Up until fairly recently, many small businesses have begun to look at search engine optimization services as uniform and generic services that you can buy from just about anyone who knows how to make a link. In other words, SEO services have become a commodity-something fairly indistinguishable since a link is a link. Indeed, the proliferation of many bargain-basement link building service exchanges and platforms support this idea of a ‘commodified’ SEO services market. The only difference between the different backlink providers was the price. Given this development, SEO services have become a race to the bottom as more and more backlink builders, keyword researchers, and online marketing services companies enter the market and compete on price.
The real reason why SEO service pricing crashed
Since pricing is the primary way many of these newer SEO companies could compete, many outfits sought to maximize their labor costs by employing software to create backlinks. This automated system, often through blog comments, article submissions, and private blog network guest posts, is the primary way many SEO companies reduce their pricing. Considering the huge scale involved, there is often very little quality control involved. How can there be? If a human operator has to double check and fix the results of software-created links, the typical SEO company’s costs go through the roof Sadly, since the price of backlinks and other SEO-related work crashed through the floor due to automation, many small-business owners began to assume that backlinks are commodities and are pretty much the same regardless of who they got the service from. What mattered were old metrics like Page Rank of link sources and, of course, the price per link. Up until fairly recently, it was safe to subscribe to this thinking-then Penguin happened.
Post-Penguin wakeup call
The seemingly unstoppable march of the global SEO market to a commodity model was stopped in its tracks with the release of Penguin 1.0 and Penguin 2.0. By punishing slopping anchor linking practices and policing link sources, Google made it clear to the world that links are not commodities. Where, how, and increasingly why you got your backlink matters tremendously. Many small businesses saw their sales crash as they disappeared from the first few pages of Google due to their SEO companies’ sloppy and commodity-driven link building practices.
Old tricks no longer work
While Penguin is the biggest example of Google’s crackdown on ‘over optimization,’ Google has also made smaller changes like turning off the default advantage of domain names that contain exact search terms. All these changes add up to one key message business owners should realize: old SEO tricks no longer work. SEO is no longer mechanical, automatic, or formula-driven. Instead, Google’s changes and anticipated future moves are driving home one consistent message: SEO must be driven by building trust, relationships, and quality content. In short, instead of your online marketing company focusing on ‘building’ backlinks, it should work on positioning your online presence in such a way other trusted sites will link to you voluntarily. The old days of building links have given way to a quality-focused approach of earning links instead. In short, SEO companies would do well to focus less on tricks and automation and more on helping their clients build solid online brands.