Is SEO Still Worthwhile? – An Interview With Avid Amiri, SEO Consultant
It is a sunny afternoon in downtown Salt Lake City, and I am sitting at a coffee shop enjoying a cold drink. I have a chance to interview one of the top SEO Industry experts in this part of the country, Avid Amiri. Avid is a Cornell MBA graduate who spends much of his time tutoring entrepreneurs and helping them to achieve internet success. At the end of my last sip I begin asking Avid about the latest changes in the industry and how to avoid making some common online mistakes. I also asked about how to achieve top positions in the search engines for websites.
Avid Amiri: The SEO Industry in 2016
Luis: There have been a number of major algorithmic changes in the past several years that have disrupted SEO for many websites. Is SEO still worthwhile? Can you speak to this changing landscape and the value of optimization going forward?
Avid: I have heard quite a few web entrepreneurs balk at the value of SEO in today’s landscape. While I agree that other forms of online marketing such as social media marketing etc. have become more important over the years there is still a valuable role for SEO in reliable traffic generation. I have reviewed tips and strategies for SEO in other articles I have authored that are available online and on my blog and informational websites.
Luis: There has been discussion recently about disputes between website owners, SEO and copyright laws. Some of these have resulted in lawsuits or litigation. What are thoughts on this subject?
Avid: In terms of the legality of taking content from other websites, this is obviously not something you should ever do. This also represents an ethical violation. There was one litigation I read about in Salt Lake City, Utah on this matter and the vast majority of cases are generally very clear as copyright law is unambiguous. While copyrights become valid through use, I suggest that website owners also file the legal copyrights on their material as well. In addition to the legal and ethical implications, however, there are additional SEO implications. In particular, Google will penalize sites that are responsible for posting duplicate content. Therefore, if Google has cached the content or recognizes it from another site before you (and in almost all cases) the site that originally published the content, your site will experience a penalty. In short, this is not something I would ever recommend. Develop your own well researched, quality content and be sure to provide citations to any online resources you may have used to help author your work. There are articles of how to compose well-constructed on my blog for those readers that would like additional direction with this.
Luis: While there are a series of different factors that are important in reviewing a potential web business for purchase, are there any specific items that you would recommend over others for first time investors?
Avid: As I have mentioned before, one important step in managing the purchase of any web business is gauging the strength of the web business in terms of its SEO strength. You certainly want to evaluate the strength of a websites rankings today but also in terms of how that site will rank long term. In particular, traffic is a key component of the value of the business and your goal is to ensure that this will be as reliable as possible after the business is conveyed.
It is worthwhile to evaluate the quality of the backlinks and directory links. I would ask the seller about their link building strategy and personally investigate if these are permanent links or if they are related to other sites owned by the seller. What you want to avoid is a situation of these links being pruned from the link partner sites after the sale is completed. Apart from that please assess whether the site is linking to spammy or penalized sites.
In other words, is the site linking to “bad neighborhoods” as this will have a negative impact of your site. A quick acid test to determine if a site has been blacklisted or is considered a negative link partner is to see if the site is blacklisted from the search engine and if it ranks for its own URL. The other items I would suggest that buyers evaluate is if the website is under threat of any lawsuits. You certainly do not want to inherit a business with trademark or copyright violations, legal entanglement with vendors or other trade partners or other lawsuits. You may want to include a provision in any purchase agreement that the previous owner will cover the cost to defend any lawsuits from issues arising during their tenure. Also they should provide confirmation that there are no threatened or pending legal actions associated with the business.
I would also suggest that a buyer conduct a full assessment of reviews associated with the site the vast of this information is available online. So for instance, if you are looking at a business based in Salt Lake City, Utah, I would check with the Department of Corporations to ensure the entity (or the LLC for which the entity is a DBA) is in good standing. I would also check to see if there are any complaints with the Utah branch of the Better Business Bureau. These are quick and easy things to check but will give you a lot of good information about the type of business you may be acquiring. Also I would advise reviewing sites like ResellerRatings and other to see what types of complaints may have been lodged against the company to get a sense for the operations management that may have been applied in past by previous owners and what kind of reputation the site has with consumers.