Why it’s important to be a good guy in the SEO industry

The SEO industry as a whole is changing almost on a daily basis, and I’m not just talking about search metrics!

Whilst I have not been in the SEO industry as long as many of my peers, I have certainly noticed a few changes over the past few years. When I first started in SEO there seemed to be an unwritten code within SEO-ers that you don’t ‘tell on people’. Ok, you might do things to sabotage the competition – for example there was Google bowling, firing porn backlinks at the competition and, more recently, rainbow tables. But let’s take all of that out of the equation as this is all very black hat SEO.

In the past, if someone were to implement an SEO strategy which impacted on your SERP rankings then you would merely add it to your strategy rather than trying to take them down.  I know what you’re thinking: ‘where’s the fun in that?’ The thing is, instead of spending your time attacking an individual website SEO strategy, you could invest that time in making your own natural search presence stronger. So, in a competitive sector it is pretty pointless implementing anti-SEO tactics on rivals. Unless, of course, money is no option.

All’s fair in love and war’, which, let’s face it, SEO is?

Over the years I have found 1000s of dodgy things being done by the competition and although sometimes it has driven me wild, I’ve always come back to the same conclusion: Good for them!

I have found large Russian hubs before, and I still have no idea how many people they must have had employed to produce that amount of spam.

With the latest Panda second round update it’s becoming more and more about quality content, although there are still tonnes of ways to abuse this with enough money, people and knowledge. Gone are the days of buying as many links as possible from anywhere. This leaves two options; do it the wrong way, or do it the right way. Whilst there is still some semi-automation in SEO, this is generally processes to speed up what can be done by a human, such as reporting. Whilst it is necessary to implement some automation, the majority of modern SEO skills have gone back to traditional marketing techniques. ie. networking.

So what’s my point?

I’m a strong believer in just being honest as an SEO consultant and it has always paid dividends. Some companies out there have no idea what they are doing, and promise undeliverable and unrealistic search positions for the budget. Every day in the office we get literally dozens of emails and calls from companies that have been badly burnt by SEO cowboys. I pride myself on always offering good honest advice and I always help direct people in the right direction; even if they don’t have the budget to pay for the services of a professional SEO company.

My little rant

It’s so important to get things right from the start on site; so many people only worry about SEO when the design and development have all been signed off. This includes government websites, which typically waste millions of pounds, because they didn’t even bother to contact an SEO company until the project went live.

Do a quick search for all .gov.uk sites which include Lorem ipsum text. It returns 75k of results in Google! Now that’s a lot of duplicate content and we know how strict the Panda update is with duplicate content on domains.

Here’s an interesting research technique I’d like to share

Now I don’t want to open a can of worms here, but… if you were curious about how many government pies a specific SEO agency has their fingers in, a good way to get an idea is using the following search queries for a bit of fun:

link:***SEO company URL here*** site:gov.uk

link:***SEO company URL here*** site:.ac.uk

Now just because you find an SEO agency that has access to a .gov.uk domain and uses this access to provide backlinks for all their SEO clients… even if this is blatantly against the UK government T&Cs and you can prove it… sometimes it’s best to sit back and just think ‘well done guys’.

The SEO industry is pretty small and what goes around comes around, so play nice out there kids!

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