A word from Bartosz Góralewicz:
Today, it is with huge pleasure that I publish an extremely interesting article from a good friend of mine – Tomasz Wydra. Asides being a Google Top Contributor; he is also a real SEO expert. I am also happy to share this article because all Tomasz managed to explain here, are the core issues which made me focus my attention more on foreign markets.
It has been a year since Penguin 2.1 and Polish SEO was never going to be the same again.
The Google update of October 4, 2013 changed the situation of the Polish SEO Market. Penguin 2.1 affected not just the (expected) 1%, but around 20% of Polish websites and became the main reason why agencies decided to invest in modern marketing as it relates to search engines.
Penguin 2.1 caused many changes on the Polish market.
Let me recall that Penguin 2.1 affected about 1% of the total search results globally. This was actually covered by the official Matt Cutts statement from the 4th of October 2013.
In fact, in the English-speaking market, that alteration was massive, but it was nothing close to what happened in Poland. It is estimated that the update had an effect to the tune of about 20 – 25% of all the total search results.
This is what the Polish SEO looked like before October 2013.
At the end of 2013 in Poland, the most conventional methods of positioning worked perfectly:
Rotation and permanent link exchange systems
Penguin 2.1 massively decreased the efficiency of the Polish Link Networks: e-weblink.com (rotation system), gotlink.pl (rotation system) and seomatik.pl (permament system).
Massive directory submissions
Public and private networks managed by SEOKatalog script. We can safely say that these became almost 100% non-efficient and harmful for SEO after Penguin 2.1.
Adding articles to the presell pages
Publishing articles from content generators on citizen journals with randomly placed links (usually 1 or 2 with exact matching anchor texts).
Building pyramids with links
This happened by using commonly available microblogs and free hosting services.
SEO in Poland was nothing short of gaining the highest number of links possible, in the shortest amount of time without any strategy.
Having 1000 – 2000 clients was nothing unusual among large Polish SEO agencies. Just as an average of 500 – 800 referring domains for “plumber Warsaw” wasn’t unusual.
Does Poland lag behind the United States in standards?
Asides all the changes already implemented by Google globally, the Polish SEO industry still needs a lot of catching up when compared with such developed markets as the United States.
The awareness of clients from the US, who want to be visible and mark their presence on the web is much higher than in Poland. These companies are evolving with new trends touching on SEO and SEM topics, while also effectively verifying offers made by companies that can influence their businesses on Google, Bing and Yahoo.
In Poland, the awareness of how search engines work and the kind of SEO techniques particular specialists use, still leaves a lot to be desired.
The standard of work is also different; many Polish companies cannot be proud of a satisfactory level of experience with running marketing campaigns in search engines, that is why all the competencies connected with this are delegated to external agencies (it is applied to small companies, as well as medium and large ones).
In the United States, SEO is a component of some broader strategy. However, the processes are conducted within the company, leaving typical agency services as clearly visible and marked.
Different standards apply to different market share in the search engines niche. Therefore, even if Google dominates, a part of the market is still shared by Bing and Yahoo search engines.
In Poland, on the contrary, all efforts are only centered around rewarding results from Google, while the others are ignored.
Negative opinion about Polish SEO is an effect of many years of failure.
The bad reputation of Polish SEO specialists is an effect of long-term investments in techniques which aim to manipulate Google search results, rather than create quality value to businesses and their brands.
As I have mentioned at the beginning of the article, Polish agencies successfully used some gaps in algorithms, which for many years allowed them to gain satisfactory results. Working as a White Hat SEO is something that 90% of the Polish SEO community wouldn’t accept 2 years ago (it is getting a little bit better nowadays). Believe it or not, to this day, using the disavow file is seen in a really bad light as “working on Google’s side” and is discouraged by many SEOs.
The major part is that of specialists who focus on gaining mass links from some random sites, without realizing the opportunities possible from a wider marketing concept. In effect, spam has grown at the same proportion as the position increases in search results. This also influences the negative opinion about the Polish SEO market.
What’s next for Polish SEO?
Before the Penguin 2.1 update, concepts like inbound marketing, content marketing and building content around brands, services and products in Google searches were not only foreign to many SEO freelancers; many leading Polish SEO agencies weren’t doing the right thing either.
The increasing effort on the part of freelancers and SEO agencies, and also the understanding that search engines are complementary elements in running wide-ranging marketing actions, could be a turning point where these previously spammy methods become abandoned for legal ones conforming with Google guidelines.