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SEO Case from Toronto

This is a free white paper about a Toronto heating and air conditioning (HVAC) company that hired our SEO Company to overcome the hurdles placed by their previous Canadian SEO firm that was based out of Toronto.

The client called was initially referred to us by another Husky breeder we have as a client in Toronto. He explained his dilemma to us. The Toronto SEO firm had convinced him that he had to use an exact match domain (EMD), which is basically a domain name that has the exact key phrase within that domain. Moreover the "Toronto SEO company" had required as part of the terms of the service that the exact match domain be hosted on their own servers. Finally, they had not provided our client with any way to access the site to make changes to it. Our Toronto client was completely reliant on his SEO Company to make any changes to the site. So if he wanted to add a testimonial, change some content, or add a new image; each such change would cost me more money. What concerned our client the most was the ever-increasing monthly fees that were being charged against him.

He said it started when he called the Toronto SEO company to complement them on their work. They asked him if he was getting any sales as a result, and he said yes, he added 8 new clients that month. The SEO Company in Toronto congratulated him and told him that it was going to cost a little bit more money each month, as their prices had increased. That little increase was a 50% hike. Our client called his former SEO Company to protest that charge. They told him, he had two options; they can take the site down or keep paying the rate. He liked his rankings, but he didn't like the fact that the Toronto SEO firm was holding him hostage. He then started to ask around for another SEO Company and found us. During that interim, his site's rankings dropped significantly. He felt that was retribution for his protest. However, we explained to him that they would never do that as long as he was paying, and he was. So we dug further for him. In the interim, upon our client's request, we optimized his main site for him, and we insisted that he not give us any FTP information. We advised him that we will email him custom on-site optimization instructions for his site, and told him not to be afraid of making changes himself to his own site, as long as he had a back-up of his files, it would behoove him to learn to depend on himself to make simple changes. We now have the client's main site ranked prominently on all major search engines.

Here is what we learned:

Google had changed its algorithm a bit just to accommodate exact match domain spam. Google engineers can easily programmatically determine which sites are trying to do exact domain match (EDM) spam. If you have an exact match domain with an unpopular TLD like a .co or .biz, and you put that exact key phrase in the title tag, and start if off with that key phrase in the meta description tag, or go out to a few link sources and use the same key phrase as a backlink in the anchor text, Google is going to eventually ding your site. That is what happened to this poor sole proprietor that was depending on his site for his livelihood!

SEO Lesson:

Any time there is blackhat automated software built and sold on popular blackhat or webmaster forums, you should know without an inkling of a doubt that Google engineers know about it too. They are scouring those forums themselves to see what sort of spam is out there that they can programmatically stop. Apparently these exact match domains (EMDs) had become so popular in the blackhat SEO community that entrepreneurial programmers had built software that would scour registrars to find available exact match domains. Their main goal was to find low hanging long tail key phrases for affiliate promotional purposes. In any event, it is important to note a distinction; we did not find any penalties levied against OLDER sites that had exact match domains with .com or .net TLDs. The penalties were evident against new exact match domains, with unpopular .TLDs, which had over-optimized the site with the target key phrase.

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