion tweaks

    Next in the list is social and link building?
    If the business doesn’t need it, then great, but to say that they dont need links because of size or any other metric is how the whole SEO is dead came about.

    Anyway I might check out for a while as these FS posts are getting out of control of late…

    #1172113
    John Romaine
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,104
    pauls, post: 200786 wrote:
    Anyway I might check out for a while as these FS posts are getting out of control of late…

    Same.

    #1172115
    Byron Trzeciak
    Member
    • Total posts: 422
    pauls, post: 200786 wrote:
    Its great that we are all passionate in our specific fields, however I’m sure the word small doesn’t mean the same to everyone.

    To clarify, a good number of FS businesses are not small, they are micro. In many cases I have seen the Australian Government classify small business as 1 million plus revenue.

    I completely agree with you Paul and I think the definition of small business might vary significantly amongst each of us as does the process and services we offer for SEO and our client’s.

    The SEO process can be broken up significantly to offer different strategies to different clients. You might have:
    – SEO audits – Low budget, DIYers or as part of the first steps of an on-going engagement
    – Onsite Optimisation – Fixed cost / on-going
    – Content Marketing – Fixed cost / Mentoring / On-going
    – Link building – On-going / fixed hours

    Each of us may have a different method for the way we present our services to our target client’s. It doesn’t make sense to exclude one of those parts, i.e. links, simply because a business is termed as a “small business”. However time is money so the more time a client needs the more money it will likely cost.

    Both client and agency need to be a good fit in that
    a) service costs don’t outweigh the revenue of the client
    b) the service charge doesn’t outweigh the expenses of business and living.

    This is just common sense.

    #1172116
    Snakeman
    Participant
    • Total posts: 329

    Dear all, thanks for the conversations.
    As a semi outsider I found pretty much all the posts very informative.
    What the thread has shown is that SEO done properly is not a simple thing a pleb can learn in five mins, which is exactly why many people pay SEO firms to do this for them.
    In the end it should be treated as a cost/benefit equation.
    If the benefit outweighs the cost, it is clearly worthwhile.
    All the best

    #1172117
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642
    pauls, post: 200786 wrote:
    To clarify, a good number of FS businesses are not small, they are micro…

    …WIth that said, once you have exhausted;

    • citations and local listing/ free and credible link opportunities
    • on-page structure, meta and content fixes
    • UI and conversion tweaks

    Next in the list is social and link building?

    If the business doesn’t need it, then great, but to say that they dont need links because of size or any other metric is how the whole SEO is dead came about.
    Hi PaulS,
    Based on the requests for reviews and the signature links on FS, I’d agree that most of the folk around here are “micro” businesses.

    I can’t think of the last time I checked out one of their sites where its primary SEO problems weren’t based on:

    1. Lack of / poor SEO strategy
    2. Technical
    3. Content related
    4. Lack of monitoring

    “Strategy” to most seems to be to target “frequently used keywords”. WRONG!

    “Technical” should be a one-time fix plus education of the client to avoid future problems.

    “Content” is never complete. It only becomes, “What else can be done to attract people with different needs?”

    “Monitoring” is usually not undertaken or gets forgotten once the enquiries start.

    The “SEO is dead” call has been rampant after every Google attack on the many different link building schemes over the last 10+ years. (Feb 2004: Is Organic SEO Dead?)

    IMHO, “SEO is dead” calls only eminate from people who don’t know what SEO is or how to implement it. (I know you are not saying this.)

    FS Business owners,

    Be aware that your online marketing cost will be driven by the strength and resources of your online competition.

    The first actions of any SEO consultant should be to develop strategic recommendations so that your business can make maximum use of its strengths while minimising its exposure to the strengths of its online competition.

    Example: If you are a shopping cart site with a poor online marketing strategy, you could end up in a link building war against Amazon with its 2.1 BILLION external links.

    Effective external link building is the most expensive SEO tactic because it is so time consuming.

    If you’re a micro/small business and you head in this direction, you are likely competing where your competitors have much larger resources to negate your use of this tactic.

    There are always differences on the web. A simple and inexpensive to exploit advantage over the biggest competitor may be your location. You may not need a single external link to exploit that marketing attribute.

    Internet marketing & SEO should start with research into your online competition to identify these sorts of attributes.
    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1172118
    Aidan
    Member
    • Total posts: 1,125

    Wise words JohnW,

    so many people just don’t get it but it is not You v Google…
    … it is You v Your Competition.

    #1172119
    pauls
    Member
    • Total posts: 120

    Aiden, I think in many cases online its you vs you :-)

    John W, I cant disagree with that.

    Its a big reason why we built our audit system as a large number of both large and small AU businesses – even web agencies get the onsite basics wrong.

    Yes, as you will likely say, professional assistance and/or review will never be replaced by automation/software, but software doesn’t skew its reports or results and is a great starting point to figuring out how well your website is setup in Google’s eyes.

    #1172120
    JohnW
    Member
    • Total posts: 2,642
    pauls, post: 200938 wrote:
    Aiden, I think in many cases online its you vs you :-)

    John W, I cant disagree with that.
    Hi PaulS,
    Tragically, I think I already disagreed with you in my previous post. :)

    Most of my experience suggests the reality is it’s “you vs no one”.

    Unfortunately, I find it rare for micro/small businesses to regularly review any important online marketing metrics.

    PS Thanks for your support, Aidan.
    Regs,
    JohnW

    #1172121
    Gizmo
    Member
    • Total posts: 731

    I’m not sure if this has been said, but to answer the question of how to avoid bad SEO companies…

    If the person selling you the SEO services is emailing you from a non specif email domain, e.g. 123thebestseo@gmail.com
    Then avoiding them would be prudent.
    I’ve seen sooooooooo many emails like that for SEO and telemarketing its sad!

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