But on occasion, even the best inbound marketers can – with the best will, knowledge and talent in the world, implement their inbound marketing strategy on a website, and see absolutely no results.
One such example was a recent client of ours, for whom we ran through the inbound playbook step-by-step, and saw almost no change to their site’s rankings or traffic.
Our strategy and the content plan seemed to be working well for our other customers, so why not this one?
After some digging, the first major issue we found was that their website wasn’t mobile responsive. Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm (or ‘Mobilegeddon’ to some) launched in April of last year, causing the visibility of non-responsive websites to plummet. The traffic data supported this, and getting the site mobile-friendly became priority one.
Responsive adjustments made and Googlebot happy, we kept a keen eye on the site’s analytics to see what kind of impact we’d made.
The short answer was: ‘we hadn’t.’
Baffled and frustrated, we dove deeper into why the site seemed to be so loathed by Google’s algorithm. A smattering of SEO blog posts pointed towards poor backlinks perhaps being responsible. So we fired up MOZ’s Open Site Explorer tool, to scour the web for any links pointing toward the site.
Sure enough, the results showed pages of poor quality directories with huge spam-scores; and blog comments with links surreptitiously embedded their content. With the culprits positively identified, we took to Google Webmaster Tools to disavow all but the most genuine and authoritative backlinks.
Confident we’d pulled the proverbial thorn from the website’s paw, we waited with bated breath for the next SERP report.
Nothing. Googlebot still hated us.
Dejected, we continued work on the site’s responsiveness when we stumbled on something strange. In order to work on the mobile responsive changes in relative safety, we’d copied the whole website onto a development server. During which, we noticed a handful of large and unusual files buried in the backend.
Originating from Russian IP addresses, the big and weird files and been placed to facilitate the addition of spam URLs. The links referenced pornography and Viagra sales (amongst other questionable content), and had been tactically hidden from view – but not before being indexed by Google.
Recognising the massively spammy links as part of the site, Google’s algorithm would continue to penalise us until every trace of the hack’s URLs had been removed. So that’s exactly what we did.
Files deleted, site clean, we waited again. And boy did we see some changes.
Tracked keywords were skyrocketing up the rankings, with jumps of up to 40 places apiece! And since then, the site’s visibility has continued to slowly climb upwards.
It’s said that a few months worth of spam, bad backlinks and just plain bad SEO on a website will take at least the same amount of time again to fix. But while progress is slow, we’re now working from a solid foundation.
The moral of the story here is that it’s ultimately pointless implementing inbound marketing work on a poor platform. Before you even consider blogging, creating content, and pushing your best material out onto the web, fix your website first.
Like the biblical tale of the of the man who built his house on sand, if you’re not working from a solid foundation, you’re just asking for your hard work to be washed away.
Why not let us take a look at your inbound marketing strategy for you and tell you exactly why it isn’t working! Get started below.
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