The contents of the following column are based on real circumstances. Certain elements have been changed to respect the privacy of each site.
Imagine there are two websites. Here are their basic profiles:
Site One is an e-commerce company and website launched in 2013 that sells nutritional supplements, based in Atlanta, Georgia. They sell to anyone in the US and are heavily dependent on PPC and organic search traffic for their revenue. Due to their insanely high monthly PPC spend, they have also been link building since the day the sitelaunched.
They hired a local SEO firm to do their link building which then (secretly) out-sourced the link building work to a third-party company. At first, things were working great. Their site started ranking well in Google for a number of money terms, only to drop and then vanish completely from the top 100.The site received notification of amanual penalty from Google.
A review of the backlink profile of this site shows it does not have a single link from any site in the Atlanta area. It does not have links from any reputable health, fitness or training blogs. It has paid product reviews and hundreds of anchor text forum links, is part of a link network, and is listed in several hundred directories that most of us have never heard of.
Site Two is for a Summer Camp for special-needs kids, also located in Georgia. The camp itself was founded in the 1980s and launched a website in the early 2000s. They, too, hired an SEO firm to help them (a different SEO firm than the one Site One hired), and that SEO firm did the work themselves.
This work included conducting outreach to many kids organizations and businesses in the Atlanta metro area as well as in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama, which is where most of their campers come from. Their SEO firm ended up merging with a larger SEO firm, and the camp stopped working with them due to increased cost. The camp then hired the same SEO firm as Site One above. Within six months, Site Two received notification of a manual penalty from Google.
A review of Site Twos backline profile showed paid reviews and hundreds of anchor text forum links. The site was part of a blog link network and was listed in several hundred directories that most of us have never heard of.
However, Site Two had something else. From the work done by the first SEO firm, they had links from sites such as the Down SyndromeAssociationofAtlanta, Atlanta Parent,Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta,Autism Speaks, Chattanooga Parent Magazines special needs camps directory, and at least 50-75 more links similar in theme and credibility to the ones I just mentioned.
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When The Best SEO Move Is To Kill The Site