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Fair or not? SEO company put links from my site to theirs

     
3:18 pm on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I am a medical doctor who specializes in Procedure X. I recently hired "SEO Co." to help me gain visibility for geographically targeted terms such as "Procedure X my city" and "Procedure X my state".

One reason I chose SEO Co. is that they run two authority sites on Procedure X. Authority Site 1 is a PR6 megasite that dominates Procedure X rankings and Authority Site 2 is a PR5 site that is also on page one of Google. As a part of the SEO package, I got a physician profile page on each Authority Site, complete with links to my site.

However...

The other part of the SEO package is on-page optimization for my site. Previously, I did not have any outbound links from my site. But now, SEO Co. has placed links from my site to Authority Site 1 and Authority Site 2, as well as to the SEO Co. corporate site.

So my question is this...

I am under the impression that one way links are great for SEO, but reciprocal links are far less powerful, so is there any reason to believe that the links from my site to SEO Co's sites are doing anything except helping the SEO Co. sites at my expense?
6:13 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Who built the site or did the SEO is a piece of competitive information that nobody should share except in a portfolio for the designer or SEO.


I have to disagree. Why do you believe this is competitive information that nobody should share? This partnership is a mutual agreement between the client and professional and should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

However, no company should ever be adding any link that:

a) could potentially damage the business
b) infringes on the business model or competes in the same genre as said client.

In this case, there is a definite issue in terms of linking out to a company that may be using this approach to build links across a large number of websites.

The simplest way to support their work and remove risk is to add nofollow to all outbound links from your website, or consider removing links altogether and providing a nice testimonial for them.
6:41 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Are there any other authority sites that you could link to?

Its not just who links to you, it is also important who you link to. So yes, its valid to link out from your site to an authority site. But in my opinion, as expressed by others here is, thats its really cheesy for them to have linked to there own site!

Have you paided to enter there authority site? For how long is your profile page going to stay up for? Is it a monthly rental, or a one of payment?

I would really try to find other authority sites to link to, and get the full juice of those links ...
6:56 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Why do you believe this is competitive information that nobody should share?

...

However, no company should ever be adding any link that:

a) could potentially damage the business


You answered your own question.

Why do I want my competitors to know who did my work?

It's a private and confidential business transaction that could be an edge in the market AKA nobody else's business.
6:56 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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One reason I chose SEO Co. is that they run two authority sites on Procedure X. Authority Site 1 is a PR6 megasite that dominates Procedure X rankings and Authority Site 2 is a PR5 site that is also on page one of Google.


So in reality you are linking to three of their sites. Two links to "their" authority sites and then one link to "their" SEO firm. I think I've seen this type of operation before and like I said, run! ;)

As a part of the SEO package, I got a physician profile page on each Authority Site, complete with links to my site.


The more I think about this, the more I'm convinced this is one of those niche link networks, they're a dime a dozen and are typically run by SEO firms who provide your everyday production line SEO stuff. You know, the stuff that doesn't do much for you and you pay a low monthly fee or something like that.

It sure sounds like you've been assimilated by the network. Also, don't rely on traffic numbers alone as a metric of success inside this network. No, you'll need to accurately track referrals and see if there is an ROI associated with them. I've seen some rather shady stuff performed in certain networks that may be similar to this one you're involved with. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that's what you're in but, it does appear that way.

Anytime you have to provide a link to an SEO firm like that is a signal that something may not be what it appears to be. I don't know of many Professionals who would advertise their firms in that manner.

Google even have a specific guideline that mentions this type of practice. ;)
7:22 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This is bad business practice, with a conflict of interest and a lack of consultation to you , the client.

The fact that you feel the need to communicate here, speaks volumes about your SEO relationship.
4:49 pm on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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This smells real bad to me. Having a "seo" drop links on many of your pages to their own website just aint right in my book. This reminds me more of a snake oil salesman than a real seo. You are paying your "seo" hard earned cash to siphon away part of your link juice.

If you weren't linking out to those authority websites your internal links would be getting more link juice. This is basically a reciprocal link that you are paying for.

I bet if you reverse engineer the backlinks for the authority website it will be easy to see they are doing this to their other clients. You should contact their other clients to exchange articles with links embedded within them.

If you are only concerned about a small geographic area then contact the providers from outside your area and swap links. You are both relevant websites and you are not competion since you are serving different geographic areas.

ps are you sure you are getting credit for the links you have bought on their site? i wouldnt be surprised if they were using javascript or something else to prevent the authority website profile page to pass link juice to you.
7:07 am on June 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

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How about asking the SEO Co to nofollow their link back to their site? I'm curious to see how they respond when they discover that you detected something that didn't quite seem right and had the ability to research on your own.
1:09 am on July 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps the first question should be: Are you getting the desired results from the company? Not just traffic; are you getting business?

If your business is increasing because of their work, step back and rethink making a fuss. All of the responses to this have been from "our" side of the industry where we know most of the cheese/hack tricks supposed SEO/SEM consultants use. There are some really good consultants out there, unfortunately they get lumped in with all of the "used car salesman" types.

People get caught up in ranking, links, SEO and SEM efforts when the real focus should be on whether or not the efforts are producing income. A million website visitors a day are useless if they are not generating revenue for you. When I get asked to review proposals I simply ask the business owners a simple question.

Do you want visitors or do you want customers?

So Doc, if the consultant has given your business a boost and you are generating far more new revenue than they cost, sit back and enjoy the ride. However, if all you are getting for your money is a boost in website traffic, it is time to sit down and review that contract.

Oh, before anyone starts up with "that traffic could start bringing in customers" could/might/eventually, those don't pay the bills, they just keep crummy consultants employed.
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