My clients often want to discuss what their former SEO service or company built or offered as a link building “package”. Frequently, these packages comprise badly outdated or risky approaches to bulk link building which may have once been effective but are hazardous today. One recent case involves a client who is the owner of a modest but very successful small niche website which was creating several thousand dollars a month until suddenly a massive penalty hit it. At that point, she essentially dropped to zero income and was considering a few dollars a month as the new norm for the penalized site…
Fortunately this site was hit by Penguin and not a manual penalty which makes the cleanup process easier. Also, luckily the site had a fair number of great niche-relevant links. But these good links were dwarfed by the number of spammy and high risk links littering the profile. In this case, she just needed the standard SEO analysis and link disavow from Rewind SEO. This includes a side-by-side competitor analysis next the site’s top ranking competitors, a comprehensive risk analysis on all links, and finally, sorted safe and risky links with the bad links submitted to Google’s disavow tool.
Fast forward 4 months and I get the great news in an email from her that the site has suddenly seen a near full recovery overnight! Actually it is a similar story with most of my clients. The penalty recovery time differs and many sites need more quality links built first but the causes are all very similar. If it is not negative SEO, algorithm penalties are usually caused by cheap ‘packaged’ link building services. There is an email like that sitting in my spam folder at this moment… Let’s take a look:
We’re providing a SEO service for your site. This will let you enhance your MSN, Yahoo!, and Google search engine positions.
Monthly work and duties:
300 Social Bookmarking Entries
20 Press Release Submissions (2 press release x 10 press release sites)
20 Approved article submissions (2 article x 10 article directory submissions)
50 Manual Blog Comments
15 Mixed PR one way links
200 Directory entries
Rates: 200 USD per month per job at start of each month.
If you are interested, please let us know.
[name and site withheld]
It is not in the least ironic that many of the services offering risky link building packages advertise though unsolicited email spam. This was actually through my site’s contact form which is doubly ironic since these are the services I clean up after. I’ve seen many of the emails and service descriptions for SEO services in the last few years and while Google has changed, it seems these types of services have not. Over the last 8 years or so, some parts of this package could have been successful. However, today almost every component of this service is risky, spam, or only safe in very limited uses. I believe or at least hope most folks understand this when they receive such emails or advertising for cheap outdated SEO services. If not, I’d like to cover these risky link types:
Social Bookmarks: always a weak link type and now considered spammy Penguin food. Also known as “SEO bookmarks”, these links have little or no positive value and high risk. When you see services offering hundreds of bookmarks, it is clear they are posed on sites specifically made for SEO. When done cheaply they’re also all going to have duplicate content. Social bookmarks have essentially been replaced by social signals now (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc…).
Article Directories: a few editorial article sites might not hurt but otherwise, same as social bookmarks. Most article directories do not even edit the articles which makes them ‘link repositories’ for cheap spun or over-syndicated pieces. Again, very risky.
Press Releases: do-follow press releases are considered risky links according to Google and have been targeted for manual penalties. The only good press releases are a few top authorities designed for human traffic, not SEO, and these are nofollow links.
Blog Comments: these are only good in limited numbers from niche relevant sites and with a name as anchor text (no keywords ever). 50 is already overdoing it compared to the other links and you can almost guarantee a cheap SEO service is spamming random auto-approve blogs which are one of the worst types of link sources possible. If they are on niche-relevant sites and using safe practice with anchor text, that might be ok but there is no mention of this so it would be safe to assume the worst.
Directory links: general (all-topic) SEO directories toxic links since before the original Google Penguin penalty. Only editorial niche directories and limited local citation directories are acceptable in small numbers and that is certainly not what is being referenced here.
Can you guess if this SEO package is safe for your site? Yeah, it isn’t… This junk mail is just cheap SEO methods/spam from years ago with no clue about what has changed with Google’s algorithms, or more likely, they don’t care (no doubt they’ve heard back from penalized clients before). Before being tempted to purchase any cheap SEO package, you should take careful note on the link types they are building. Then check if those link types are actually viable. Rewind SEO’s list of penalized links is a good resource to use if you need to screen potentially risky SEO services.
Over the past two years in particular, SEO has made rapid changes with Google’s updates and it is easier than ever to get a Google penalty. There are tons of spammy SEO services so webmasters must always be cautious when selecting a good service. If your website is important, it pays off to always do a little research before hiring an SEO service if anything looks questionable.