Guest blog by Ben Acheson, Head of SEO at Digivate
A terrible search engine bloodbath is on its way. Thousands of websites are going to be affected and your business’ website could be one of them. Over dramatic? Well not if you were listening to Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Webspam at the South By Southwest SEO conference in Texas this year.
The next phase in Cutts’ crusade against spam is a major change to Google’s software. This change will automate the detection and penalisation of offending websites and is expected to be rolled out towards the middle of 2012. Cutts announced the search engine’s plans to, “level the playing ground,” by targeting websites with poor content that rely on “over-optimization” rather than delivering good content.
Google is essentially getting tough on websites that use manipulative practices and these are not just commonplace, they are endemic – particularly among the current crop of aspiring self-styled “SEO agencies”.
Many businesses won’t realise their website is at risk – until their Google traffic dries up. In some cases the damage will be so severe that unravelling it will be practically impossible and a new website domain will be needed in order to escape the Google penalty.
If you don’t understand exactly what your SEO agency has been doing to promote your site then you might need to prepare yourself for a very nasty surprise later this year. If you need customers to find you in Google then the impact could destroy your business.
I see a lot of websites ranking well in search engines because of low-quality, manipulative tactics on the part of unscrupulous SEO agencies that are focussed on the short term opportunity to make some money. These tactics often work but they’re what we call ‘dirty’ and they’re against Google’s terms of service.
Unfortunately, if your agency has achieved good rankings for your website, it’s quite possible that they’ve done so using spam and over-optimisation – especially if those rankings were achieved within just a few weeks or months. If you’re not sure exactly what your SEO agency has been doing, there are ways to spot a bad seo agency and diagnose a spammy SEO campaign.
Examples of bad SEO tactics ripe for penalisation by Google include:
- Having an unnatural or unbalanced link profile
- Excessive highly targeted links
- Keyword stuffing
- Large-scale link exchanges and blog networks
- Blog and forum spam
- Understand your audience
- Tailor your content to them
- Make sure they know about it.
If you are concerned about your website’s exposure to bad SEO and would like some free advice, call me on 0207 845 9951. I’ll be able to take a look at your SEO profile and tell you if you’re at risk within two minutes.