LogoGarden is a DYI logo maker platform, where anyone can create logos easily from a library of elements, and recently they got kicked way back in search results for their primary keywords:  Logo Design, Logo Maker and Logo Creator.

In a blog post, Negative SEO  Victim  Strikes Back, John Williams goes on to explain how his website was “Google Bowled,” which means that someone paid to create low quality backlinks for logogarden.com in order to spam it and push it back in search results.

That’s one opinion as to what brought their website down on Google, and it might be  absolutely  correct. BUT, I do have an opinion of my own on how LogoGarden’s misdirected marketing budget led to their SEO demise.

UPDATE: John Williams left an excellent reply comment with additional information on this situation and my remarks. See comments for the reply, and don’t forget to add your 2 cents to the conversation.

Misdirected online marketing budget

In a comment reply on that post, Williams explained what his marketing expenses were:

LogoGarden Marketing Expenses

So, they were paying SlingShotSEO (their SEO firm) $10,000/mo to build backlinks. White hat only, no link buying.

Next, $1500/day went on AdWords. This would be an excellent investment, but it was poorly executed. See Mistake #6.

Lastly, they spent $50k on “optimizing our site.” Honestly, a well developed free WordPress theme has better on-page optimization than LogoGarden website.

After I reviewed their website, and did some searching around – I couldn’t believe that what I found was worth $100k. That’s why I wanted to touch upon their mistakes, I’m certain, led to their SEO demise in whole or in part.

Mistake #1: Very poor on-page optimization

LogoGarden’s pages and blog posts lack H2 and H3 tags. Not all pages, but all blog posts lack at least H2 tag. The blog post title is H1, they did get this one right. But the sub-headings use <strong> rather than H2 or H3, and lack keywords.

Sub-headings should definitely be either H2 or H3, and the keywords in the text body should get emphasis with bold,  italicized, or underlined styling.

Blog posts do not have any images, just blocks of text. File names and alt tags provide additional opportunity to add a keyword, plus they do add a visual cue to help make reading less daunting and engage readers.

Mistake #2: Lack of quality fresh content

45 undated posts about logo design is not quality content. It’s pretty clear they were written with SEO, not customers in mind.

If LogoGarden spent even a fraction of what they spent on SEO and Adwords on producing valuable content they would be better off, and I’m certain they would not be in this predicament.

Not only do you use content to rank for your keywords and get Google love, but you also become thought leader in your industry – attracting more visitors and converting them to loyal customers.

Backlinks and AdWords campaigns come and go, suck up way too much of your marketing budget, and do not provide value to your customers. If you focus on producing valuable content, SEO takes care of itself – and you build relationships with your customers before they even know they are your customer.

If only businesses realized how important content marketing strategy is, we’d live in a better world.

[tweet]Building backlinks should spice up your marketing like pepper, not be the whole freaking entree. – Click to Tweet[/tweet]

In addition, Google likes fresh content. Removing date from the blog post doesn’t make it fresh. Google knows, don’t mess with the big G. In their eyes, LogoGarden has no value.

Mistake #3: Working with a secretive SEO firm

I did request a list of links that SlingShot secured for LogoGarden. They would not supply the links because they said it was against their policy. I was not happy with this.

SlingshotSEO did not want to disclose what backlinks they got for LogoGarden, clearly they have something to hide. What’s so important about those links?

When your client goes from SEO hero to a zero on your watch, you better be doing everything in your power to either show the client that you had no control over what happened or taking full responsibility for it.

If SlingshotSEO had nothing to do with LogoGarden’s demise, why not make the client happy by overlooking your so called policy and show him every single link you’ve built? After all, it is your reputation that is at stake.

NOTE: SlingshotSEO does good work for their clients, but their secretive policy makes me question their practices, especially in this case.

Mistake #4: Tracking SEO firm’s progress

Here’s what I see, tell me what you see:

Google Backlinks

I see 37 results of backlinks that Google sees.

Is that what $10,000/mo gets you these days?

Alexa has a different number, but really, who cares about Alexa?

What do you see here?

Bing Index

One result? Are you kidding me? That’s how many pages Bing indexed.

Bing just increased their market share in the US to 18.3% in April of 2012, according to Compete data. It’s not as big as Google, but it is still a very sizable portion. Plus, Bing’s major benefit is its social search integrated with Facebook. You really should be there!

My point is this, what in the world are you paying for?

Yes, they did help you get to #6 for your keyword, but with what methods? They didn’t expect Panda update, it took them by surprise while annihilating your website.

If you’re paying someone to deliver results, do ask for progress and methods used to deliver those results. It is your business’ reputation that is at stake here, protect it.

Mistake #5: Hidden text in source code

This might be a mistake on their part, as it seemed to be a popup of some sort. But I’ve looked, and looked, and looked, but could not find any links that activate it. So, in my humble opinion it’s hidden text that Google will frown upon.

Hidden Text

It was a pop up, but now there are no links to activate it.

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that this was a mistake in removing a package they were offering some time ago. But it is in source code on all pages, hidden, with no way for people to see. You just don’t know what the next Google update might bring.

Mistake #6: PPC investment down the drain

They spent $1,500/day on AdWords advertising. That’s $45k/mo. It’s a hefty investment, but I wonder if they are able to recover that investment every month with new orders. My guess? Not.

Honestly, I would like to slap whoever is doing their PPC campaigns and wasting thousands of dollars. What are they doing wrong?

I checked different ads, and they ALL go to the homepage. Really? Why don’t you just start throwing money out of the window like that Russian millionaire. That’s really what you’re doing when your PPC ads are going to general site pages instead of highly targeted and optimized landing pages.

Mistake #7: Not having  comprehensive  online marketing plan

Based on the post and what they were paying for, LogoGarden was trying to game the system by building links and using some mediocre content targeted for the keywords, and heavily relying on Adwords (with an incompetent campaign manager).

An effective and comprehensive online marketing plan addresses all 5 activities.

  1. Content marketing – writing valuable content in a form of blog posts, content pages, landing pages, multimedia and downloadables (ebooks, white papers, etc.).
  2. SEO – on-page and off-page, complementing content marketing strategy.
  3. Email Marketing – lead nurturing campaigns/autoresponders and timely newsletters or email blasts.
  4. Social media – monitoring, engaging, curating, and customer service.
  5. PPC – if budget allows, Adwords, Facebook ads, Linkedin ads, etc.

The most successful businesses are the ones that are able to combine all 5 elements to align them with business goals and begin attracting customers and clients consistently. These businesses do not worry about Google updates, because their valuable content is read and seen by thousands of people, linked to by thousands of websites, and they are a true thought leader in their industry.

That’s my opinion on the matter. Even if LogoGarden did get spammed with backlinks, it doesn’t make up for these mistakes, especially the grotesque PPC mistake.

What do you think?