During my participation at the Pubcon SFIMA Conference in Fort Lauderdale last week, William Leake mentioned something that I have not realized before. In fact, it’s probably my biggest takeaway from that conference:
With the latest round of algorithm updates in the past two years, Google has brought back search engine optimization to the United States.
Wait. What?!? How’s that?
Before the Google Penguin algorithm existed, and before article writing & guest blog posting was penalized, many website owners outsourced their SEO. And this outsourcing was done because it was cheap. When you outsourced your link building, you got cheap, low quality links. You got hundreds or thousands of ‘directory’ links. You got articles written and posted on article sites. Much of this low quality SEO was automated, and that’s why it was so cheap. Employees from India and the Philippines were trained to run software that created thousands of low quality links to websites. But, even though it was cheap, you got good search engine rankings. And that’s why many SEO firms in the United States outsourced their work to companies outside the United States.
But when Google Penguin came along, penalizing low quality links from directories and article sites (just to name a few), and now when recently Google has penalized guest blog posts, the cheap outsourced SEO that you did is now something that got your site penalized. Now, companies are having to back-track and get these low quality cheap links removed from sites. And, SEO firms in the USA are no longer outsourcing SEO and link building work to companies overseas.
Pre- Google Penguin, there was a lot of SEO work being outsourced. It was cheap and it was effective. But now, all that SEO work is back in the United States, with SEO companies actively doing the work. The emphasis is on Content Marketing and Media Outreach, as well as Blogger Outreach: something that can’t easily be outsourced to companies in India and in the Philippines.
In the past two years, the role of link building has evolved into more of a role of link earning. As an SEO, my emphasis, like many other SEOs I talk to on a regular basis, has evolved into more of a public relations and content marketing role than simply someone who is “getting links” for a client. Sure, I can go out and get you 500 links tomorrow. Or maybe even 1,000 links this month. But that’s not going to be effective, and the links aren’t going to bring you traffic to your website. In fact, you’ll probably get slapped with a Google penalty. What’s important to focus on, though, is acting more like a public relations agency, where our SEO agency develops relationships with media outlets who will cover your story, cover your business, and mention your website: that’s what will bring traffic and sales. And, frankly, I don’t feel like I can outsource that work to someone outside of the United States.
At this point, the only work that I can see being effectively outsourced is the outreach to website owners: to get low quality links removed. Sure, I’m maybe being too optimistic about SEO coming back to the United States, but Bill Leake’s statement last week sure got me thinking. And, frankly, I’m happy that Google has brought SEO back to the United States.