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What SEO advice do you offer clients this week?

 9:09 pm on Apr 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Given the latest round of updates from Google its now a bit of a joke trying to look an SEO client in the eye and tell then you know what is going on and what needs to be done. We only handle a few SEO clients but at this point I'm thinking its almost "game over" for the SEO business. I've only had one client badly badly impacted but there are plenty of markets that we monitor and every single one has been blended to some degree.


Robert Charlton

 8:26 pm on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

I tell them that in the long term, sites are going to have to be really, really good to do well on Google. Since that's what I've felt from the start, I don't think it's game over at all.

If anything, the focus on site quality is helping me win some arguments with clients who've come into SEO thinking that it's all about tricks. I've always pushed for sites that are better in every way... easy to use, clear to navigate, technically tight, well-designed, and with compelling content... content that's good enough that it's worth bookmarking. Now, all that is officially part of the equation. IMO, that's great.

The hard part is that now it's also "officially" more work, requiring more originality, time, money, and dedication. That's not always an easy sell, but it may separate the kinds of clients I like to work with from those that I don't.


 8:43 pm on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Game over for seo businesses? I am seeing the complete opposite. I am turning down jobs left and right. Game over for seo companies that sell article/directory and other cheap methods.

This is great for legit SEO firms who focus on quality and not a bunch of cheap backlinks like 99% of the so called seo companies out there.

I have always felt my methods were ahead of their time. I always hired quality content producers and always focused on quality over quantity. I never chased the bulk link packages and always chased after that quality relevant link. I made sure that when I asked a site to consider writing about a site of mine, that when they saw it, they would WANT to write about it. This is way better than any paid link. Pay for the great content and get the free links as your reward. Thats how paid links is really done.


 9:05 pm on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

What Robert and Brinked said :)


 10:03 pm on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

The advice above is sound and I don't have a problem with it. Our concern is the number of reports I'm reading about sites being hit with ranking drops that have had little or no SEO work done. Its fine to tell a client to build a better website and focus on quality links only but I think its now established that little equation does not always add up to good rankings. Its not difficult to find examples of "junk" in the results either, throw the rise of the negative SEO campaigns and what now exists is a recipe for some very nasty phone calls. Judging by the increased number of "We are a large SEO firm based in" emails I'm seeing over the last few weeks my bet is that plenty of people are killing their SEO arrangements. I wonder how long it will before these emails start pushing the new and obvious flaw in the alog...


 10:06 pm on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

This is great for legit SEO firms...

so, what are some of the things that "legit" companies do for SEO?

I ask this not out of disrespect, but I have often heard people in the past say things like, "We only had 'legit' links to our site... from article directories and guest blogging and blog comments and some paid directories - but we NEVER hacked anybody's site for links."

So if you don't mind, it would be great if everyone could share their opinion of what the state of "legit" is.

Thanks in advance.


 10:43 pm on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

Legit this week might not be legit next week. SEO's crowing about how their methods are whiter than white and "quality quality quality" might very well be posting their own sad stories in this forum a week or a month from now.


 11:15 pm on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

So if you don't mind, it would be great if everyone could share their opinion of what the state of "legit" is.

A legit seo, never met one . The whole point of seo is to give a false boost to the site their working on. In this update I see a lot of forum link based sites doing well is forum spam now legit?


 11:21 pm on Apr 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

I usually am called in before the SEO part; I tell them if their business model isn't right, nothing else will work. That's the same thing I told them before, actually.

You have to do something ELSE and you have to do it BETTER. That's where the quality starts. I've been asked to help with (what I consider to be) poor business models, and I won't take em.


 3:29 am on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

so, what are some of the things that "legit" companies do for SEO?


When my son was born I was looking for someone to take over my day to day tasks since I had little time to devote to my websites SEO as the day to day business activities took all of my time combined with having a newborn.

I hired a very well known top ranked SEO firm. I hired them on a two month trial basis in the 6 figure range ($120k to be exact). One month went by with 0 work done, they coughed it up to "research". I then found them posting WTB links threads on a popular webmaster marketplace. I was furious. They were giving me "advice" and I had to hold back from calling them up and cursing them out about how much they know about SEO.

So you have a good question, what is a legit seo firm? I really wouldn't trust any firm after my experience. After that I hired someone, gave him a salary and taught him everything I know. This way I know the job gets done the right way.

Well known SEO firms reach out to me (some find me on here from the threads I post) when they get stuck.

The SEO world is full with a lot of companies preying on unsuspecting clients who are sold on sitemaps, directory links and article submissions. They have a good sales pitch but that does not mean they know what they are doing.

I take great pride in what I do. I didn't learn what I know from some book. I learned the hard way through years of trial and error.

To get back to your question. A "legit" company will first and foremost focus on your sites content. They will pinpoint where your content lacks and where it can be improved. Unique content is no longer the key, anything can be spun to look unique, today there are many factors that make content "great" in the eyes of google. This means use of video, images, graphs and other features that are not offered on the competition.


 5:00 am on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

What Robert and Brinked said :)



 5:22 am on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

What Kidder said.
C'mon guys. it's good to pretend to have all the answers but quality is in the eye of the beholder and when that beholder is google then she must be a lady who is allowed to change her mind.. alot.
if you were the seo for a site that dominates it's field and is a household brand name and yet not found on the first 2 pages for it's main keyword,
what do you do?


 5:53 am on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

@cabbie IMO if you are doing SEO of household brand name (big brand) than Google (organic) might only be contributing 20-25% of the overall traffic of which 10-15% would be from brand terms.
I know it is an impact of 10-12% but you can cover that up easily by focusing on Social media channels and not thinking or working directly on SEO. Try and engage users on social channels and slowly you will see that your Google ranking will also appear due to your focus on end users which is the main aim of Google.


 1:29 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ brinked:

A "legit" company will first and foremost focus on your sites content. They will pinpoint where your content lacks and where it can be improved.

I hope you don't mind if I ask you to expand a bit on that thought.

I am curious since I have heard of people in the past refer to a "content void" or "content shortage." I take that to mean that they looked and said, "Hey, nothing on this topic ranks well in google, why don't we have someone crank out an how to article on this."

Essentially, they are looking outward (finding what is NOT ranking well in google), as opposed to looking inward (analyzing current content for inaccuracies and insufficient value to the end user).

So I hope you won't mind clarifying whether you mean an "outward" examination or an "inward" examination of content - or both?

Thanks in advance.


 2:01 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Tell your clients you'll be commenting out all their meta tags.
SEO seems to be a dirty word and a thing of the past, and as a few 'webmaster's with benefits' claim, they never did SEO and the remain extremely successful. Maybe these "insider" WM's are privy to info we don't have available.


 4:02 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I never claimed I don't do SEO, but you and I have very different definitions of it.

(if you're going to refer to me, you can do it by name, you don't have to pick out smart aleck quotes from my bio)


 4:15 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't think I would label netmeg as an "insider." I am all but certain she doesn't work for google (despite being repeatedly labeled as a "google fanboy"). I am also just as certain she isn't privy to ANY info that isn't available to everyone else.

Any info that netmeg gets most certainly was obtained through diligence and intelligence. For example, I was once told by her to "LUGALM" (Learn to Use Google Analytics Like a MOFO) and I would kindly suggest that a great deal of her current success probably comes from following her own advice.

There's a Chinese Proverb: "Instead of crying in the dark, light a candle." Right now, I am looking for my matches...


 5:33 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)


The most common question I receive from clients is "why isn't this page ranking high?"

Most SEO companies you hire will try to throw links at the problem, crappy links at that. And sometimes it will work after acquiring enough links. But the most efficient way sometimes is to just boost the content you want to rank. This accomplishes many things:

1. When people actually visit this page, they will be more likely to actually take it in and appreciate it.

2. They will be more willing to bookmark/share/link to it

3. Google might even see its high quality and decide to rank it higher as well.

4. When contacting people in your industry, they will be more likely to write about it.

I contact other sites ALL the time for links. I never offer to buy, instead I tell them how awesome something I made is. Sometimes they might ask for money for their time and I will compensate them if I feel the exposure is worth it.

I have a client right now, a HUGE global brand that we have all heard of, I did research on them and found a bunch of discussions on them people complaining about their website and suggesting what they want from the company. I pointed this out to the company and they in fact created what these people were asking for, I posted it in the forum thread about how their feedback was heard and this company has listened to them and then that thread received 10 new responses in 1 week as well as created a buzz on twitter etc.

Thats the definition of good SEO. Finding out what people want, what will get people to share your widget/article/website?

I like to do a lot of bragging as well. "Hey look what I made, nobody in my industry has anything like this...maybe you want to write about it?"


 5:39 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

People want traffic. If you make something cool or buzz worthy and put it out there and get traffic from websites and social media, the client wont be too upset if its not ranking high.

Last year I had a panda victim come to me. I was not able to recover them from panda but I recovered a good amount of their sales (90% from before panda)by improving their ecommerce site, making it look like a more trustworthy company, giving it a nicer and easier to navigare design.

They also recovered from panda a few months ago, which is after my contract ended. So maybe those changes are what caused them to recover from panda, and just took longer than we anticipated.

Its all about getting back to basics. Focus on usability and converting the traffic you already have.

Too many people are afraid to change their site for the better because they are worried that it might effect their rankings for the worst. "I rank #1 in google, I am not going to change anything". But now we are finding that more and more of these webmasters are getting hammered.


 6:08 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thank you very much, brinked. Your info is very helpful.

Would it be delving too much into your bag of tricks to ask HOW you did the research on your client to find out what their customers - and potential customers - wanted from them?

And bonus question: can I ask how such a large company could be unaware of those needs from their customers? Do they not have any feedback forms? or is it more a case of people not telling your client, but more than happy to voice their frustrations elsewhere on the web?

I know that personally our contact forms don't seem to get much use. also, in the age of social media, I have seen a couple of people who sent in a request to us via our facebook page instead of responding through our contact forms or replying to the follow up emails that we send out after an order.


 6:55 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)


This company doesnt depend on web, their website is very dated and they really do not depend on web for sales because they have been around for so long and they pretty much have no competition. But their clients expect it, as I pointed out to them by showing them discussions related to them.

In this case they have an iphone app and I saw how horrible it was and reached out to them. I did research on what features would be important to their users. I simply did a google search for their app and then drilled down to the "discussion" filter on google search.

I then recommended the features their users want to the company and they were on board with it.

In regards to your contact forms, its good to have a contact page with not only a form on it, but an actual phone number if one is available as well as a physical mailing address. Make sure its indexed in google as well because a lot of people will google "company name contact" or "company name support phone number"


 7:33 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sorry I left out that I would also be doing their website as well after I brought it to their attention. Their iphone app actually works with their website and has the same features, so that feature the people wanted would also be on the website as well.

Iphone apps are big money and big traffic as well, an iphone app is a great way to generate traffic/links to a site. One of my little secrets.


 9:20 pm on May 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks again!


 2:07 pm on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Focus on usability and converting the traffic you already have.

Too many people are afraid to change their site for the better because they are worried that it might effect their rankings for the worst. "I rank #1 in google, I am not going to change anything".

Excellent advice. A year ago I bit the bullet and performed a complete re-design of my main site after 10 years of no major changes. Everything changed, the look and feel of the site, the backend code and processes, every single URL except the home page.

My biggest worry was my losing my rankings and visitors. However I simply had to improve my site for my users and, more importantly for me, to enable me to run my business efficiently.

A year on and my old members have finally got used to the new look and are not moaning any more. I can process my clients 2 or 3 times quicker than before and my traffic levels have hardly changed at all.

I know it sounds boring and hard work, but the best SEO advice is simply to build the very best site/experience you can for your visitors.

To counter this advice can anyone show me a truely awesome site that doesn't rank ?


 3:40 pm on May 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Too many people are afraid to change their site for the better because they are worried that it might effect their rankings for the worst. "I rank #1 in google, I am not going to change anything".

After seeing a steady decline in traffic over the last couple of years (not Panda related just a general issue with a dated site design and structure) we launched a new design with the aim of improving usability and how fast people can find products on the site - all it did was increase the speed of the decline.


 5:14 am on May 5, 2012 (gmt 0)


A better design/layout does not always mean SEO success. Google's bot doesnt know what a good design even looks like, and even to humans its all about taste.

Usability is not for SE's, but for your users. If they have a good experience they are more likely to recommend your site whcih can help with SEO in the long run.

People are creatures of habit. Webmasters tend to model all their sites a certain way. Even when they try to switch it up, they still have the same elements they always had just with a little polish on it. Google will pretty much see the site the same way.

Sometimes you really need to have someone unbiased go in and be really critical of your site. Its your baby, of course you don't want to admit that it might be less than perfect.

If someone smears feces on your walls and you paint over it to make it look nice, you still have feces on your walls.


 5:32 am on May 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

All things being equal then links have always been the deciding factor, clearly they are trying to move away from this but from what I can see its just not working. I'm seeing a string of sub domains from one classifieds site outrank us for one of our exact match domains (8 year old site and little external SEO) Our website has had extensive print and TV exposure over the years... Its BS and Google know it.

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