The best SEO companies know that SEO techniques are constantly changing.

What worked yesterday to rank websites may not work today.

As a law firm marketer, I am always looking for new, white hat methods for improving my clients’ search rankings.

In SEO there are white hat techniques and black hat techniques. White hat SEO appeals to the human audience instead of the search engines with Google allowed methods. Black hat SEO targets the search engines with short-term methods that break search engine rules.

White hat SEO is the best way to set your website up for long-term search rank success.

Recently, I found that one of my clients had a received a penalty from Google for an unnatural link. Unnatural links are often associated with black hat SEO methods.

I don’t use black hat SEO, so I did a little digging to find out what had caused the manual penalty.

The cause was scholarship links – a method used by SEO companies over the past few years to boost client search rank.

Google decided at the end of 2017 to issue penalties for scholarship links. Here’s the reason why.

Why Is Google Penalizing Scholarship Links And What Are They?

When SEO companies discover a technique that works, it becomes a trend. Everyone jumps on the bandwagon and wrecks it for the whole industry. This happened with scholarship links.

Scholarship links were used for SEO by having the client create a scholarship – for example, a several hundred-dollar scholarship from a law firm for law school students – and contact as many schools as possible. The schools would add the law firm’s link to their scholarship page.

This was a good way to improve a company’s SEO until about a year ago when it stopped working. Instead of having little to no impact, it now comes with a penalty.

Once I discovered that the scholarship links had caused my client’s penalty I immediately disavowed the links from the .edu sites. I submitted a request for reconsideration, and the penalty was removed.

This confirmed my suspicion that the scholarship links had caused the penalty in the first place.

What Does This Mean For Your Website?

If you have been using scholarship links or the SEO company, you hired wants to use them in your strategy then this could be a problem for you. Talk to the person in charge of your SEO and have them remove or disavow the scholarship links to avoid penalties.

You can trust that a good SEO company will already be on top of the changes. If not, it could be time to find a new company to handle your website’s SEO.