Hello again! Since I last wrote an update, Spring has arrived! Hopefully a lot of you are enjoying some slightly warmer weather between bouts of wrestling with Google.
We’ve got a lot of great news threads from WebmasterWorld and Cre8asiteforums this week, as well as our title thread from SEO Chat!
I think it’s pretty common knowledge in the business and SEO worlds that sometimes people get burnt. Sometimes a business hires an SEO who can talk circles around them, but they either provide no results or wind up doing damage.
It’s also difficult for businesses to gauge the value of SEO, I think. That’s probably why many of them flock to Fiverr and other services.
If they don’t understand the value, why not buy cheap and see how it goes? But, certainly, not all SEO practitioners are equal. And not everyone’s definition of SEO is the same, either. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
Let’s start with some news!
I believe this story was initially broken by the New York Times. They found that advertisements for big companies and even governments were appearing on YouTube for videos posted by what the BBC calls “extremist groups.”
Those ads didn’t just make the companies money – they made the extremists money as well. Not just chump change either – 250,000 pounds, according to The Guardian. And that goes to groups like Isis.
“Taxpayer-funded ads for various branches of the British Government were appearing alongside Isis propaganda videos and other offensive content,”
writes the BBC. Google has been scrambling to fix their system and reassure advertisers.
“I think it shows the flaws Google’s matching of ads with user generated content (and third party sites as well – AdSense targeting can be pretty inappropriate too).It works ok for “widgets in working” type searches, but for anything that is not specifically a product search it becomes pretty hit and miss,”
“The pot has been simmering for a number of years. This might be the first sign it’s about to boil over,”
writes tangor. Besides WebmasterWorld, you can read more about the UK Government pulling YouTube ads on Cre8asiteforums too!
The most startling revelation in their report is that between 2015 and 2016, 36% more sites were hacked. Google warns that “61% of webmasters who were hacked never received a notification from Google…because their sites weren’t verified in Search Console,” which is a statement that some on WebmasterWorld take umbrage with.
Since so many sites are unverified,
“…Google shouldn’t be relying on that as a way to notify, imho. It’s up to webmasters to look after their sites, but they shouldn’t have to have GSC, imho,”
writes engine. Keyplyr speculates that most site owners might just hire a developer and nothing else.
“Surely most have no knowledge of GSC and if they do, may be timid about engaging with the various tools and settings.”
7_Driver wonders how Google defines a hacked site. They’ve received notifications in the past but,
“Both times it turned out to be a site that we linked to that had dropped and been re-registered and now contained Malware – it wasn’t on our site at all.”
SEO Chat newbie Chois2 is looking to improve their search traffic, and they want to find an SEO firm or individual to do so. They’ve gotten quotes from firms and looked at freelancers on Upwork.
“From those who I’ve shortlisted [on Upwork], the references check out and they successfully achieved top Google ranking…However I feel most everyone telling me that they will do a little on-site SEO but focus on backlinking and directory submissions.”
Like many people who want the results of SEO but aren’t familiar with the industry, they’re wondering how to find someone to trust. Chedders makes a lot of great points:
“Firstly I would never hire an SEO person who approached me. If they are good at what they do then either they will have a good reputation within the industry or they should not be difficult to find.”
He also writes,
“The other problem I have really is that for the money a lot of the top agencies charge you could bring the SEO in house.”
Pierre Benneton outlines how different SEO firms and individuals price themselves:
“As a professional, I work both on a project basis or an hourly base. My hourly price is composed of a fix rate plus a variation depending on the niche, the company, and the money my job will generate. Therefore a small restaurant will pay less for my services than a big company selling high added value products.”
KernelPanic also makes some brilliant points about the value of PPC, when done by an experienced professional. Any newbies out there looking to learn what to look for – give this thread a read!
Things ebb and things flow. It seems to be the case in SEO, sometimes, that today’s number 1 is tomorrow’s bottom of page 40. And when that happens, a site’s traffic just seems to dry up. WebmasterWorld member goodroi further defines things:
“I don’t see it as simply the top 10 rankings get all the traffic. I see it more like each day X amount of people are searching for something and that pie is getting sliced up each day.”
NickMNS thinks of a zero sum game as post and pre Google updates:
“The idea of the zero sum game, simply suggests that the update may not be about your site being penalized but instead about a competitor’s site being pushed up.”
Furthermore, other Google updates like direct answers and the Knowledge Box have been viewed as sapping traffic from sites that once raked it in. Give this thread a read for more on this very nuanced topic.
That’s a relief for me to hear! Gary Illyes recently responded on Twitter to someone asking if the user generated content on their forums could be why their site was failing. His response was that it seemed “unlikely.” But to add more to this thought – a forum could hurt you if you completely ignore it.
User generated content could mean spam links or whole paragraphs of copied and pasted advertising text. If you let your forum be buried under that kind of stuff with no moderation then yes, there could be a danger.
Again! AdWords’ exact match feature was watered down in the past, but soon it will begin widening what it defines as “close variant matching.”
That means that variations in words you specify, or different word orders, could become targets. Threadwatch has more on why webmasters are upset that the word “exact” has lost its meaning.