Yes – I went to BrightonSEO, didn’t I? and it was excellent so now have to write up my notes and what better place to do this than LIVE on my blog. I’ll pitch right in.
Ranking Factors – a problem… old links… in days gone by it was a great thing to have thousands of links to your website with little regard to the quality or relevancy, Google just figured that if you had links people liked you, so an entire industry was born. However, the system was easily gamed and websites were set up wholesale offering other websites links to their site. Google caught wind and hammered websites that chased these sorts of links and a lovely case study from Interflora who lost 80% of their rankings and traffic overnight after Penguin 4.0 was launched by Google a few years ago.
However, the updates from Google have been coming on strong every day, Google has, more or less, declared they won’t ever do a mass update again, instead they tweak their algorithms once or twice a day, this is known as Granular Penalisation. But it has a serious effect on websites where SEO is bad and where in the past a website might have attracted a lot of irrelevant links in particular.
Instead of a seeing an overnight drop in traffic, what you end up seeing is a granular reduction in organic traffic that is difficult to explain or that you might incorrectly put down to seasonality or some other cause. It looks like your website might be slow-dying… and sadly, I can think of a number of examples of websites we manage that might be affected by this.
Link Audits and comprehensive ones at that. We have the ability to tell Google to ‘ignore’ specific links or to contact webmasters of other websites to fix links to our websites. Even something as simple as switching from HTTP to HTTPS requires a full link audit.
In Search Console, we have the ability to disavow links – so if we’ve failed to contact a webmaster of another website we can simply disavow the link in Google.
However, the warning from Chris Cemper was simple… you cannot just check a percentage of your links, you have to check them all. If any websites have been marked as Malware or have problems – they will be acting against you negatively. And you need a way to do this regularly.
Also, absolutely essential is to work out where links on other people’s websites go to on yours. You might have old pages, non-existent news, products you no longer sell, you need to have a plan for where to point people.
So it is a simple but potential boring job, many websites have hundreds if not thousands of links to their website especially if they have been in business for a while.
Simply put if you have 500 links and on average each one sends you 2 visitors a month – that’s an extra 1000 clicks to the website a month… of ‘quality’ traffic – it is worth getting this right.