How to Destroy Your Website for $5
How awesome is it to live in an age when you can pay $5 to get most of your work done?
- Do you want SEO & organic promotion? You got it!
- Do you want PPC campaign management? Done!
- Do you want a virtual CFO? Well.. This one might cost you $10!
As someone who is involved in marketing campaigns on a daily basis, I’ve seen a fair share of great stuff produced by low cost freelancers, as well as atrocities disguised as deliverables.
Today we’ll to talk about the extremely popular $5 gigs and how saving a few bucks today, could end up costing you a lot more than you think.
Before we start, I’d like to point out that we’re not against low cost freelancers or any website which facilitates access to their services. However, we have seen many sites negatively impacted by what business owners once thought to be a great investment. Our goal is to help you avoid these common pitfalls and keep your site/business in good shape.
Without further ado, here are 7 gig types you should avoid at all costs:
STOCK IMAGE GIGS
Images are known to increase time on site, decrease bounce rate, and improve overall user experience. A recent study by Jumpshot and Moz revealed that roughly a quarter of all searches are done via Google Image search.
However, sourcing images from $5 gigs can land you in legal hot water as you have no documentation and no way of knowing where those images came from.
It is not rare to see providers openly admit that they download images from well-known stock photo websites and then resell them on these gigs. Needless to say, this goes against the terms of service of most stock photo sites and may arguably infringe on copyright laws.
Here is what one popular stock photo site has to say about re-selling their images:
If you’re able to, use your phone or camera to create original content. You can’t go wrong by investing in custom product photography either.
Creative commons is another way to source images, however spend some time familiarizing yourself with CC licenses and put in place a digital asset management tool to keep track of things.
Don’t have the budget for a DAMS? Make friends with Dropbox / Google Drive and Spreadsheets!
Lastly, if you still need to use stock imagery here are some cost-efficient options:
WEB DEV & CODING GIGS
How comfortable would you be knowing that someone you paid $5 to, who may operate half a world away; has direct access to the backend of your online business?
For any web dev and coding to take place, freelancers need access to your site’s CMS and potentially hosting account, FTP + Databases to perform backend tasks.
I asked our one of our in house developers what he thought about $5 coding/web dev gigs and this is what he had to say:
Pretty much sums it up right?
At this price point, you also run the risk of getting dropped by a web developer which makes the task that much harder for the next developer as he/she has to figure out what the previous person did or tried to do.
Here are some funny comments left within source code which illustrates their frustration:
Credit to these brave code-warriors.
All jokes aside, the risks far outweigh any benefits.
Just like you wouldn’t hire the a $5 contractor to build your house, don’t cut corners on web dev. You want to make sure that you have a proper foundation to grow your online business.
It is also important to know exactly what you want to accomplish. You may not be interested in knowing the intricacies of web dev tasks, but you certainly need to know who is doing what and when the project is due.
Do you need help with web dev? We can certainly help!
ARTICLE WRITING GIGS
We all know that great articles take time to develop. Unfortunately, I am not being biased when I say that “someone charging $5 for an article is likely overlook content production best practices including research, gathering sources, editing, formatting, etc.” – Keep in mind that the goal of these $5 writers is to churn out “articles” as quickly as they are able to.
So what do you get for $5?
Usually, fluff with no real insight.
If you still want to use these low cost writers you should at the very least:
- Come up with very clear guidelines regarding voice, tone, formatting.
- Do thorough keyword research
- Compile all of the data you want the article to have
- Gather all citations and sources
- Compile images, and media
- Hire an editor or proof the article yourself. Edit mercilessly.
Now, will the final product end up costing you $5? Yes, if you take your time out of the equation. So I ask you: what is your time worth?
Create content that offers value to your target audience, and worry about search engines last.
When you focus on providing value, users stick around longer and search engines take notice. In the long run you will be rewarded with better organic placement and more targeted traffic.
Here is a study by SEMRush based on 600,000 keywords, which pinpoints 17 factors that appear to impact organic rankings. Notice how 3 of the top 5 factors are all related to user behavior.
The bottom line is: when it comes to content you truly get what you pay for.
SOCIAL SIGNAL GIGS
These gigs aim to build your likes and followers almost instantly, and while that may sound appealing at first, it only takes a few minutes to realize why these gigs won’t work for you.
What are the benefits of having likes and followers? Well, for starters, these are individuals who resonate with your business products/services and are willing to engage with your brand. The keywords here are resonate and engage.
When you have social media properties full of fake accounts, it doesn’t matter what you post, there will simply be no engagement of any kind.
Facebook and Twitter have both developed algorithms to combat spam and reward quality content. Google also patented a method for identifying fake social media accounts, thus diminishing any benefit fake followers could have provided.
Grow your social media properties organically and boost them with paid campaigns.
Don’t know where to start? Drop us a line, we’ll give you some social media tips and point you in the right direction.
LINK BUILDING GIGS
In 2018, backlinks are still one of the most important factors used by search engines to rank websites organically. Similar to content, what moves the needle here is quality, measured in terms of relevance, domain authority, trust flow, citation flow, visual inspection, and common sense.
Earning editorial links requires time and effort. As an SEO Manager I often find myself researching, compiling URL lists, prospecting, analyzing, producing linkable content and reaching out to site owners to secure quality backlinks for our clients. Believe me when I say, this is no $5 work.
So do you get for $5 should you choose to go down this path?
I submit to you, Exhibit A.
This client said he hired “contractors” to accelerate his link building efforts since as his biggest competitor had thousands of links more than they did. After a few hours on the phone and some email communication, this client mentioned Fiverr as their source of backlinks.
This is the report we received from the client:
What’s wrong with this picture? Domain Authority, Page Authority and OBL check out, no?
Not quite. A few minutes of detective work revealed the following:
- Blog comments: these were nonsensical, off-topic comments that added no value to the original post. As a bonus, this client’s links were placed on the same pages that linked to all sorts of “businesses” – from pharma to escorts (ಠ_ಠ)
- Social bookmarking: these were primarily spammy twitter, myspace, google+ mentions. Picture a social media account that shares content about things that are completely unrelated to each other, 50+ times/day. Doesn’t sound legit, does it?
- Niche blog comments: there was nothing “niche specific” on this report, just more spam. Similar to the blog comments above.
- Article submission: this is a well known spam tactic, that involves writing articles, machine spinning them to make them unique regardless of whether or not the final product is legible, and then submitting the final “spins” to hundreds of “article sites” that have no editorial process in place.
- In 2011 Google released the “Panda algorithm” which took down a huge portion of these sites, including the biggest player at the time: Ezine Articles.
- Web 2.0: These are Blogger, Tumblr, and Kinja, and many other accounts that were created for the sole purpose of spamming links. There is nothing “2.0” about it.
- Directory: These are low quality sites that attempted to list businesses per category. Unfortunately, they didn’t seem to have the resources to keep spammers away. As a result, these link directories now list weight loss sites under the catch-all category of business, and so on.
As you can see, I took this report and immediately created a tab entitled “disavow,” where 100% of these URLs were listed. Luckily for this client, we caught this issue before they saw any traffic drop.
So.. what makes these links toxic?
- Anchor texts are over optimized.
- Your site’s link velocity changes drastically from one month to another. It can go from zero to hundreds of links without any real social engagement to validate those links.
- Incoming links are all from spammy sites
- The first tier of links pointing to your pages have few-to-no links pointing to them.
Here are a few other $5 link building gigs you shouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole: profile links, forum links, sitewide do-follow footer/sidebar links, multi-tiered link schemes, private blog networks (PBN).
Don’t take shortcuts and avoid $5 sites for anything related to link building.
Instead build linkable assets, reach out to relevant sites and bring eyeballs to your content.
If you suspect you may a case of spammy links, feel free to reach out. We’ll audit your site and fix any issues keeping you from improving your organic visibility.
PRESS RELEASE DISTRIBUTION GIGS
I broke press release out of the “backlinks” section because, these are deserve special mention.
If done right, there is nothing inherently wrong about press releases. These are distribution channels which help disseminate newsworthy events related to your business.
The great majority of press release sites now use a link attribute called “nofollow” which signals to the search engines that such links should not count as votes to influence organic rankings.
If acquired from a $5 gig, your press release won’t end up in a site such as PRWeb, but instead on a spammy article site disguised as a press release site which can ultimately hurt your organic rankings.
Furthermore, some of the higher quality press release distribution gigs cost as much as distributing content through well established platforms:
Use a syndication service that will expose your newsworthy content to the maximum number of media outlets. Here are some great options:
TRAFFIC GENERATION GIGS
Traffic is the lifeblood of any business. Without it there are no clicks, there is no engagement and there are no sales.
Let’s go back to client “X” for the sake of this example. Client “X” also bought “organic traffic” from one of these low-cost gigs, and we don’t have to dig too deep to understand what was so alluring about these gigs. Just look at the prices below and compare to what you would normally pay on Facebook or Google AdWords:
The first gig seems to claim that you can drive up to 100,000 visits to your site for just $5!
Mind blowing, isn’t it?
Let’s dig into Analytics and see what actually happened…
I submit to you, Exhibit B:
Within one month, this client received roughly 60,000 sessions, with an average bounce rate of 45% and about 1.8 pages per session. Not too shabby huh?
Real traffic doesn’t behave this way. It is extremely unlikely that you will see both bounce rate and pages per session match across 9 different sources, especially when this is said to be “organic traffic.”
I ran this report because the client complained that even though he was getting so much traffic, none of it was converting. These are all tell-tale signs of bot/robot/proxy traffic, and as you can imagine, robots have no wallets!
We asked this client to stop this campaign and shortly after, e-commerce metrics went back to normal.
Save yourself some frustration and avoid buying traffic from these sites. Instead, optimize your paid campaigns to improve ROI.
If you don’t know where to start don’t be shy, send us a message. We can certainly help!
The bright side of things
Like I said at the beginning of this article, we are not against these low cost service providers, and the truth is that many of these gigs are simply awesome, especially if you are bootstrapping your business.
Here are some gig types that won’t destroy your website and can ultimately save you time.
- Video editing
- Content Editing / Proofreading
- Podcast Intros / Outros
- Video Intros / Outros
- Simple Photoshop tasks
- Data Entry & Collection
- Virtual Assistants
- Original Art & Illustration (cartoons, facebook covers, custom social media graphics, ebook illustrations) – Run a reverse image search after you get these materials just in case!
The key to make these gigs work for you is to be very specific about what you want done. If you hire a VA, make sure you have proper documentation as to how the task should be performed and what the expected outcome is. Don’t make assumptions.
Over to you ..
What tasks are you outsourcing and what have you experienced? We’d love to hear from you!