So it has been uncovered that the Halifax bank website was hit by a Google penalty and lost a chunk of visibility in Google and therefore traffic to their site.
This potentially could be a massive loss in revenue for Halifax if prospects are searching for ‘mortgages’, ‘low interest loans’ or ‘refinancing packages’ and the Halifax website is nowhere to be seen in Google.
In a nutshell, an agency Halifax had hired to manage their SEO, “earned” tens of thousands of links using quick fire tactics and Google latched on.
Off with their heads!! You can read the full post here.
Apart from the usual “don’t pay for links….earn them” advice there’s a bigger lesson to be learnt here for marketers & business owners in construction with very little knowledge about how SEO actually works.
Firstly, earning quality links is still the #1 way of increasing rankings over time.
Secondly, there’s no quick, cheap and easy way of doing SEO either.
I’ve had first hand experience in spotting bad links and bad practices used by agencies who manage construction clients sites.
A few years ago I was auditing links for a Quantity Surveying firm as part of a wider website and analytics audit. The business owner had been paying a set monthly fee to a local agency to build links to their website in order to get them to page 1 of Google for a set series of search terms.
The business owner knew nothing about SEO. He’d been told by the agency “This is all we need to do”.
He agreed and off the agency went to build links every month.
When viewing the links pointing to the QS firms website they were from sites of adult nature, fishing sites, casino sites, porn directories, photography sites even a website that sells yachts!!
What has a site selling yachts in Australia got to do with quantity surveying in the UK?
The business owner had no idea what was going on here – he pays for 50 links, he gets 50 links.
Nobody asked or said where these links were going to come from. Why should he ask? He’s none the wiser.
That’s the lesson. Always ask: “What’s your process and what are the risks?”.
Don’t sign or approve anything when it comes to SEO until you’ve fully understood how it works, been made aware of the risks and what the agencies role is. Get some training!
Remember, in SEO, there are no guarantees!
Have agencies flesh out the process, roles and responsibilities and identify the risks early on.
A good SEO process involves hard work, creativity and using your brain to produce quality content. No short cuts.
A good way of telling the difference between a good link and bad link is asking yourself “Would your kid use that site?”
You’ve got to find authoritative, relevant and quality sites to link to you.
So how do you build links in construction and extend your reach?
Simple. You have to be soooo effing awesome that your audience want to link to whatever you’ve created or built.
But being effing awesome isn’t simple though is it.
You have to have an awesome online experience that makes visitors say “Go use this website. It’s so easy”
You have to write shit hot case studies that makes an engineer say “You should read this” to another engineer.
You have to build shit hot tools that make people say “You have to use this” in forums.
You have to write shit hot unique blog posts that makes people go “I want to share and reference this post in something I’m doing”
You have to produce shit hot white papers that nobody else even dares to write about that makes a University Lecturer go “Holy crap, my students should read this”
You have to produce high value videos that nobody dared do before and makes viewers say “I’m going to include this video in my blog post”.
Tips for construction marketers planning on building quality links and avoiding penalties:
Ask whoever you’re interviewing to help you “What’s your process and what are the risks”.
There are no guarantees so don’t go in their with deadlines. Have milestones as part of a longer term strategy.
If the agency doesn’t take the time to learn about your business, products or services first then get out the room fast.
Make sure you learn as much as you can about SEO before you start. Best option is to speak to people first.
Do some research or hire someone to simply research the opportunities for you (HINT!).
Find some example sites you would like to be associated with. This will help the agency or consultant understand what needs to be done in order to get the attention of such bloggers, media site owners etc
Prepare to work hard. Doing awesome stuff isn’t easy.