A friend and client of mine, Dustin, forwarded an email he got the other day with the note: Hey I think I’m going to fire you and hire these guys!!:
I would very much like to help your web page achieve first page rankings. Our is happy to produce #1 results for your highest most desirable keyword guaranteed! For $199 we will produce:
20 article submissions
200 backlinks crea…
Thankfully, for my client and for most people these emails are a punch line along the same lines of the Nigerian prince seeking your help with his fortune. The impact however, that a such cookie cutter approach to SEO has had on Google’s search results is not so funny. In just about every competitive local search you are sure to find businesses achieving 1st page rankings despite using firms like the one to build their links. How do I know? Consider for example a competitor for one of our clients who’s an attorney (we will not mention by name). When we look at his back link profile in Moz.com’s Open Site Explorer, here’s what we see:
Open this image and what you will see is essentially the end result of using an SEO company that takes a cookie cutter approach to link building. This lawyer’s link profile is a collection of links that are not relevant or ‘earned’ in any way. There are no quality links. Quality links are what Google is looking for to establish how credible your web site is, and subsequently how high to rank you for your key words.
But here’s the crazy part in this story: this lawyer, who’s SEO company was using these shoddy tactics, was outranking my client! What a joke right? I had to have multiple conversations with my client to reassure him we were on the right path and tell him that were no short cuts we could take to achieve faster results. Of course every time I said this, I had this competitor, who’s presence on the first page for literally every result completely undermined my professional opinion.
So a couple of months went by and we continued with our local seo strategy for our client and then out of the blue I get this email from my client:
[competing law firm] got nailed by Google this week according to our competitor report. Looks like what they were doing caught up to them. Good call!
Now, I try to not take pleasure when something bad happens but quite frankly, it was encouraging to see row after row of this in the column for our competitor’s key word rankings on Google:
More importantly it was nice to see Google actually penalize the tactics that they have been warning SEOs about for some time now.
Now this lawyer (all of this he is probably ignorant about), faces the uphill battle of trying to get his site out from Google’s dog house after enjoying months, possibly years in the warm sunny 1st page rankings.
So what’s the key takeaway here?
Because of how Google is cracking down on web spam, scalable SEO tactics and the web sites that employ them, even getting first page rankings (like our competitor in this example) is no longer the holy grail of for small businesses.
Rather, the end goal is prolonged success online and the only way that can be achieved with is with a solid strategy consisting of quality, relevant links and content that actually appeals to human beings. That’s the only way to ensure long term success online. Especially in competitive industries like the legal field.