Whether your company is new to SEO, or has been around the block a few times, your major concern as of 2014 should be website safety. What I mean by this, of course, is that you should always concern yourself with not only having real search engine optimization results, but ensuring that the techniques used to get them are safe, and that Google won’t penalize you – or worse – ban (de-index) your site altogether.
These Are Different Times
Hey. All Systems Go Marketing has been promoting websites since 1999. We’ve seen changes that you really wouldn’t believe, to the point that if you told us in 1999 how complicated SEO was going to get in 2014, we simply wouldn’t believe you. I mean, no way. Not a chance. But my how things have changed! Briefly, the metamorphosis looked like this: things changed majorly between 1999 and 2003. Then again in 2003 and 2005 as Google took hold and “link building” was born. And then suddenly, SEO stayed the same.
The SEO Middle Ages 2006-2011 – Stability Leads To Idiocy
Between 2006 and 2011, not a lot changed. MSN and Yahoo! unfortunately fell off the map, and Google reigned supreme, but outside of who the main players were, the actual techniques stayed effective. Google SEO was even somewhat easy! Some keyword changes here, buffing up a description there, some alt-tag fun and an H1 tag and you were set to go. Build yourself a million links and you could probably hold a website position for 2-3 years!
The issue with this scenario was that the “art” of link building became an absolute arms race that was punctuated by machine-built links, comment spamming and just general automated foolishness. Load up your machine with “keyword-heavy link text” and blast away seemed to be the word of the day. This was a time when we were preaching moderation, as Google began to realize that, shockingly, people were trying to game the system!
Still, the madness continued. We continued to offer an SEO service that shunned automation, but did lose some clients to the black-hat side of the force. It was a strange time, and things like “article marketing” and “article spinning” became massively popular. Article spinning, by the way, is when you take one article and add different word possibilities to virtually every word in the article, stuff it into a machine and output 1000+ versions of that article! Then, by using things called “article directories”, you could then output what purveyors of the technique called “unique articles” – with the bonus being a link back to your website! And it worked… For a while.
Build My What???
Then, when it seemed like the insanity couldn’t get any crazier, it came – from out of the swamps – a link-building service called Build My Rank. It was a service in which you could write articles and have them posted all over the web on sites that you would never, ever have a chance to be posted on if you weren’t part of the service. To top it off, you could place a keyword loaded link inside your article, and the idea was that Google would provide you with love and page one positions!
And sadly, the idea worked. In spades. Like gangbusters. Soon, it became ridiculously easy to rank for almost anything. Build My Rank grew from a couple thousand members to probably over one hundred thousand members. Their sites became stuffed with people promoting everything from Apples to stuffed Zebras, and wow did it worked. There was probably a moment in 2010, in fact, when 20% of Google’s overall page 1 search results had, in some capacity, used Build My Rank! During that era, you could probably rank a brand new site within three months using this technique. Build My Rank users were ecstatic! The service owners were getting rich! The only people who weren’t happy were those that were preaching safety, and who cared about them! This was almost too good to be true!
Google Lays The Hammer Down
And then, suddenly, it was too good to be true. Google saw how easy it was being manipulated, and got to work. Now, you have to remember that Google employs probably the smartest geniuses in the world. And when you’ve encouraged the wrath of Google, it doesn’t take long until you’re doomed.
Which is what happened to Build My Rank. It soon disappeared. And the rankings of its users??? Also gone! Unfortunately, forever.
This was around the time that Google introduced an algorithm called Panda, and then Penguin. So, if you were using Build My Rank, you were dead. But Penguin would make sure that your site stayed dead.
This is a fact… Many of the sites that were penalized in 2012 are still absolutely nowhere to be found in the results, and it’s all because of 2011-2012 and all the zoo animals that Google unleashed on the industry.
SEO Is Dead. Long Live SEO!
Of course the people who pushed article marketing, spinning and Build My Rank claimed that Google had triumphed. That the game was over, and that we all should just open our wallets to the mighty G and basically surrender. That SEO just wouldn’t work anymore. That it wasn’t worth it! That in the end, Google was the winner.
And fortunately, those people were wrong. Dead wrong.
The bonus of this change was that the con men, the charlatans and the gamers disappeared. Their clients crushed, they moved on to different pastures, convinced that SEO was dead and that there was no point in continuing.
Those people were wrong. The industry was wrong. SEO was and is very much alive. It’s just changed.
Why Safety Matters
Like it or not, we are in an age where over optimizing your site will kill its progress. Where a billion links with your favorite keyword in them will destroy your site. This is a time when Google is updating their algorithm all of the time, and if you’re trying to exploit some kind of spammy loophole, you will pay, and pay dearly. This is no longer 2009, and if you use techniques from then, you won’t be in business for long.
The fact is, going “natural” is in if you’re looking for results. This is not to say that SEO services need to be completely risk-free (which would also mean reward-free), but more that subtlety and an authentic strategy will always win consistent results over the long term. And in a lot of cases, it wins in the short term.
So when you’re selecting an SEO provider, make sure that safety is something that they think about. A lot. It’s can mean the difference between a great campaign, and a Google penalty that, in the words of Energizer, keeps going and going and going…