The End Of Negative SEO Is Nigh – Or Is It?

Today, marks the end of the third month of 2016 and recent news from this blog, is that Google are still some distance away from releasing their long awaited Penguin Live Update.

For those unfamiliar with Google’s obsession with black and white fury animals, Panda and Penguin, we are talking here about one of the automated ways that Google applies filtering to the search results, or serps as they are referred to.

The use of automated rules or algorithms, helps Google with their mammoth task of deciding who should be listed at #1 in the serps, and who is worth of position two, three, so on and so forth – up to millions of places for those in the running for ranking.

Penguin To Go Live Refresh

Now the Penguin algorithm, is a set of rules that attempts to intelligently analyze who has been playing naughty and who has been playing the right Google game, when it comes to links from other peoples websites. At the very heart of the way Google decide who is worthy of a top spot in their serps, is the ranking factor of links (actually votes) from other people’s websites, that determine who should be seen as the authority and claim the number one spot for any given search term or keyword as they are referred to.

So the thing that Penguin is attempting to do, is decide which links are real or earned and which links have been paid for or bought. Google are desperately stamping out anything that openly flaunts their rules with the Penguin algorithm, and that means even websites that have not done anything wrong other than rank too well for a competitor, who has no problem with hiring someone on to do a “Negative SEO” attack on the competitors site (as in your site). This is usually what has happened in the situation where someone didn’t want to do Google allowed or approved SEO but wanted to remove a competitor from the search results so that they could ascend.

Negative SEO Is Real & It Hurts Bad

If you have ever had this happen to your site, you will know how devastating this is for traffic and conversions, and how much of a nightmare that follows in trying to get the penalty removed. Google have provided tools and means for achieving this end but the process has been horribly slow due to the fact that the penalty is only removed when Google get around to refreshing the Penguin algorithmic index. The last time this occurred was in October of 2014, so even after disavowing low quality links and having links from dubious sources removed, a site may technically be out of penalty, it remains in a state of fallen grace until Google update Penguin.

The promise of the “Live Refesh” of Penguin, is that in a penalty situation from over zealous or unscrupulous backlinking by you, an SEO firm or a hacker on Fiverr will be instantly removed. This essentially will make negative seo a thing of the past.

Overcome Negative SEO With Ease – Really?

Let’s take a situation one mind find one’s site in, with a negative SEO attack.

You login to your site’s Google Analytics platform to discover that yesterdays normal 200 visitors has turned into 2. At first you think it is just a bad in search but then this continues for a few days and realize something has changed. On digging deeper you discover a message in the Google Search Console alerting you to the fact that your site has drawn a penalty for low quality backlinks. You then phone your SEO team and get them onto the case. They quickly identify the toxic sources, disavow them and within a few days the penalty has vanished and it is back to business as normal.

When I say that the effect is instant, it is only by comparison to the old way of waiting, months (years?) for any effect to be seen. The important thing to remember is that Google need to go and index those toxic links again before they discount their association to your site, so this is why it can take sometime, maybe days to see the release of the penalty to occur.

Is this then going to mean that because a negative seo attack can be reversed relatively easily or is this going to mean it will continue for years to come? Many in the SEO industry have been arguing for years with Google over their stance on low quality links. There really need be no benefit or deficit from a low quality link, Google could and should just ignore such links. As they say, “ignore it and it will simply go away”. Why do they have to hand out a penalty for a low quality link or a million of them, if they could simply set a threshold on the effect of a link based on where it was a quality link or not?

So Who Has The Upper Hand Here?

The real reason I believe is that Google want to punish, not just deny any favors, but actively punish people for trying to manipulate the serps to their benefit. This is what SEO is about after-all. Giving your site a boost, be it from whatever means, either Google sanctioned or otherwise. It is about you getting ahead and this puts someone else behind or further down the page. Google need to show they have the power to decide about who ranks and who doesn’t to the point that they deny the reality firstly of negative seo and they see this far more important than trying to consider the plight of the damned who have fallen foul to the Penguin penalty due to someone else’s actions.

So here we have the search giant acting in their best interest before the interest of those who they are supposed to be serving with their search engine. Their customers have been put through undue pain and suffering all because they want to be seen as the authority on who gets to rank. Google would argue it is their search engine and they can do what they so please, but this ignores one important fact and that is without their customers website information, the content that we the other party create, their search engine would have nothing to show. They are a parasite living off the backs of someone else’s work and they need to remember this. Then again who am I to tell Google what to do? It is Google telling me what to do, since they are in charge right?

Enough of my rant, but really to think that negative seo will disappear once the live update comes to pass, and who knows when this is going to be – really is asking a lot from what Penguin need not be doing in the first place. My advice if you find your site in a state of penalty be it from your own or another’s seo doings, then the fastest way to see the light of day and good search traffic is to simple create a new website. I know this sounds drastic and expensive but your alternatives are likely to be more expensive when you add the lost business you are not being able to bill. If you are anything like the doctors in our case studies, who were able to grasp this concept and build a new site with all of Google approval, and maintain steady traffic and new patients – years after any and all Google algorithm updates, then you should consider getting in touch as soon as possible.

Don’t Panic Just Walk Away…

There is no need to panic if your site, your branded website that is listed in all your advertising and represents your practice, for this be taken down just because it no longer ranks. You need to keep this site for many reasons, and one of those is your existing patients who will come back to your site and will not be needing to search via Google to get there. Even a negative seo darned site, should stay – just make sure you build a new one and wait no longer (it’s been 18 months) for Google to act with the live Penguin update or refresh. When you choose the right team to do this for you, you will be glad you did.

Content Is King, SEO & Lies

With a headline like that, you are probably expecting some flames to be flying and I promise, I will not disappoint.

It has been some time now that rules of SEO have been rewritten to now place a major focus on the actual content that is found at the top of the search results, more so than the sites that link to that content. Or so it is thought. Content is King right? I mean Google say that you just need to write (create, publish) good quality content on your website and that they will take care of the rest.

Don’t go about creating any links from other people’s websites, just to boost your rankings because Google will just magically find your content boost it to the top, as long as it is “quality content”, right? Watch this video from Google…

Well let’s just think about the logic behind this for a minute…

Let’s just suppose there are 10 plastic surgeons who are all excellent doctors with outstanding medical histories, a long list of satisfied patients and essentially well established surgeons in their own right.

Now they have the sufficient resources at their disposal to not only build a high quality website, but publish it with high quality content complete with extensive before and after photo galleries. They all appear to be great choices when it comes to quality content.

So the questions beckons, “who does Google decide is the best, and sits at #1?”. The answer is they don’t know and can’t tell just purely based on the quality of the website and it’s “King Content”.

They need more information before they can make this decision.

What information and where do they get it from?

Other people’s websites, and what they have to say about these doctors, via what is referred to as a “backlink”. Now these backlinks are not all of the same power when it comes to balancing the equation on what is a valuable link.

Let’s take a look at two examples, and see if you can determine which is the higher valued or valuable link to have.

Website A:

The first website that has a backlink pointing to a surgeon’s website is all about plumbing supplies. The link is in the sidebar, along with other advertising banners. It is a text link surrounded by mixed content that ranges from plumbing supplies, building information and links to other construction websites.

Website B:

The second website is a health related blog. It has topics that cover women’s health issues in particular. The link that comes from this site is in a blog post by a guest author, who is taking about the pros and cons of a particular form of facial plastic surgery. There are references to alternatives that don’t require going under the surgeon’s knife and also a list of doctors who are widely accepted as authorities on the subject. There are quotes from one of the doctors and it is also a link to his website.

Now before you decide which is the better link, times this equation in your head for our 10 surgeons we mentioned above. They all have a range of different links but for the sake of the argument, lets just imagine that there is one doctor in the list who gets more and more of the Website B styled links and the rest get a mixture, but mostly weighted towards the Website A style links.

It is pretty obvious that the doctor with more of the relevant links is going to fare higher in the search results than the others, purely because he is demonstrating a higher degree of authority in his field of endeavour.

Yes it is more complex than this simplified version I have used for my illustration but I think it demonstrates the point that content is not really the king it used to be or is at least made out to be.

Content yes it is important, and sort of kingly but is KING, no I don’t think so. Everybody can produce top quality content, it is easy, just hire a good copy writer and plan your site well and you are in the running for being a great content producer. The kind that Google say they love.

Google also say that you don’t need to do anything else, they will take care of it. Matt Cutts the former (now vanished) Google engineer turned SEO spokesperson aka Webspam Fighting Team Leader can be seen in the video at the beginning of this post espouse exactly that.

Don’t build any backlinks, that is risky and will get you banned by Google. That is also what they say, but it is not what they do. Even so SEO companies will tell you the same thing, “Don’t build backlinks, that is old school, we have a better way…”

So if you can’t build any backlinks and nobody is going to link out to you, i.e. create a backlink for your website, unless they can find you in the first place, how are any links every going to be established if your site is totally invisible?

Good question. It is a real chicken and egg situation.

Someone is lying when it comes to the Content is King and Backlinks situation. Could it be Google are not being entirely transparent or truthful here?

One way of finding out what the truth is, is to see what Google allow to rank at the top of the search engines and with the help of some fancy backlink discovery tools, one can easily see what backlinks are actually doing the work required to get this website to the top.

When you can see the actual links, and see how they have worked their magic, you know that Google have access to this information as well, so you can draw your own conclusion on what the truth is.

The fact of the matter is this, backlinks do count and will continue to count. They are not going anywhere when it comes to Google’s algorithmic calculations about who is the top authority on any given subject. They need backlinks to prove the value of their choice. Naturally the higher valued backlinks are more difficult to acquire but they need to be there to make content the King that he is supposed to be.

If you want to get an idea of your own backlink profile and see how this stacks up against your competitors who are currently out doing you in the Google search results, I suggest you get in contact with and I can arrange a free 30 minute Skype strategy call. We will do an audit on your website and show you what your current SEO company doing that is good and as the case may be, not so good.

So click here to schedule your call with me today.


Pay Peanuts Get Charlie Brown

They say that, “Long after the sweet taste of low cost is forgotten, the bitterness of a poor choice remains”.

When it comes to SEO, this old saying is no less true.

In fact it ties in with another, “you get what you pay for“.

Pay a little, get a little.

Pay a lot, get a lot.

Pretty simple equation wouldn’t you say?

Well, in SEO circles there is another confusing factor. And it goes like this…

SEO, Ah… What Exactly Am I Paying For?

Most people are not aware of exactly what it is they are paying for when it comes to hiring an SEO company to look after their online promotion and reputation.

SEO companies are famous for fluffing out their deliverables by putting decoys in their clients paths. Things such as, confusing reports, graphs and charts and other diversionary distractions.

But what did you actually do for me? Is often asked.

And aside from the seo hirer’s confusion is the fact that the SEO practitioner can get shafted, even when they provide a good service. It goes something like this, “Hey look at us, we are making good money, our rankings are great, so we probably don’t need the seo guy anymore right?”…

So much confounding fog on both sides of the equation.

For the client:

You got to sell more product – that is what your SEO guy did for you. Anything else is not needed to be known.

For the seo guy:

You did your job well and got good rankings for your client and through more website visits, connected with more new customers. End of story.

Attention: All Parties!

Both parties need to remember this, SEO is designed to help increase exposure via search. When the efforts of the SEO guy or gal are fruitful, this usually leads to increased sales or leads for the client.

Back to the original point, you get what you pay for. Too often I will loose a prospective client to someone who will under cut my prices. This stings, as no one likes to loose. But…

Undercutting is a race to the bottom, so you need to know your anchor point and remain true to your value proposition. I like to charge my clients in line with what my SEO can do for improving their bottom-lines.

I stick to my guns. My price is fair, especially when your gain is exceptional.

When prospects can see what good SEO has done for someone else, they are getting a glimpse at their own future. To be able to use a case study, to enlighten the otherwise dark and mysterious path of SEO, is one of, if not the best way to demonstrate – what your are actually getting for your money.

Let’s look at an example:

Dr John (not his real name) is a well respected plastic surgeon who up until his site got slammed by Google, was getting a good amount of new patient inquiries – leading to bookings.

He didn’t know what to do, his site was sinking fast and despite the best efforts of his current SEO company, things just got worse.

His surgery had overheads that were not being met by his current cash flow and he had to do something to stop the money bleed.

He turns to Google Adwords.

It is expensive, with some clicks costing him $60+ each time someone just clicks on an ad in the search results.

Things go well, he stems the financial hemorrhage and the day has been saved. Well sort of…

He now runs at a considerably high cost per acquisition equation, for finding new patients.

Cost of New Patient Acquisition

Each ad click in the Google search results paid ads section, averages $45,  and this times 42 equals $1890.

Forty two is the average number of ad clicks it costs to find and secure a new patient. With an average cost of a procedure being $8,900 he is netting approximately $7,010 and this is before his other overheads are considered.

Each month he gains an average of 10 new patients, so we know he is spending about $18,900 on Google Adwords. Over a year that is $226,800 he is spending on his search marketing efforts.

Now enter smart(er) SEO consultant who comes in and demonstrates a way to start a brand new website on a new domain, all the while leaving the existing site complete with the Dr John branding in place. This new site cost’s $12k to hand build in accordance to the new Google Panda specifications and his SEO costs him $5k per month.

He begins to now get 15 new patients per month, after his site has reached the top of the search results, typically after 6 – 12 months and now he is very happy with the results.

By reducing his Google Adwords dependence over those 12 months down to $0, he is in front by $13,900 per month ($18,900 – $5,000) which ads [sic] up to $166,800 saved each year.

On top of that, his increase in new patients from 10 to 15 each month, means those 5 new patients he adds to his customer list each month, add up to an extra turn over of of over $500,000.

Patient = $8,900
x 5 = $44,500
x 12 = $534,000

Who Wants To Bump The Bottom Line Up Another $500k?

Now here’s the question, if you knew for certain this was going to be your outcome by investing in proper SEO that delivers these results time and time again like clockwork, would you risk this by looking for a cheaper alternative to save a few hundred or even a couple of thousand a month?

My guess is, if you are short sighted and love a bargain, or are always looking to get the best deal, by taking a quote and getting someone to undercut it, then you are probably not going to see the sorts of returns I have demonstrated above. Your peanuts mentality will get you comical results like an unfortunate episode in a Charlie Brown sketch. The only problem is, this is no laughing matter.

“What am I paying for with SEO?” the answer is more patients.

When done right with a proper realistic budget and the right team behind your SEO efforts, you can expect to increase your new patient acquisitions and lower your marketing costs substantially.

To find out exactly what your (current) SEO company is up to, why not schedule a 30 minute strategy Skype call and I can show you not only what you are missing out on currently, I can show actual cases studies of doctors who are prepared to share their success stories. So what are you waiting for, your 30 minute strategy call is free, so get in touch today.

Is My Website’s PageRank (PR) Still Important For Me To Rank In Google?

It has been some time now since Google in December of 2013, moved away from PR or PageRank as an identifiable SEO metric.

You may have heard people say, “PR is not important for ranking anymore” or “Google don’t see PR as important for you to rank” and have probably been wondering, is PageRank still important and if it is how do we find out what our site’s PR is.

PageRank Is Far From Dead

The answer to this question is multifaceted.

To begin with, Google used to update PR every 3 to 4 months via what was called “Toolbar PR”. This gained it’s name from various toolbar add-ons that picked it up and displayed a sites PageRank. So toolbar PR is no longer being updated by Google and many have wrongly interpreted this to mean Google no longer value the metric when determining the overall value of where one’s website fits into the pecking order, when it comes time to place it in the search results.

So What Is PageRank Exactly?

The second part of answering this question needs to cover what PR is and how it is calculated. PageRank is one of the methods used by Google to determine the page’s relevance or importance, when it comes to search engine results.

PageRank, named after Larry Page, one of the Google founders, represents the page rank of a page on a website. The system ranks sites from 0 – 10, with a site like Google or Youtube being a 10 and a brand new website with no one linking to it, a zero.

When it comes to raising a website’s PR one needs to be gaining links or backlinks from a site with a high PR, for example a PR6 or PR7. Some of the web authority is transferred to a site by the calculations checking what other higher authority sites are linking to it. This has been a way in the past for SEO practioners to manipulate a site’s ability to rank, so when these numbers began to be outdated, it made it more difficult to find the value of a linking partner.

There are new metrics in place DA or Domain Authority and TF, Trust Flow and Citation Flow CF that have essentially replaced the old gauge of PR. This is just not the same as Google not using PR anymore. It is just that they have removed this metric from the public eye.

Your website still has a PR and so do all your internal pages, it is just that you don’t know what this is anymore.

New Ways Of Discovering Your Page Rank [sic]

With the new ways of calculating the value or authority of a website working just as well, Google have not been able to kill SEO just yet. PR is now out of sight but is still alive and very important when it comes to the search results and where you fit in. SEO is not dead, just more difficult to do than once it used to be. You only need to take a close look at the knowable metrics behind top ranking websites today, to understand what this exactly means.

If you are in need of an SEO expert to independently look at your site or your competitors site(s), then it may be time we spoke. With the right tools and understanding the whole process of what is working today and is going to continue to work with SEO, formulating an effective SEO strategy is still the best way to be getting your message out there, to your target audience.

My SEO Company Says Backlinks Are No Longer Important, Are They Telling The Truth?

If you ever hear this line from your SEO company, that “backlinks are no longer important“, then you are probably facing the “we aren’t ranking so well” dilemma at the same time.

Since the beginning of search and Google, backlinks have played the most important part of winning at the search game. Over the years, the elements that determine a top ranking, have swollen to include a lot of closer focus with the website itself but backlinks remain and as long as Google wants to function as democratic voting process of presenting the most popular sites at the top, then backlinks are here to stay.

So what exactly are backlinks and how do they work to produce top rankings for websites?

Good question.

What Is A Backlink?

Let’s begin with how they work and then we will have a deeper insight as to their co-dependence for quality search results and how they will be remaining a strong ranking signal for the foreseeable future.

A backlink is simply a link from someone else’s website, linking to your website. The way this works for example is someone may comment on a blog post on a third party website and make a mention about something posted on your website.

This can be helpful for people wanting to find out more about the topic of interest.

For example you may be an experienced plastic surgeon who has expertise in some new cosmetic procedure or have a good understanding of the complications of certain surgical procedures and your blog post adds great insight into the matters being discussed.

Since people are searching for information to solve their problems, this scenario presents itself as a typical way that links or backlinks are created. Google developed their search algorithm around the democratic voting system that links from other people’s website were acting as. With links counting as votes in the election process for who should be ranked at #1 and so, they changed the way search engines and people the world over, searched for and found things on the internet forever.

It wasn’t long before many savvy webmasters began to take advantage of this ranking method and the process of SEO or search engine optimization was born.

Backlinks Important In The Early Days And Still So

In the early days of my trade it was a simple process to rank #1, that involved amassing more backlinks than the guy ranked at #2. Yes it did involve a lot of work at times but if you put in the grunt work, eventually got you there.

Now Google saw that many people were onto their “super secret” algorithm, so they decided to mix up the process to penalize anyone seen to be over-optimizing their sites. The first of these changes rolled out in 2012 and were code named Penguin.

Fast forward to today, 2016 and Google have slowed down the aggressive penalties, as most people are now convinced that the search engine giant, can’t be messed with. There are many who believe that SEO is dead and you might as well give up trying anything as Google will just slap you sooner or later.

SEO Far From Dead

In reality, SEO is far from dead and many people understand and do SEO very well. The problem is there is great confusion in the SEO world, and many practitioners have jumped ship and become content marketers. Some have combined the two with varying degrees of success, which usually has a lot to do with the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Google are very vocal about what you can and can’t do when it comes to SEO. Companies that tread the line strictly by the Google book, are those who will convince you that backlinks are no longer important, simple because Google say that you can’t build backlinks anymore. They want you to create great content and then some how magically people will find your content and link to it. The only problem is that without any links to your “great content” it is not going to rank. And if it doesn’t rank, meaning no one will find it, then how is it that they are going to link to it?

Agencies that stick by the book believe the lies about backlinks not counting, because they will actually not be building you any. They will encourage or help you build quality content but this alone is never going to produce the traffic that your site is needing to actually shift the needle.

Also with the right tools, anyone can see that the sites that are ranking at the top of Google are sites that have lots of backlinks. Content alone is not enough to get you there and give you the traffic flow you are looking for.

So What Do Google Actually Say About The Necessity Of Backlinks?

In finally smashing the backlinks are no longer important myth, one need only to listen to voice of Google themselves. In a recent video by the Google SEO spokesperson, Matt Cutts, they openly admit that they have a private version of Google that they refer to that shows the search results without any backlinking influence and they say it ain’t pretty.

Well there you have it, backlinks are here to stay and if you hear differently, it is probably because your SEO guy or gal is too scared to build them anymore. There are still ways to build backlinks that are very effective and will not get you into any Google hot water,  and if top search engine rankings are what you are looking for, then you first need to locate a top SEO consultant who can produce results based on what Google actually allow to rank, and not what they tell you they allow.


It’s About Your SEO, We Need To Talk

You have that nervous feeling deep down in the pit of your stomach.

You don’t quite know what to do about the cause of this pain but you know something has to be done, as things are just not going according to plan.

If you are like the many, you’re not alone when it comes to trying to figure out if you are doing the right thing, the wrong thing or something in between with SEO.

Company after company approach you with the same old line, “We can get you to number one on Google, but you will have to wait 3 to 6 months, and no we don’t offer a guarantee”.

Truth be told, it is amazing anybody is able to sell a product on these flimsy promises, but what is not quite so amazing is the fact the there an unfortunate number of charlatans in the industry that make the rare seo winner’s hard to find.

Unethical SEO companies that are all too willing to pull wool over their clients eyes, for the simple fact that they can. This is a really dangerous situation if you are committing not only time and money to dodgy SEO but the very existence of your business could be held in the balance if you have all your marketing eggs in the one basket.

Most smart marketers are all too aware of taking such a risky line with something as volatile as search engine optimization, especially given the heavy handedness of Google in recent times. So not only do many find themselves in SEO limbo, bending over backwards to make it under the ever lowering bar but on top of that they are paying for Google Adwords traffic by paying ultra-high cost per click premiums. Any industry that has a high dollar value on a successful sale, is liable to reach the dizzy heights of sometimes hundreds of dollars for just one click.

The medical industry is one such arena where the CPC’s can run into the hundreds of dollars. When you consider the cost of plastic surgery procedures running into the tens of thousands, it is easy to see why the CPC stakes are set so high.

So what is a good doctor to do?

You can keep on trying out different SEO companies in the hope that one day you will strike gold and not only will you be getting solid rankings that last, you can finally do away with those Adwords campaigns that are draining the coffers.

Yes and pigs might fly too!

What you need to gain back confidence in the incumbent SEO firm you have hired, is to have a truly independent analyst look over what is being done. By getting a third party to take a look behind the scenes and spell out exactly what the prospects of catching the flying pig are, is your only true hope of losing that awkward lump from your stomach. You can’t afford to ask the incoming SEO firm to be independent or even the outgoing, so your only choice is someone who has a fresh set of eyes, that can actually see and interpret what is going on with your current SEO deployment.

What you don’t need however is one of those highly confusing (intentional once again) extremely detailed double-dutch reports that SEO companies throw at you with the hope of confusing you into making a decision to go with them. These reports can look pretty dire at times and the shear fear factor is sometimes too much to resist.

Someone who can spell it out in plain English, is what you need. Enough evidence to hang or hang-onto the current SEO firm or consultant.

The endeavor of this blog is to use my skills that I have honed over the past 7 years, working with a good number of plastic and cosmetic surgeons in the US and Canada, to open peoples eyes so that they can see exactly what is going on with their SEO.

Some would call me an SEO whistle blower, and they would be pretty close to the mark. I am going to be blowing the lid off of all the SEO scams out there, so that regular folks no longer need feel pressured into hiring poorly when it comes to search engine optimization.

I will be showing you how to use the available tools, to see for yourself exactly what is going on with that top competitor who is getting all the free organic search engine traffic.

Believe me there are some really good SEO’s that deliver the goods and have the track record to prove it, and these I will be showing you how to find.

In the coming new year, 2016 I will available for hire, to do the undercover SEO discovery work on your website that will reveal the truth about your SEO, so you can move forward with confidence that you are on the right path, and it is just a matter of time, or finally see you are on a slowly sinking ship that you need to bail out from.

We all know there are some really terrible SEO’s and perhaps one of them has snared you, if this is the case, then we need to talk and really soon.