I make a living from internet marketing, however my background is actually in the business advice sector.
At the end of 2009 I was working in Norfolk in a social enterprise development job as well as offering SFEDI accredited business advice.This was the time of the Business Link voucher service and I was making good money which enabled me to leave my job to set up my own company and go independent.
After just three months of going solo, Business Link was scrapped,and my income went to zero! Even though the advice I was giving had value, I soon realised that the people I had been advising in early stage start-ups were would not become paying customers.
As such I was forced to re-skill and learn how to acquire paying customers. I taught myself web design and internet marketing and started picking up freelance clients.
After a couple of years of freelancing I set up my own digital marketing agency in Norwich in 2012 which predominantly offered search engine optimisation (SEO).
What is SEO?
SEO is about getting your web pages as high up in the organic(non-paid) Google search results as possible. It is about creating web pages that are highly relevant to search intent, and websites that are authoritative in the eyes of google.
There are over 200 different ranking factors with Google however links from relevant external sites are still the main metric for determining the authority of a domain.
As such, SEO agencies build links for clients in order to improve their search rankings.
But not all links are created equally link building is the dark side of the SEO industry. Many agencies will build spammy, manipulative links on non-genuine sites and will even use part of the budget you pay them to pay the websites to link to you.
As an agency owner who saw what other agencies were doing, I witnessed all of the unethical and potentially damaging tactics.
Choose Your SEO Agency Wisely
Companies I was picking as clients at the time were sharing horror stories of experiences with previous agencies. When I would look up their backlink profiles in software such as SEMrush or Ahrefs I would see a huge number of irrelevant and bad quality links their previous agencies had built.
These links are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines as they are intended to manipulate Google into thinking the site is more authoritative and useful than it really is. And this risks a manual google penalty that can result in your site being de-indexed(removed from Google’s search engine results).
The scary thing is this activity is what a lot of local SEO agencies still do in 2018.
To conduct SEO properly you need to focus on content marketing; creating unique and engaging content that is optimised for search traffic which will naturally attract links.
The reality is that this type of research and content creation requires a large budget, typically £2,000-£5000 a month, and most agencies in Suffolk or Norfolk do not have local clients that can afford to invest this amount in their search traffic.
As such agencies charge less and resort to cheaper tactics that are often manipulative.
I wanted no part of this and I now warn others about bad practices on my site as well as helping companies find a local agency that they can trust.
This article was submitted by Richard Patey
Founder, Startup Norfolk
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