Today we'd like to explain how we discovered the unfortunate waste of money one jeweler spent when they hired a SEO guy to build links by writing blog posts.
There's no need to look at your own account right now, but we'll begin our story with a quick trip into our Google Analytics account and click on the link for TRAFFIC SOURCES in the left margin. From there we expanded the Sources sub-section and selected Referrals.
On this Referrals page inside Google Analytics, we are able to see all the domain names on which people find your website, but more importantly, clicked to visit your website. It's typical to see facebook.com, jewelers.org, yellowpages.com, and maps.google.com among the popular referral domains.
If you've paid someone for "link building" services, you will see hundreds of random domain names in the referral list. If you've paid someone for "content writing," "blog writing," or "content marketing" you will usually see a few domain names with very high visitor numbers.
If you are paying someone for blog/content services, you should review this referral page regularly--specifically those domains with high visitors.
As it turns out, none of the big online companies like web spam. You simply should not abuse free online services in hopes to boost website ranking. Google and Bing fight web spam all the time. Facebook has policies against spam, and as it turns out, so does WordPress.
WordPress has a very popular free blogging service that many SEO "professionals" will abuse by creating low quality, uninteresting editorials which include links back to your main website.
Last week we were reviewing the WordPress referrals from a jewelry store with 5 locations. Right after the initial launch of their website in September 2011, this jeweler hired a local SEO guy to build a blog site and create links to the brand new website.
Initially it worked as the SEO guy built nearly 100 blog pages and brought the new website nearly 3000 visitors.
Unfortunately, the quality of each blog post was very low and it was duplicated between 2 different blog websites. Let's explain "low quality" in case you don't know what it means. It is completely uninteresting drivel that would easily bore you to death if you tried to read it. In other words, it was written in hopes to attract search results in Google, not for humans.
Looking back at the Referrals page in Analytics, we saw a sudden drop from about 15 visitors per day from WordPress to 0 per day in mid January. The jeweler's blogging website was turned off for breaking the WordPress no spam policy. It took about 5 months for WordPress to notice the violation of their policy.
The lesson learned with this is that you have to be careful with who you hire to write content and build links for you. Always ask for a previous sample of the work, and make sure to actually read it yourself.
There really are no guarantees that any paid SEO service is going to work as expected, but you at least need to make sure all the money you pay out will not be in vein.