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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?
3:21 pm on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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a couple of links should not be hurting you at all. You should check your contract with them and see if you agreed to it. The overall is not that big of an issue.
3:29 pm on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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i think those two outbound links to the authority sites are borderline okay, as long as they are on-topic. but it would be a lot better if they weren't there.

seeing as you've paid them to provide SEO for YOUR site, you should get them to explain how those links benefit YOU. any SEO company worth their salt will know that one-way links are better than reciprical ones. so if you can get them taken off without affecting your profile pages then you should do it.
3:29 pm on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I am not so concerned that I have outbound links, in general. I am concerned that the outbound links are to the same authority sites from which I am receiving links and now there is a reciprocal link instead of one-way. Is that still OK? I would think that two one-way links from the Authority Sites would carry much more weight for my site if my site did not link back?
3:30 pm on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I just came at it from the stand point, that if he is worried about a couple links on a med site, he has bigger problems. Like, can he trust his seo?
3:58 pm on May 26, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I just came at it from the stand point, that if he is worried about a couple links on a med site, he has bigger problems. Like, can he trust his seo?


I do trust the SEO company, overall. However, my market is a comparatively small niche market. Most of the other local doctor's websites that I compete with have very, very few quality inbound links, so that is why I am concerned about that my links from "the 800 lb gorilla" are denigrated.
12:46 am on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I agree with the others. While not ideal, reciprocal links are, practically speaking, unavoidable. In my opinion I would be less concerned with the loss of value received by returning the links and be more concerned with whether the firm has permission to place links on your site and whether their tactics are tying you into some potentially harmful scheme. Adding links without your knowledge raises a red flag though I certainly wouldn't challenge the integrity of the firm-they could be stellar for all we know. Talk with them.
1:09 am on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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doctorQ; You didn't really say how many links to the SEOs site(s) you are talking about.

Are these links only on one page on your site, or are they on every page on your site, or what?
3:52 am on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Are these links only on one page on your site, or are they on every page on your site, or what?


The links are on every page with significant content. From my Procedure Variation 1 page, there is a Procedure Variation 1 anchor text link to the Authority Site's Procedure Variation 1 page. From my Procedure Variation 2 page, there is a Procedure Variation 2 anchor link text link to the Authority Site's Procedure Variation 2 page, and so on.

All in all, I'm kind of wondering how much they are providing a boost for my site vs. their own!
7:49 am on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have top positions on Google (from #1 to #3) and sacked an SEO Co once for placing links on my site to their clients websites. Not exactly the same I guess but the point is networked seo like this can lock you in to the seo network scheme. I work in a very competitive industry but have zero reciprocal links. BTW, I started getting top results when I took seo over myself.
7:53 am on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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A partner site just hired an American SEO. The first thing they did was put a link to their site on the clients homepage. After that, their results have been encouraging but they fell out over something else and have now terminated their arrangement.
8:11 am on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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as well as to the SEO Co. corporate site.


The outbound links to the authority site don't bother me but linking to their own site is just unprofessional and cheesy IMO. If your contract doesn't require those links, I'd remove them ASAP.
3:25 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The outbound links to the authority site don't bother me but linking to their own site is just unprofessional and cheesy IMO. If your contract doesn't require those links, I'd remove them ASAP.


And change your FTP password so they can't just put them back there !
4:34 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Brett_Tabke I'm shocked at your response... I find this to be a HUGE breach or trust and a likely damaging situation.

doctorQ, without even knowing the SEO company I can assure you they are not acting in your best interest. It is NEVER ok for an SEO to add outgoing links to their own sites. They are doing this for their benefit, not yours.

[google.com...] still holds true as an excellent primer to SEO. Following those guidelines coupled with organic methods to attract incoming backlinks is still the best recipe for moving up in the SERPs.
6:14 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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So you are hiring an SEO to enhance THEIR ranking?

If this were me I would get rid straight away.
6:19 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The problem is you are now a part of their link network. So if it goes down your site is going to go down with it.

You might get as good or better results just by hiring a medical writer to write articles for online magazines, authority health site, etc. Then you would have in content, one way back links from authority sites and wouldn't be a part of anyone else's possibly dodgy link network.
6:30 pm on June 7, 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.


Question for the OP:
If you were a person contemplating having "Procedure X" done, which of these sites would be most beneficial to you?

"Authority Site 1", "Authority Site 2", "Your Site"
6:50 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Question for the OP:
If you were a person contemplating having "Procedure X" done, which of these sites would be most beneficial to you?

"Authority Site 1", "Authority Site 2", "Your Site"


A person in my area would find both sites useful. The authority site would be useful for general information, but my site would be more useful in terms of understanding exactly how I would care for the patient and perform the procedure.
7:45 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You don't want those links on your site period. If you can get them removed do it. Google will be able to identify the pattern here, as the SEO Co. is doing it with other sites no doubt.
8:28 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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doctorQ - in my opinion the two links to the authority sites will help your site, it's a link neighborhood you want to be in. It will not help you PASS those two sites since you are conceding THEY are the authority but it will help you vs the others.

The link to their corporate site can go unless you are talking about them as a company.

Your page titles become more important than ever if you link to an authority site with exact match titles. If the authority site's titles are all exact match to keyword terms and Google has ranked them that way you're going to want to make sure your titles are "exact match | site name" or "exact match on site name" etc. Why? Because you aren't claiming to be THE authority on that subject and you won't be recognized as that since they are but YOUR opinion about their subject is plenty valuable to Google. There is a reason you don't see 10 results on page one all with exact match titles. One is authority, the others talk about it and you want to claim a variation of the exact match since you're linking to them.

If you want to take them on and become the authority you'll want to get more sites in your niche to link to you with your target keywords, I suspect SEO co won't want that. An excellent visitor experience will trigger favorable statistics (bounce rates, repeat use, natural linking etc) so you'll need to make sure your content is up to the task of attempting to overtake the authority site(s).
9:14 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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you'll need to make sure your content is up to the task of attempting to overtake the authority site(s).



He is only trying to rank for his procedure plus city and state. It usually isn't hard to beat a generic authority site on your own for local terms because the authority site's back links tend to be less location specific.
9:30 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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He is only trying to rank for his procedure plus city and state. It usually isn't hard to beat a generic authority site on your own for local terms because the authority site's back links tend to be less location specific.


This is correct. I am trying to rank for location specific searches. I don't care about beating the authority. I just want to rank ahead of other practices in my area. The authority site links to my site have good anchor text "my location + procedure". The reason for the post is that I have read for years on WebmasterWorld that reciprocal links are pretty much dead, and I worry that the link from my site to the authority is substantially diminishing the boost from having the authority site link to me.
9:48 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Reciprocal links are dead as a bulk link development tactic because it's very easy for SEs to detect patterns and devalue linkage.

Unless you have generated a number of reciprocal links to other sites or can be connected to a network, this does not imply that the value of a link here or there is or is not diminished because it is reciprocated.

If the links provide value to the user then they should be acceptable. The link to the SEO firm on the other hand...
10:08 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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First, it's your site, so feel free to remove whatever links they put on your site and make your own changes.It is fairly common for website design companies to put a "designed by" link on the bottom of your site. Placing outbound links on your site is also a good practice.However, it does seem quite self-serving what they did in terms of putting links from your site to their authority site. You are right. One way links are a lot better than recip links. I would just remove the links they put to their sites.
10:09 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Maybe not a big problem but you are now part of the link scheme, since I have a feeling he has cross linked many other sites.
10:31 pm on June 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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You don't need to be an "Einstien" to work out who SEO co is ; why they have highly ranking authority sites in this industry if they link back from all their clients or that if their highly interlinked house of cards falls down that your site could suffer as part of the calatetal damage.
1:29 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It is fairly common for website design companies to put a "designed by" link on the bottom of your site.


It's also fairly cheesy and unprofessional unless the website owner tells you to do it, which most don't.

Some website owners don't even know they're allowed to remove that link, or in some cases know HOW to remove that link.

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.

What next?

Links for "programmed by...", "Image path clipping by...", "hosted by...", "PPC by...", "SITEMAP by..." - heck, it'll start to look like the credits for a movie scrolling down the screen.
5:10 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I don't really get why you are not asking them about the link. Your even paying them for services.

If you are that meek, they probably realize this and think they can get away with whatever they want. Or, are you looking for other breaches which they may try to hide if you tip them off that you are suspicious?
5:26 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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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.


Run doctorQ, run!
5:31 am on June 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It is fairly common for website design companies to put a "designed by" link on the bottom of your site.


I did that too, in 1997. Not today.

The links to the authority sites may be okay, but remove any links to the SEO company site. This sounds all a bit cheesy, they SEO'ed your site and put links to three of their own domains. And you got two backlinks from "about your company" pages on their sites. Hmm...
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