The Value and Dangers of Good & Bad SEO

One thing you constantly get a sense of when discussing SEO services and costs with clients and potential clients is the confusion surrounding quality and costs and the level of understanding that surrounds what we do and its value. There are many different ways to hire an SEO specialist to work with and I’m going to write a separate post to offer some guidance on what to watch out for, but something that always sticks out for me is how intrinsic the work of an SEO can be to the success and failure of a website or brand. In many cases when you ask an SEO to work on your website you’re entrusting them with your brand, your website and possibly even your entire business.

Many is the time we’ve seen emails from ‘cheap’ SEO consultants or companies, go on most freelance websites and you can get an SEO ‘expert’ for around £5 an hour and many small businesses find these kind of proposals tempting, which is understandable. What’s harder to understand is how you get some massive brands and businesses which risk everything by having a limited understanding of the industry and its techniques and hire a consultant, company or more often an in-house ‘expert’ that uses lazy, quick and unethical techniques that put that business at risk. The case of JC Penney is now well documented; they took a 90 day penalty when Google rolled out its Panda update early in 2011 for getting busted with a bunch of poor quality paid for links, it took them a massive amount of effort to clean up what had happened.

Having worked extensively in the travel sector I know from experience which brands had a good presence prior to Panda and which have suffered. And just the other day I noticed how many of the companies that used to have a very healthy presence for highly competitive keywords had gone from page one to page ten, could it be such a coincidence that all these fairly major players had fallen to page ten? I’ve included an Alexa graph to illustrate potential changes in traffic.

– Direct Line Holidays
Direct Line holidays were omnipotent in terms of organic search and now have taken massive hits across the board. Many of their best traffic driving keywords have fallen to page five or page ten, losing them thousands of visitors.

– Butlin’s
Poor old Billy Butlin; the Butlin’s site used to have great SERPS for a whole spectrum of high value keywords but now many of them have fallen away massively, with the biggest falling to page ten.

– Holiday Hypermarket
Not as huge a punishment as the two examples above but has clearly lost massive positions on some top keywords, with sudden drops to page five and page ten.

These are just the few that stick out like a sore thumb; I could go through a bunch of industries and statistics and find many more.

With navigation of the web and visitor levels so closely linked to Google there is a huge danger associated with getting a penalty and seeing your website suddenly lose visitors, rankings and authority. Your website’s relationship with Google has become of paramount importance and for any business that wishes to be successful online it’s becoming essential to understand who’s doing what for their business, how their doing it and more importantly they need to be able to trust those concerned to protect their business and brand now and in the future.

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