There’s an inside joke in the SEO industry that if you are a practitioner, you should avoid black and white animals like the Penguin and Panda. Here’s the reason why.
In April 2012, the Penguin update was released and thousands of websites who practice black hat SEO (i.e. keyword stuffing, link schemes, and duplicate content) were penalized. But its predecessor was the Panda which was launched on February 2011. The latter was aimed to thin out websites that were “low-quality”; meaning, sites that had too many advertisements.
Now, if you are still unaware of what these algorithm changes are (or more so about search engine optimization), to say it in simplest terms, it is about making your website rank in search engines like Google for a certain keyword about your product or service. I personally tell my friends that I make websites popular.
John, His Site and SEO
Search engine optimization is ideal for small to medium business owners because it less expensive; can specifically target your audience, faster return of investments and tangible results. And since this technique is very attractive for small businesses, there are some who fall prey into the wrong SEO Company. Take for example John.
John opened his catering service in the Philippines a year ago and although he has a steady flow of customers from referrals, he wants to up the ante and be the leading restaurateur in the area. So, one of his friends encouraged him to try SEO and eventually, he set up his own website. Without background in the field, the firm that he contacted assured him of top rankings in two months; which they eventually fulfilled and in no time, John hired more people and business was booming.
To further enhance his rankings, the SEO Company proposed to John to build more backlinks which required some money; but this is not a hard decision for him because the profit was substantial. Then came April, the phone suddenly stopped ringing and customers got fewer every week. This led John to wonder what is happening to his site.
From being on the top page, he is now on number four and although he still has customers from referrals and friends, he barely gets customers from his own website. This situation prompted him to consult another firm and upon looking at his site, this new SEO Company said that he was affected by the Panda update because of the “bad links” that he have.
Can He Still Recover?
One of the indicators that you are hiring a good SEO Company is that they are honest. In John’s case, it will take him months before he can recover so the best option for him is to make an all-new website that is free from bad and unnatural back links. And although he has gained some customers from his old site, he cannot 301redirect it because it will also transfer the Panda issues.
Pointers for Small Businesses
If you are a newly-established business and you are looking into SEO, these are the qualifications that you should look for in a SEO Company:
- Ask for References- It’s like hiring a new employee so as much as possible; ask their other clients how it is to work with them. Look at those sites and see how they are doing; and lastly, look at the kind of links that they have by looking at Open Site Explorer.
- Ask for their link building strategy- Even from the beginning, they should be able to present to you their link building strategies. Onsite optimization should be considered as well as other link building techniques such as guest posting and social media.
- Ask them how they will create the content- Google place high priority to original content so ask them how they will make onsite and offsite articles that will be beneficial to your audience. Content should be original and useful.
The world of SEO is changing and it is only a matter of time how SEO companies will adapt to changes so as early as today, small businesses should engage in an evolving firm.