When you hire an SEO firm they all pretty much promise you the same thing, first page rankings in the SERPs for certain keywords. How do they do this; by creating lots of backlinks to your website, tweaking your website a little bit, and writing quality content. This is great for most people and as long as they see results they don’t question the firm’s methods. However, like with a lot of things, there is a good way to get on the first page and a quick way (A good SEO can do both, but for the sake of simplicity I will talk about the two separately). Search engine optimization is like a marathon, it takes time and a good strategy to get to the front.
The quick method of reaching the first page involves creating lots of backlinks and content very quickly, kind of like a sprint. With this method a lot of SEO’s will just focus on building links from wherever they can and to the homepage only. Like sprinting in a marathon, this may get you to the front quickly, but you will soon run out of steam and start to drop back. It may take awhile for other websites to catch up to you so you could remain on the first page for a few months or even a few years depending on how many of your competitors have hired SEO firms. SEO companies are able to get away with this because the average person does not know a single thing about search engine optimization, and for those that know a little bit they do not know how to check where the links are pointing to. When people get a summary report from the SEO firm it may look something like this:
Oct. 2009* New links: 200 Total links: 2,000 SE Ranking “Keyword A”: #3 SE Ranking “Keyword B”: #5 PageRank: 3 Amount Due: $4,000 *Not Real Stats
What they do not tell you is that out of those 2,000 or so links, 1,990 are pointing to your homepage and about 1,000 (maybe less) of those links are actually relevant. They figure that you will never check this or have the knowledge to check it. However, it is fairly easy to check how many links are pointing to your website and where they are pointing to using Yahoo Site Explorer. All you have to do is enter the URL of your website (Note: http://www.site.com and http://site.com will return different results so use the URL that is ranking) and Yahoo does the rest. If over 70 percent of the links are pointing to your homepage that is a bad sign, unless of course you just signed the SEO contract in the past two or three months then 70-80 percent is normal. If the SEO is doing a good job then you should see this percentage start to drop below 70 within the next few months.
If you are thinking about hiring an SEO firm you might want to do some research on their website using Yahoo Site Explorer. If 90 percent or more of their links are pointing to their homepage, chances are that they will do the same to your site. They may tell you that their method is the best way to getting to the top quickly, but remember search engine optimization is a marathon, not a sprint.
The good way search engine optimization strategy is to link to all or most of the pages on your website. A good percentage that will return strong rankings would be 50 percent of the backlinks point to the homepage and 50 percent point to other pages. This method still has most of the links pointing to you homepage which is the most important page of your website, but also have links pointing to the content of your website, this is also known as deep linking. Deep linking is a very underutilized strategy in search engine optimization because it takes longer to reach the first page of the search engines, but in the end the strength of your rankings will be much better and you will even rank above others who used the sprint method.
Another part to the slow and steady method is getting quality, relevant links. Many times SEO’s who use the sprint method will get links from where ever they can whether the site is relevant or not. Some of the best (or worst) examples of this are commenting on hundreds of unrelated videos (i.e. man breaks world record for corn eating and linking back to a law website), commenting on unrelated blog posts (commenting on a law blog and linking back to a health website), and creating a fake program and having the download URL point to the clients website (I have actually seen all of this done more than once). This might yield a lot of links, but since they are unrelated they do not have much weight to them.
A good way to think about links is to compare them to change; the lower the quality the lower the value. For example, using the sprint method will yield lots of low value coins like pennies and nickels, and maybe a few high value coins like quarters and half-dollars. The slow and steady method will yield a lower number of coins but they will be of higher value such as quarters, half-dollar, and dollar coins. So in the end which would you rather have 1,000 pennies, 500 nickels, and 250 quarter(1,750 coins, $97.50); or 500 quarters, 250 half-dollars, and 50 dollar coins (800 coins $300)?
Are You Getting The Most From Your SEO? by The Web Squad is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.