Who’s to Blame for That SEO Penalty?

Written by Nick Stamoulis

The biggest SEO failure is obviously any kind of penalty (either algorithmic or manual). This doesn’t just mean that you SEO program didn’t work, it actually worked against you. When sites are whacked with an SEO penalty it can take months or even years for them to completely recover, depending on the severity of the penalty and how often algorithm refreshes happen. For instance, a site that got hit with an SEO penalty after Penguin 1.1 in May 2012 wouldn’t know if they had done what they needed to recover until the next refresh, which came in October 2012. That’s are awful long time to survive and hope that when the refresh comes around you actually fixed what was wrong with your SEO program.

But when a site suffers from an SEO penalty who is to blame? That often depends on how the daily SEO work was divvied up.

Blame your SEO partner.

If you’ve never done any kind of SEO work before and you hired an SEO partner to manage everything from onsite SEO to content creation to link building and you site is ultimately penalized for their actions than obviously it’s easy to lay blame at the feet of your SEO partner. But here’s the thing—Google doesn’t really care who did the work, they only care about what kind of work was done. You could throw your SEO company under the bus in your reconsideration request (provided it was a manual SEO penalty) but you’re the one left picking up the pieces of your online brand and SEO program.

That’s why it’s so important that you only hire white hat SEO companies that can be trusted with your SEO. You want to work with an SEO partner that is just as committed to your long term success as you are and would never play fast and loose with your SEO. Demand transparency in everything they do for your site—see all the links they’re building, all the profiles they are creating, all the content they are producing—and make sure it’s the kind of SEO activity you want associated with your website and brand. At the end of the day, even if your SEO partner is to blame you are the one left to deal with the SEO penalty.

Blame yourself.

In my experience most site owners aren’t actively trying to game the search engines. Many sites owners that got whacked with an algorithmic SEO penalty didn’t even realize what they were doing could get them in trouble—which is why you need to take an active role in your own SEO education. What you do today will influence your long term SEO success and mistakes from a year or two can always pop back up to haunt your current SEO program. If you are hit with an SEO penalty it’s time to get completely honest about your SEO past. Did you buy links? Did you spin content? Did you actually earn links from quality, relevant sites or were you more concerned with volume? It’s never fun to admit that you might be to blame for your SEO penalty but the sooner you face what you did the sooner you can get to undoing the damage.

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