Do you want to know the methods that some agencies use to trick their clients? In this episode of Coach Yu, Dennis discusses some of these SEO hacks with Nicholas Rubright, CEO of New Reach Marketing and an expert in SEO, Digital PR, and Link Building.
What are the ways SEO is used to fool people?
One way of faking it is by filtering for domain authority on the front end.
People can own a bunch of websites and link things together. Anyone can use relationships and high backlinks. If you buy a bunch of backlinks, the domain authority will inflate because it is measured by third-party tools such as Ahrefs and Moz which are not as advanced as Google.
Google has a paid link submission form where people can report domains. A lot of link builders use this, and it leaves buyers wondering how Google knows.
Dennis adds that Google even knows about those private link networks. If the search engines don’t do anything about it, it is not because they don’t know. They know!
When You Get Caught
Nick says that search engines don’t do anything when you get caught. They just count it as zero instead of doing negative. If Google knows about the paid links, even if the domain authority looks good, their measure of that won’t be good.
Google Doesn’t Care About Backlinks
Dennis adds that Google doesn’t care so much about backlinks. They care about the traffic and the user experience. If people are ranking on terms that nobody’s searching for, Google doesn’t care. They only care about the Top 10 results on high-power terms as determined by RankBrain.
They’re looking at the signals that come through Google Analytics, user behavior, click back, and dwell time. They care about the user experience more than the ranking. You’ll keep moving up the rankings if your stats are good.
Google also looks at social although they won’t admit it. They’re also looking at the traffic.
Google Bowling is when people buy crappy links for a competitor to try to hurt them. People are getting hurt by SEOs who are trying to bowl or do negative SEO against competitors. A disavow request can fix that.
Information should be free, and SEO should not include paid. That’s not just because of Google’s Terms of Service but because it’s fundamentally wrong to pay for links.Dennis Yu
Competitors Are Your Friends
Anyone who’s a competitor is a friend because you’re going to link to each other since you both share expertise. Dennis is not trying to beat the competition. They’re linking to him, and he’s linking to them. It’s more commonly known as syndication.
According to Nick, page authority can also be hacked with the internal links and the link-buying to direct pages. If people cannot hack domain authority, they’ll try hacking the traffic, but who measures traffic? Ahrefs, Moz, and other similar tools measure traffic.
All you have to do is to figure out how it works, and when you figure it out, you can manipulate the data going into it. Ahrefs, for example, calculates traffic numbers based on a combination of the search volume and clickthrough rate studies of Google listings.
They can artificially inflate their organic traffic metrics at the domain level by building crappy pages for random keywords that have insane search volume and low difficulty.
Dennis argues that if you don’t have much authority and you build these pages for high-traffic terms, why would that even matter? You couldn’t even get the traffic in the first place. It could be against the topics that you’re trying to rank on.
Nick explains that although you’ll be on page 3, you’ll get the number that sells to the link buyers. This is so attractive to people buying backlinks because they want to fulfill the order just like how a McDonald’s worker wants to give the customer a sandwich.
There’s so much pressure on link builders to hit the target numbers. There’s no outreach technique in the world that would get a hundred-dollar backlink.
Building Relationships Is the Way To Go
It is possible to do SEO in an area where you don’t have any subject matter expertise and relationships if you have the money to spend because you could just hire for subject matter expertise and relationships.
But then, it is also possible to do that by building relationships. It’s all about listening and understanding the other person because people are bad at listening. If you could do that, you have a way in. Showing kindness and listening are enough to develop relationships.
Dennis explains that SEO is about building relationships and delivering value and a great experience to your clients. It’s a combination of social media, PR, word-of-mouth, and all these other things that work together to build value for a community.
Building relationships is building links, and it eventually gets seen by Google. Most SEOs think that it’s a technical thing while most people who want SEO think it’s all about buying links. It’s not. The search engines are getting so smart that they can see through that behavior.
AI Content Writing
There is a lot of AI content writing going on these days. Many people are good at selling because they know the subject matter, but for some reason, the content is not there for some agencies.
The content portion of SEO is very interesting and hard to explain. It’s often a misunderstood concept. Clients seem to think if you publish more content about a topic, the page will rank higher.
A client that targets CBD oil wants more CBD content because he wants to rank for CBD oil. That’s not really how it works. If you want to rank for CBD oil, you need to build that page for that keyword and have supporting content. It’s all going to be strategic.
Publish case studies and statistics roundups so that you market your content to journalists and attract backlinks. You can attract content by building linkable assets such as infographics and other stuff that people can use in their content. That gets the backlinks that help your website.
A lot of content farms sell 2,500-word blog posts because that’s the magic number that helps you rank at the top. However, is it engaging? Does it help the reader? Is the content good for that keyword? Does it fulfill the search intent?
Do you want your website to rank higher? Read “8 Google Signals to Increase your Website Ranking” to get a better understanding of what Google is looking for.
Most people don’t get what search intent means, so you have to figure out other ways to say it. It’s not that clients are being scammed. It’s just that the buyer and the seller don’t know the value of content as far as SEO is concerned. They just don’t understand.
The buyer and seller are both buying and selling content, hoping the page will rank better.
How to Not Get Scammed
The way to avoid being scammed is to have measurements based on business results. If you’re trying to rank on CBD oil, you can see how much traffic comes in organically and results in a sale. It doesn’t matter how many checklists you have or how many articles you have.
The agency could agree to produce a hundred articles per month, but if it doesn’t drive rankings to turn in the traffic that turns in the sales, then it’s garbage. People are so misinformed on the client side and the agency side because they’re not looking at the actual business results.
Read “Watch out for fraudulent SEO experts” to get better at spotting SEO frauds.
Setting the Expectations Right From the Start
If clients are misinformed, they may start asking for a lot of things. If you train the client and set the right expectations at the beginning, they shouldn’t even have to ask you for a report.
They just need to log into Google Analytics or Shopify, which has conversion tracking enabled, and they can see exactly what’s happening. They can use the SEO tools to see where the links are coming from and the pages that are doing well, and they can see what the related searches are.
Clients should know well enough that they don’t have to be an SEO, but they need to know the concept and strategy well enough to be able to tell whether what you are doing is working. The client should define what the business goal is right from the start.
Without the general business strategy in place, it won’t matter how good you are at building relationships and links. It has nothing to do with reports, and it has nothing to do with showing the client what the different components of SEO are.
Get measurable sales numbers, which should be trackable inside Google Analytics or whatever SEO tool you use so that when you’re building links and writing content, they can see the direct impact of what you’re doing.
Read “How BlitzMetrics helped me see the light on SEO investment” to see how transparency is important in the business of SEO.
If you want your pages to rank better without being scammed, we can help you. Let us know!
About the Author
You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.
You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.