SEO Packages – Why They’re So Last Algorithm
The world didn’t end in 2012… unless you had thin/duplicate content, an unnatural link profile or relied heavily on EMD (exact-match domains) for rankings. Penguin, Panda and an array of manual penalties marked the most turbulent times in the history of the search marketing industry. Entire businesses ceased trading overnight, sites receiving multiple Page 1 rankings disappeared and businesses closed their doors.
Two years on, Google released the follow-up Panda 4.0 update, which came as a shock to most, believing Panda had been baked into the algorithm. This time round, Panda hit hard on websites with thin content and gateway pages. eBay was rife with these issues. Some speculate it was Panda, others that it was a manual penalty; eBay and Google are likely the only ones who know for sure. Regardless, the results were a 33% drop in visibility, dropping from #6 in Moz’s Big 10 to #25, and a loss of approximately $200 million in revenue.
A few months prior, another interesting case was that of Expedia. The travel giant suffered a 25% decrease in visibility following a manual penalty for unnatural link building. Looking into their backlink profile at the time, a heavy amount of exact-match anchor text was found on low quality sites. In some cases, this anchor text was positioned in the footer and styled in white on a white background to appear invisible – a possible Negative SEO campaign? Whether this was spammy link building or Negative SEO, Expedia received a massive 25% drop in visibility and Page 1 rankings – a massive impact on income for a primarily online business.
So after examining the above two cases, can we assume that there is a correlation between SEO packages and a drop in rankings as a result of manual penalties? Let’s have a look at your common outsourced link building campaign.
If you’re looking above and shaking your head, you understand pretty well the outcome of unnatural and spammy link building. Packages like the above use outsourced link building, or link networks, to build bulk links on low quality domains. Using a method like this is a sure way to flag your site for a manual penalty. Even if a package doesn’t have a list of bulk monthly links, if it’s low cost (less that you’d expect it would cost for someone in Australia to write unique content and post on a blog), it’s likely to be the same spam campaign. Always ask about what you’re getting in an SEO campaign.
Many businesses have used these kinds of link building strategies in the past, and some continue these practices today! This is the reason Penguin and Panda were introduced: to resolve practices like these that manipulated the algorithm and ensure Google’s quality guidelines are upheld in search results. After all, who would use a search engine where the top results for a query is based on the sites with the most spam-filled backlinks?
Takeaways About SEO Packages
Each algorithm update played its part in making search a fairer playing field, and the ultimate result was the destruction of the packaged SEO approach.
Below are a few reasons why search engine optimisation can no longer be sold in a packaged form.
1. Every Business Vertical Is Different – For example, the competition present for the keyword ‘home loans’ would be substantially different to the competition present for ‘buy bottled water’.
All Websites Come in Different Shapes and Sizes – All websites come in different shapes and sizes – some sites have ten pages, others have thousands! With Panda in full swing, you can’t just optimise a select few pages of a site to rank. Google looks at a site in its entirety, which means the whole site needs to be optimised in order to rank. Can you honestly expect cookie-cutter approaches to deliver results?
3. Off-Site SEO or Link Building Is Now a Science – It requires plenty of hard work and very few shortcuts. Buying a link package with 1,500 blog links directed to your homepage with the exact-match anchor text ‘home loan comparison’ won’t do anything but get your site banned. The process of unique content writing, legitimate outreach and link placement is extremely time consuming and simply can’t be delivered by a triple gold platinum SEO package that costs $299/month.
So if SEO Packages Are Out, What’s the Alternative?
Custom SEO strategies require more effort from both the consumer and the agency, but it’s the only real way to correctly set the expectations of the client, set goals and measure performance as the campaign goes on. This allows all outstanding issues to be identified, scoped and actioned. Such issues commonly include penalties or warnings, onsite issues, the competitiveness of the vertical and backlink clean-ups.
At Search Factory, we pride ourselves on being innovative and practising best practice SEO for our clients. We do not use packages, lock-in contracts or other cookie cutter approaches. Every job is quoted as an individual project, as it should be. Check out our SEO services or get in contact for your individual, custom assessment.