Almost all of my clients have a previous SEO company who they parted ways with for one reason or another. Sometimes they goofed up a website so bad it has to be restarted from scratch. In other cases, I have to scrap the entire domain, simply because it is the fastest and most cost effective solution. In other cases, it takes some time for the problems to present themselves.
In very tough niches, ranking can take a year or two. Sometimes you give it everything and know a page should rank, and it doesn’t. Then, you have to start poking around.
Recently, a site I have been working with was having exactly this issues. Stuck on page 2 for a very competitive key phrase. After several months of being there, I started digging, and discovered new links in Google Search Console. About 20 caught my attention, which are from low quality domains.
Shouldn’t I have seen this sooner?
In some cases, not all links show up. Or, they have yet to be crawled. In cases where crawling is taking a long time, it can be a year or two before links begin showing up in Google Search Console.
Links from low quality domains have a negative value and hinder performance of your otherwise well performing site. In other words, if you have been doing everything right for a year or two, the actions of a previous SEO company from 3 – 4 years ago can be goofing you up.
This is very difficult to detect, especially if there is no algorithmic penalty or manual action involved, and less competitive key phrases are ranking very well on the same domain.
Detecting the problem
In a very recent case, I set up a second domain as an experiment and within 90 days outranked the more important site I had been working on for significantly longer.
Resolving the problem
Detecting which links have a toxic affect or a negative value is the tricky part. Then what do you do with those links? Disavow them? Go manually remove them? Even after removed they can show up in Google Search Console for a significant amount of time.
The actions which should be taken at this point vary from site to site.
Once a problem is discovered I would bring it to the business owner’s attention and offer some options.