A clean link profile is a thing of beauty and a lot of the time, it is also a thing of rarity. The past decade has seen all kinds of changes in how links are valued, but if you are heavily involved in SEO then you know how important it is to stay up to date, maintain your site and watch out for junk links. A recent article on Search Engine Land by columnist Kerry Dean talks about this issue and how today’s SEO firms are dealing with so much of their client’s past ‘baggage‘ in terms of links that they are practically turning into clean up crews for the accounts they manage.
NOTE: What Dean has to say is valuable to those of us who have older sites we need to fine tune or who run a business handling client’s SEO needs, but if you are newer then checking out our recent post on linkbuilding will give you a better idea of how to avoid creating baggage for your site.
That being said, Dean does make a valid point when he brings up the fact that a lot of his work managing SEO accounts now revolves around hunting down SEO problems on his client’s sites. The issues, he tells us, are often subtle and technical in nature, requiring a competitive analysis in order to ‘diagnose‘. Issues with the type or quality of your content are a whole other matter and far more obvious in many cases.
Paying for SEO Sins of the Past
What a site’s owner did in the past or what the marketing professionals have done can end up making a site look less than appealing to search engines like Google. The problem is, up until recently most of the world’s SEO providers could get away with a lot that would never pass muster today. Major SEO providers have gotten nailed by Google recently so changes are definitely being made, but what about those things already done? They’re still there. All those spammy links, all those ‘great ideas‘ of another era often remain online and getting them removed? That’s tough.
Indeed it does seem unfair, but the fact is – the work has to go on. The truth is, link building went so awry during the first 18 years of the new millennium that hardly anyone has remained untouched by recent changes. What we believe, though, is that it is all about how you respond to those changes. If you do SEO for clients, then you might be reluctant to take on a client with a lot of this ‘baggage‘ but they need service, too. If you have a site you dearly want to rescue from SEO hell then this means you have to put on those rubber gloves, grab that trusty mop and get to work – metaphorically speaking.
It’s certainly not a job that’s ‘glamorous’ but it is a job that needs to be done. The good news is that a historical SEO audit is not as hard to do as you might think. At the same time, the value of an audit like this is incalculable if you take the time and energy to get it right. Think carefully about this, though, if you are thinking of doing it yourself for a site
you own. You might be better off choosing professionals with experience to help you get it right.
First You Need to Do a Link Profile Audit
The first thing you are going to want to have to get your job done is some tools. Not just any tools, but the tools of the trade that are well respected. Dean suggest putting these 4 to work:
After the recent algorithm changes from Google, we have to look carefully at any and all issues involving a client’s link profile and these tools are good ones, though we have our own custom tool collection. Still, these are 4 good suggestions that can help you scrutinize internal and external links.
You can accomplish a lot just by paying attention to what you see in the graphs. Focusing on things that look ‘unnatural’, as Google terms it, is a good start. That gives you a good idea of the links you should start trying to eliminate. If you can’t get rid of them through traditional channels, you might want to think about contacting Google. The bottom line is that you should not give up if you want the organic search traffic.
Next, You Need to Audit the Site’s Content
Now, in the second part of your efforts, you focus on the good old Panda. Issues with links are generally attributed to Penguin, but issues with content are all about feeding the Panda what it wants and that is fresh, high quality content. You will want to look at the data to find out if this is likely the cause, but if you read through a site’s pages you can generally spot this visually. Take note of the amount of traffic that is coming in on each page. Are these low ranking pages relevant and actually useful to visitors?
This is pretty basic stuff, but it is easy to forget when you are monitoring hundreds or even thousands of pages. The ones that get low levels of organic traffic have got to be investigated. Your whole site should be as appealing as possible to search engines.
SEO Pros Need to Work Closely with a Client’s IT & Marketing Pros
Now, for those who are working on their own sites this will not be as relevant, but those professionals who serve clients often have large companies with several departments and plenty of people involved in the process of designing the web site and marketing it, too. This means that if you are working with a client, you need to get in touch with these people and find out what they are doing. Their efforts could foil your own if you are not checking out what they are doing and keeping them informed of the issues their site faces in SEO. Not all problems with a link profile are going to be from spamming practices or even overly aggressive marketing campaigns in the search engines.
So, the job of an SEO today is much more comprehensive, but this ends up being a good thing. More hats have to be worn, but you will end up being seen as a more vital part of the business, too. You’ll need a lot of data to come up with the right solutions so do not be afraid to request it. After all, being part of an effective team can be a rewarding experience and, in the case of SEO today, teamwork with all the departments that affect the website in any way is crucial.
Rough Work But It’s Gotta Be Done
So whether you need to do a ‘mop up‘ for your own site or you are an SEO pro working in the field today, the job has gotten more ‘janitorial‘ in nature. The good news is that it is still vital to success online and understanding the issues in SEO today makes you even more of an expert with a real specialty that is sure to matter in the future.
Have you noticed in increase in the amount of ‘mopping and scrubbing‘ you’ve had to do for sites you work on? Have you got any tips you’d like to share or issues you need help with? We invite you to leave your question or comment below and let your voice be heard.