So anyone that hasn’t been living under a rock for the past 12 months is aware that the SEO landscape has changed significantly! More changes have happened to Google’s search algorithm than Shane Warne’s sent text messages!
The three biggest changes to happen last year were the Penguin, Panda and EMD (exact match domain) updates as well as the dreaded Webmaster Tools warning messages. The Webmaster Tools warning messages weren’t algorithmic updates but a manual penalty imposed by Google for shady link building. These updates/manual penalties were by no means small, and caused arguably the biggest shake up in the search industry in living memory! Entire businesses were destroyed overnight, sites receiving multiple page 1 rankings disappeared and businesses closed their doors. The Sistrix chart below shows the impact of just one of the updates known as Panda, as you can see some websites really took a hit.
So what do these updates have to do with SEO packages you ask? (Holds old style megaphone) Everything! A lot of these SEO packages relied heavily on out-sourced services, it was a simple matter of fixing up a few H1’s and title tags then buying an out sourced link-building package. Frustratingly, whoever built the most links with the highest page rank and the best exact match anchor text would be winning the SEO race! This allowed companies to easily formulate packages they could sell and it was just a matter of applying the right package to the right niche and you were away!
Below is a common example of a packaged outsourced link building service.
Now the landscape has changed and in my opinion for the better. Each algorithm update played its part in making SEO a fairer playing field and as a consequence destroying the packaged SEO approach. Below are a few reasons why SEO 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”.
2. All websites come in different shapes and sizes – Some sites are only 10 pages in size while others can be in the 1,000’s! Now with the Panda in full swing you can’t just optimise a selective few pages of a site to rank, Google looks at a site in its entirety, this means the whole site needs to be optimised in order to rank. There’s no way this can be rolled into a one size fits all package.
3. Off-site SEO or link building is now a science – It requires plenty of hard work and very few short cuts. Going off and buying a link package to point 1,500 links at your homepage with the anchor text “home loan comparison” won’t do anything but get your site banned. The process of legitimate outreach link building is extremely time consuming and simply can’t be absorbed into a triple gold platinum SEO package that costs $299/month.
Via a custom proposal! I know it requires more effort from both the consumer and the agency but it’s the only real way to correctly set the expectations of the client and for the agency to know what’s going to be involved in achieving the client’s goals. You need to take into consideration any outstanding issues such as penalties or warnings, on-site work required, the competitiveness of the vertical, off-site work needed and that’s just to name a few.
In summary packaged SEO makes the assumption that every business is just a carbon copy of the other. All businesses are unique and everybody knows that! All businesses have their unique selling propositions, unique target markets and varying strategies. So stop chasing the elusive packaged SEO, as tempting as it is to buy and as tempting as it is to sell, it just doesn’t fit the new world of SEO.