What is the value of (17+ years) experience in SEO?

 Note I’ve broken some hyperlinks below.

     Recently I had some feedback from a client who asked for a discount as they thought my rates were too high. The client's own variable hourly rates were worked out to almost £3K per day (inc VAT) for their most senior staff member’s services. My rates are absolutely nowhere near that!

    What is the value of my experience? Here is but one example...

    In late 2022 I was engaged to work on SEO for 11 websites for a major international (now mainly online) education provider (they had recently acquired one of my clients) who have been established for well over a hundred years. I don’t have an NDA but I won’t name them here for the sake of discretion. I focused my work on the main  websites of their 3 brands . I was not given any KPIs as such and it was general SEO consultancy.

My work included in Feb 23 a review and resubmission of the disavowal to Google of backlinks to their .co.uk domain (which has been serving in effect as the main international domain for one of their brands) which upon inspection did not appear to have been done by someone with experience of this process . I was not informed of this disavowal and checked for it’s existence as I had noted issues with their backlink profile . A ‘disavowal’ is to ask Google to ignore a website's non-Google guideline compliant paid / sponsored links (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66736) or other link schemes that violate GOOG’s quality guidelines (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769).

      The previous disavowal from July 2020 (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2648487?hl=en)  contained Google guideline compliant ‘quality’ (non-spam) links from reputable domains including their ‘sister’ websites and other domains e.g. from websites including the following (this is not an exhaustive list):

as well as sites like :

volresource .org.uk

careers-houseofcommons .org.uk

www.hays .co.uk

connexions-trafford .co.uk

netmums .com

trainingandcourses .com

outofschoolalliance .co.uk

archive.e-learningcentre .co.uk

kingdown.wilts .sch.uk


    Backlinks from 3345 domains and 815 individual URLs were disavowed in the previous disavowal created in July 2020 – after de-duplication and review this number was 2697 domains and 627 URLs (a reduction of around 25%). Note these numbers may have included some expired domains - the aim of the disavowal review (within a limited time budget) was only to remove the Google guideline compliant ‘quality’ (non-spam) links from the disavowal file.

    It would take a while for Google to re-crawl all the links that had been removed from the disavowal. This is in effect re-building backlinks from around 1000 websites for relatively little effort (compared to building new links from the websites in question): this was alongside link building work for this domain. The total number of linking websites for the website in question is 1.6K at time of writing (10.23) according to ahrefs .com.

    The first disavowal recorded in Search Console that I found was from August, 2019 and there was at least one since before my disavowal.

 They took my role back in house in early 2023 .

 This work (alongside my other work on this website) has contributed to a huge rise in the search visibility on Google globally in 2023 (including in the territories of India, USA and the UK) for this website ( US  and India Ahrefs data below).

In 2012 I worked on a website with a formal (and manual) Unnatural Link Penalty (the successful removal of which required multiple disavowals and ‘reconsideration requests’) from Google. I had not been involved with the website in question before being asked to help remove the penalty. See https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2014/02/10/google-unnatural-links-manual-penalty-a-recovery-guide/ . My previous experience enabled me to revise the disavowal for the website of the education provider mentioned above in line with the relevant Google guidelines (https://developers.google .com/search/docs/essentials/spam-policies#link-spam ).

   Some less experienced SEO consultants may have never heard of Unnatural Link Penalties from Google , let alone disavowals and reconsideration requests.