Time to Throw Your SEO Firm Under the Bus

Written by Nick Stamoulis

In the last few months I have started working with two different companies in two very different fields that were negatively impacted by the work done by their previous SEO firm. The first company was hit when Penguin 2.0 came down the pipeline in May 2013 and lost about ½ of their organic traffic overnight. The second company was served a partial manual action concerning unnatural links in their link profile and (horrifically) their homepage is no longer showing up as the top result for their own brand! Their social profiles, press releases, and some internal pages are still ranking but www.thatcompanybrand.com is nowhere on page 1! Although they exist in very different niches and were hit by two different types of penalties they have one critical thing in common—their previous SEO firms screwed them over hardcore by building low quality, spammy links that Google is really cracking down on.

Unfortunately for the SEO industry, SEO firms and consultants like these give the rest of a bad reputation. The second company I mentioned above quit working with their SEO provider because he claimed “proprietary link building practices” and refused to deliver any kind of link building report or explain where their new inbound links where coming from. This made the marketing team very nervous but the results were looking good (ranking high for a lot of keywords) so the C-suite was happy and kept signing the checks. Ultimately the VP of Marketing convinced her bosses they needed to let their SEO firm go because his actions were putting their site at risk for a penalty. When we started working with them the very first thing I did was check out their Webmaster Tools account (she told me about her former SEO provider) and sure enough there was a partial manual action penalty sitting there. A few weeks later their homepage vanished from the SERPs and now we are in full reconsideration request mode to help them recover. And all this before we even got their keyword research done!

Since this was a manual action we have the ability to submit a reconsideration request and provide documentation the shows our client’s efforts to clean up their link profile. In the message to Google you can also bet we’ll be throwing their former SEO firm under the bus! It’s unfortunate but Google doesn’t really care who build the links, only what site they ultimately point to. Our client trusted their SEO firm to act within the scope of the Google Webmaster Guidelines and because he didn’t they are now paying the price.

The other site owner actually fired his SEO firm as soon as their organic visitors took a nosedive because he knew his provider was the one that had set him up to fail. He hired us only a few short weeks later to help him cleanup his link profile AND build new links at the same time so the next time a Penguin update comes down the pipeline he will be a in good position to recover. Unfortunately for this client, since his penalty was algorithmic and not manual there is no reconsideration request option. Its very much hurry up and wait kind of scenario.

If you were working with an SEO firm that refuses to show you the links they are building on your behalf, for any reason, I would walk away immediately! This is your website on the line and you don’t want to place it in the hands of someone who believes in smoke and mirrors. And should your website suffer a manual penalty because of your SEO firm’s actions don’t hesitate to tell Google about

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