I remember the day when I used to hunt the internet every day looking for what the latest Google update could be, just to try and get ahead.
We had all seen the impact of what Panda and Penguin could have on people’s businesses. Ensuring you keep up with the guidelines was one of those things you did in order to avoid falling foul of Google and risking the dreaded penalisation.
In the day it seemed to me that link building was a case of building keyword rich anchors on relevant blogs, articles sites and directories. It made sense, as long as it’s relevant, you’re probably giving the user a good experience – why wouldn’t you put a link to blue widgets on www.bluewidgetsdirectory.co.uk. The problem is that a lot of these sites were set up purely for the purpose of SEO and that’s where it all went a bit wrong. Even when you thought you link building ethically, you didn’t realise the beast you were feeding.
The whole Panda situation I can understand, as I never really got why people would want to rank poor quality pages. Kind of seems counter-intuitive to improve conversion rate doesn’t it? Who stays on a page with little or no useful content? Even websites that spammed-linked their way to the top often had something useful to sell.
Google started to catch up and devalue elements and rankings factors one by one, with bloggers and webmasters speculating on how to adhere to the new guidelines. We should avoid low quality directories and we should now avoid article sites – even highly ranked authoritative ones.
As time went on, and we had all changed our practices to what seemed more like traditional PR with link building mixed in, I found myself caring less and less about what the guidelines and rules were. My opinion was that because most of my work involves collaborating with publishers, bloggers, organizations and other providers of information, Google doesn’t really need to be getting involved. Other things such as engaging content, proper site structure, clear URLs and titles are pretty obvious to anyone doing SEO.
I suppose this is what Google had wanted all along in the first place, and in hindsight I do think it made the right decision cracking down on the spam, but as I said earlier a lot of good sites ranked using spam-linking, and it was a painful to see them in ruin. Of course plenty of sites disappeared that should have too.
The one thing that this old school method of relationship building doesn’t prepare you for is the sheer amount of effort that it requires to do. I work with a few magazines and it could take a good few months to secure that publication and get a link on their digital equivalents. It could be that you work with other types of organisations too which have much longer processes. One has to accept that this is the way, fight your corner and crack on with the job.
You can follow Nick on Google+
Back to blogs