Can you recover your first page rankings in Google after a Google penalty caused by an algorithm update? The answer is yes, you can.
While an expert SEO service can’t guarantee an outcome (not owning Google and all), we can take steps to put you in the best possible position to return to the first page of Google and recover the lost ground that comes with many Search Engine penalties.
Losing your ranking can be the difference between financial success and absolute disaster.
In this case study I want to show you by the following real life case study what we were able to achieve for this client in the hope that those of you who have had your business, small or large, hit with a penalty, will not lose heart.
October 2013. We Came on Board to help Boost Search Engine Rankings for a well known Sports Industry Website in the United States.
We set up an SEO Service and Content Marketing Plan for the client and also optimised a number of their social media and Google Business accounts.
We were targeting a number of highly competitive niche keywords.
We had some great success pushing through the top 100 and on to the first page of Google for their chosen keywords. Then in October 2014 it happened….
A Google Penalty Strikes
In mid October 2014 Google updated it’s Algorithm. Several sites watched on in horror as their rankings went down to Davey Jones.
We picked up on the penalty in the first week and noticed the plunge in traffic for our client.
We also noticed the plunge in rankings. It was immediate. The keywords dropped from the top 5 positions in Google to below 250.
Our Client had two options. They could abandon a ten year old site built for one of the largest Professional Golf Organisations in the Unite States or Fight the Penalty.
Either option would be costly.
- The cost of recovery and,
- The revenue you will gain if you recover.
Chasing the Penguin
Our client decided that it was worth the fight. The revenue that could be gained or lost outweighed the cost to attempt the recovery.
Of course, we were delighted by this. No one offering SEO Services wants this kind of thing happening on their watch. We had worked hard to improve our clients position in Google and felt that we had a stake in the outcome as well.
Here is the action we took on behalf of our client.
Step 1: Put a New Marketing Strategy in to Place
The client needed to remain accessible to users of the site, both new and old. Since he could no longer rely upon Google search results to do that, we implemented a Social Media and Link Building Strategy to help minimise the impact of the penalty.
Remember: Google isn’t the Only source of Traffic. What back up plans or alternative strategies do you have in place for your small business?
Being able to put a new strategy in place did help. In the image above you can see by early November we had prevented any more loss of traffic.
This strategy also helped to quickly lift us back up toward the top 100 results where the most important keywords remained throughout November. (See screen shot below).
…Skip to our Video Case Study of this client’s Recovery
Step 2: Uncovering Possible Causes of the Penalty
Our nest step was to figure out how the penalty occurred and was it Manual or Automatic? Checking for a manual penalty is pretty straight forward. Google will typically announce it the messages section of your Google Webmaster Account.
The penalty turned out to be an automatic one and coincided with the Google Algorithm update. Specifically, we uncovered back links from totally irrelevant sites all linking to our clients website.
And by ‘irrelevant’, I mean, ‘Viagra’.
Step 3: Implement a Google Disavow Strategy
First, we had to go and find as many of these toxic links as we could. That wasn’t hard. There were over 10,000 of them, many from sunny Russia. No surprises there.
As part of the disavow process we needed to assess which links might still have value and which were truly worthless. This might sound unnecessary. Aren’t all these links bad?
Well, pretty much all the Viagra ones were, but remember, the web is built on links. If we lose them all, we are not likely to recovery our Google rankings – at least not for a long, long time.
After cataloguing as many of these links as possible we:
- Contacted Webmasters and asked them to remove the links we considered toxic and,
- Submitted a Disavow Request through Google Webmaster (December 5th).
Meanwhile, we continued to build new, healthy links and to encourage Google to start indexing these as well as all of the new content we were creating.
Google Search Engine Recovery to Page One
On December 7th we noticed our rankings had returned to near normal for many of our keywords. We have to admit that this was an exceptional result.
We can’t take all the credit either as much of this depends on Google’s response time to Disavow requests.
These are the images you long to send to your clients. We also witnessed a resurgence of Traffic for our client, much to his pleasure.
We have seen many sites wait for a year or more for a new algorithm update before seeing any improvement. We have also seen sites which do recover, but struggle to return to their former position in Google’s Search Engine results.
We think we did three things that worked in our favour.
- We acted quickly.
- We implemented a new content marketing strategy and,
- We kept building links, even while things seem to be falling down.
We also suspect that these links were the result of an attack. Hard to believe when it happens to you, but ,sadly, increasingly common in such a competitive market.
Is their hope for those who get struck by a Google Penalty? Yes.
But you have to weigh up the cost of recovery, the amount you will lose if you don’t recover and the amount of revenue you can generate if you do recover.
We obviously can’t guarantee this result but we do believe it is possible to recover and recover well.
Have you had a Google Penalty? Did you recover?
We love to promote stories of small business success online, especially the ways in which small business is winning in Google Search Engine Results.
Please join the conversation and share your thoughts below.