Austrian university student, Brigitte Dietachmair, conducted a survey on the SEO and Link Building Trends 2009 in German speaking countries. The study showed some interesting results: the importance of natural Link Building, the partly copious search for Back Links and the question if SEO has a conscience.
My interest for SEO and Link Building started with my practical training. I was doing the bachelor programme for E-Business and last semester I worked for an Irish company that specialized in SEO and Link Building for their own sites. I had only taken a single course on Online Marketing before and went to Ireland mainly because of my love for traveling.
I wanted to know how the SEO experts see their Link Building activities and that’s why I decided to conduct a study on this issue. The link to the survey was posted on various Online Marketing and SEO blogs, in the Abakus forum and on Twitter. To my delight, 108 people completely filled out the questionnaire – the majority of the participants is working in SEO and is doing Link Building for many different industries.
60% of the participants are full-time SEOs and 15% just see their SEO activities as hobby. According to the study, the industries that take out most SEO measures are Business/Finance/Insurance, IT/Tech and Travel/Tourism.
91% of the participants in the survey are building links – this is a good indicator for the importance of backlinks. But it was surprising that more than a half of the persons that don’t do active Link Building are full-time SEOs. So it’s hard to tell what their alternative strategy is – probably relevant and fresh content which attracts links to a site.
All of the active Link Builder (except for one) are not only linking to the main page but also on subpages of a website. Overall, 53% of the links go to start pages and 47% are built to subpages. This shows that natural link building is taken seriously by most of the SEOs.
About half of the SEOs said that they are sometimes or even regularly buying backlinks. Most of the time, links from satellite pages are offered in return for a backlink. In the survey, 21% have never offered links on satellite pages. This could be due to the fact that Google might discover the satellite network and penalize the sites. You could avoid this problem by building a huge network of independent pages or offering other services in exchange for a link.
88% do Google research to find Back Links, 72% do Back Links research, e.g. on competitors’ websites. I was shocked that 83% of the participants use the “link:” search query in Google to find backlinks. It’s a well-known fact that Google doesn’t list all backlinks and the operator can’t be used with others (e.g. to exclude the website you are searching, …). I can’t really understand why so many are still using this operator because Yahoo provides more complete results. Additionally, there are also various backlinks tool that can be used for this purpose. Convenience or laziness shouldn’t be reasons for using Google for backlinks search. About 30% of the SEOs are looking for links on linkbuy or link exchange sites. This strategy shouldn’t be used excessively since Google prohibits these forms of link acquisition in its Webmaster Guidelines.
Another exciting finding of the study is that many of the participants prefer Mozilla Firefox over Internet Explorer. 96% use Firefox, 4% Opera – AND: no one uses IE! This is probably due to the fact that Firefox supports lots of SEO browser plug-ins. The SEO tool Sistrix for which you have to pay a subscription fee is the most commonly used tool amongst the participants, probably because they are all from German speaking countries like Germany or Austria.
And … The Page Rank loses importance indeed. Links are valuable when they are placed in relevant content and have natural and varying anchortexts. 70% of the participants in the survey think that anchortext variations are important since using the same anchortext too often can lead to a Google penalty. This fact was also found in other studies (e.g. SEOmoz).
Do I have own sites? I was thinking about that but I wanted to go in another direction and didn’t make one. SEO needs a lot of time and efforts and I want to have time for other activities. But it’s important to gain some experience that I can use for future jobs. The company I will work for surely won’t spend thousands of Euros to find out that have not enough Back Links.
One personal wish that I want to direct to the SEOs and SEO agencies: Be fair and ethical! Don’t make sites that you can’t take care of that just irritate the Google users. And maybe this statement could be used for the SEO industry: “Not the customer is king but the good conscience!” Maybe not every client is worth working for. In this regard I am thinking of sites build up of keywords lacking relevant and useful content that are top ranking in the Google search results – and there are a lot of them around. Money is important but you sleep better with a good conscience!
This article is an overview of the “SEO Survey 2009″ conducted by Brigitte Dietachmair, E-Business student at the Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences in Steyr. If you want to know more about this study you can find the entire paper here (in German!).
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