Today I'd like to talk briefly about the adverse affects of paying a company for link building. This is a topic that many SEO professionals have written about a lot this year in the wake of the Google Penguin Update from April 2012. I'd like to cover this topic again now that 6 months have passed.
As a recap of what was in the news 6 months ago, Google has a filtering algorithm that detects when you have too many links pointing to your website with the same keywords. It's called the "Penguin Filter."
Prior to 2012, if you wanted to rank your website for the phrase "engagement ring" you could simply hire a company in India for a small monthly fee to create thousands of links for you using the phrase "engagement ring."
The links would be posted to blog comments, into forums, as paid links on websites, and hundreds of other random places online. This was a complete "Black Hat" (bad) process of building links because the links were paid for, and created through an automated process.
Google likes links created by actual humans that are interested in what you are selling or saying, rather than links created just for the sake of spamming the search results with a keyword. Google had ways to detect spam link building, but it always took a while to detect... that is until Google Penguin was released. If that sounds bizarrely dramatic, well, it is.
The Google Penguin filter seriously penalized websites when too many identical links existed. If you've ever hired an SEO company to "build links" for you then you are most likely affected by the still active Penguin Filter. Even if you fired the link building company, all the work that you paid them for is still out there working against you.
The average number of website visitors to a non e-commerce retail jewelry store website should be 43 people per day. For the websites I track, every one that is below this average is either an old website that hasn't been updated in more than a year, or one that once upon a time paid for link building services.
From the layman's point of view, if Google is penalizing you, it will appear that your website is worthless or providing very little benefit to your business. In fact it *is* worthless to your business, but only because of your own actions of paying a cheap company to work on your SEO.
If you once paid an outside company for link building, you need to have all those links removed. You would probably need to hire another service company to clean this up for you. Even after you have those spammy links deleted it will still take a long time before your website ranks for the phrase "engagement ring" again.
In exchange for all that spammy link building, you should start blogging on your website. Another alternative to having the links removed is to move your entire website to a new domain name.
The Penguin Filter targets individual domain names and the content on those domains. You can achieve a clean slate and start over a lot faster if you change your domain name and migrate your content; but I only recommend that if you were a big offender of spammy link building.
In conclusion, take a look at your Analytics to see your average daily visitor count. If your website is several years old and with an average visitor count of less than 40 then you should assume something is wrong with your website. Have an SEO professional review and report on what is wrong with your website.