Overcoming a Google Penalty: How SEO Inc. Increased a Client’s Organic Traffic by Over 170%

Here at SEO Inc., prospects and new clients often reach out to us because their website’s rankings are suffering from a Google penalty. They usually come to us for two reasons:

1) They have been penalized algorithmically, meaning their site has drawn the unwanted attention of a Google algorithm like Panda or Penguin. These algorithms are designed to decrease website rankings when they find things like low quality content or spammy links.

2) They have been penalized manually by Google. Usually this is the result of their previous SEO company having engaged in blackhat link building tactics.

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We recently had a new client reach out to us because he suspected his current web development company was doing something illegitimate to his site, which was causing it to lose traffic. He had recently relaunched his website with a modern and responsive design, and he had signed up for SEO with the same company. However, aside from some recent positive traction, organic traffic wasn’t nearly what it had been in previous years or even recent months. In fact, it had decreased significantly.

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Our client was fairly SEO-savvy, so right away he noticed that some things had not been done with the new site, which raised some major red flags.

Missing redirections. A lot of the old pages had not been redirected to the new pages on the site. This means the SEO value of the old URL’s was not being passed to the new URL’s.

Missing alt text. Many of the images were missing alt text, which provide essential information that allows blind or handicapped users to browse the site.

Slow website speed. Our client believed his website seemed slower than it should have been.

Needless to say, he wasn’t satisfied with the results and depth of knowledge exhibited by his previous company.

Our Goal

SEO Inc. resolved to work with our new client to restore his rankings to a consistent level and increase his organic traffic using legitimate, proven SEO strategies. We would perform an audit of his entire website, essentially leaving no stone unturned as we inspected his site on a page-by-page basis as well as on the whole to root out and remove toxic links. We would also aim to improve his on page optimization, leveraging unique content and keyword distribution to enhance relevancy and authority for his pages.

Link Detox

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Once we could review the client’s website in depth, we made a startling discovery – his previous company had been building links to his website using black hat SEO tactics. They had used a common tactic called a Private Blog Network (PBN). This was a network of WordPress sites this company owned and operated, and its sole purpose was to publish articles that would link back to their clients’ websites using exact match, money (high value) anchor text. This PBN was particularly easy to identify, as all the sites under it linked to each other and pointed back to this company’s website as well – a clear sign of black hat webspam and of trying to “cheat” the ranking system.

Because we could identify the PBN so easily, we knew it was only a short matter of time before Google would crack down on our client, having issued manual penalties in the past for using PBNs to artificially inflate rankings.

Our Solution

Once our client came onboard, we performed a thorough link detox of his site. This process involved looking at each backlink pointing toward his site and immediately disavowing the PBN sites. In the days and weeks following the Google algorithm Penguin 4.0 (which targets webspam in real-time and rolled out in fall of last year), we saw a noticeable increase in organic traffic to our client’s site.

Page Speed and Image Optimization

Another challenge was to correct our client’s 404 errors that his previous company had ignored. Optimizing the website’s page speed and load times became another large focus of the project. We did indeed find that the website was performing at a less than ideal speed, which when combined with the lack of redirects, would make for a poor user experience and reduce the sites organic visibility.

Our Solution>

We worked to make sure that all our client’s old URLs were redirected to their new counterparts. This would allow the pages to carry over the “link juice” value to the new site, preserving the flow of traffic from the old pages to the new.

We took advantage of several newer technologies to take the website’s page speed to new levels, specifically HTTP/2 and PHP7. HTTP/2 replaced the older, slower HTTP website protocol, while PHP7 provided a stronger scripting language for web development purposes.

As for his images, we compressed all of the images on his website losslessly using the WordPress plugin WP Smush and used W3 Total Cache to combine and reduce the number of CSS & JS resources used. This would cut back on the amount of scripting needed to load the website. We also added descriptive alt text to his images, optimizing them to be able to be understood by users with disabilities and adhering to ADA standards.

Page Speed States Before Implementation:

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Page Speed States After Implementation:

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On Page Optimization

Once we had taken care of the mission critical SEO tasks, we could shift our focus to his on page optimization. His previous company had implemented a damaging keyword strategy that goes against Google’s guidelines. We found numerous instances of overlapping and duplicated keywords in his meta tags and headers. Since so many pages shared the same focus keywords, a lot of his pages were prevented from ranking for additional key terms.

Our Solution

We discussed with our client how to ensure a strong keyword strategy for each page by positioning the keywords to target a specific service or topic. Then, we incorporated them into unique content with no overlap between pages.

Rich Snippet Optimization

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In addition to the on page optimization work, we also added various structured data formats to enhance the site’s search result listings and click through rate. We created a testimonials page on his website to list all of his reviews and ratings and then added AggregateRating Review Structured Data to showcase his 5 star rating in the search results. We also added Breadcrumb markup to make the URL listing more digestible and appealing to both search engines and users. In addition to the structured data mentioned above, we added the following additional formats:

These additional formats allowed his site to gain added value from Google’s search results listings, as they are now eligible to be featured in prominent sections on the page.

White Hat Link Building Campaign

Last but not least, we took a purely white hat approach to building links to our client’s site. Unlike the previous company’s tactics of forging backlinks using an illegitimate PBN, we wanted to provide real value to his website and his visitors by building links that were related to his industry. We were able to leverage services such as HARO (Help a Reporter Out), which connects journalists with experts to answer their questions using thorough research and know-how to create the foundation for a strong link profile for our client.

Conclusion

We are pleased to report that after our on page optimization efforts, page speed improvements, rich snippet additions, and the implementation of our keyword and content and strategy, our client’s website performance increased drastically:

  • Organic traffic increased by 170%
  • Page load time reduced from 4.8 seconds to 1.2 seconds
  • Page sizes reduced from 2.68 MB to 676 KB

We are thrilled to have helped pull our client out of his SEO troubles, securing his site and making it more appealing to human users and search engines.

Web Marketing Association Names SEO Inc. Official Search Engine Marketing Partner

seo_incThe Web Marketing Association is pleased to announce that it has selected SEO, Inc. as the official Search Engine Marketing partner for its industry leading award programs. The Web Marketing Association is organizer of the WebAward Competition for Website Development, Internet Advertising Competition and the MobileWebAwards.

“Search engine optimization and content marketing is key to any marketer looking to have their marketing materials found on the Internet”, said William Rice, President of the Web Marketing Association. “SEO, Inc. will help us insure the winners of our award programs receive the maximum exposure possible because of their achievement. Winning an award is an outstanding way to show off your expertise in web development, but it also can be a boon for your web marketing. SEO Inc. is going to help us improve us optimize our award websites so that award winners receive critical inbound links from a credible source.”

SEO Inc is an award winning innovative Internet Marketing company located in San Diego CA. SEO Inc has more than 20 years of SEO / PPC specific experience in the digital marketing field, that’s more that 99% of current SEO companies. We believe in developing digital marketing campaigns that are built on a foundation of SEO Inc’s proven methodology. Their seo services fills in every piece of the ever changing and complex SEO puzzle, get SEO Optimization that gains marketing traction quickly and establishes your brand in your industry. Our SEO company can get you campaign off the ground, with a long-term proven custom SEO strategy.

“We are thrilled to support the WMA, and it’s outstanding award programs for their contributions in recognizing the best the web has to offer,” says Garry Grant, CEO of SEO Inc. “It is our pleasure to work with them to ensure that hard-working webmasters get the recognition they deserve.”

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Win a free book from the Web Marketing Association

Enter to win a copy of Domains 360, A new book about the Fundamentals of Buying & Selling Domain Names by Peter Prestipino, Editor-in-Chief of Website Magazine.

domainsBookcoverDomains 360 provides a road map for success, offering not just an explanation of why domain names are so important to the digital ecosystem or how anyone can profit from an investment in them, but also incredibly practical guidance on how to choose them and powerful insights on ways in which you can make the most of domain name assets while they are under your control. The domain name space is an exciting one – full of potential and opportunity, and Domains 360 provides the insights necessary to accelerate success when it comes to buying and selling domain names for profit.

To enter, visit the WMA Contest Page before Friday, September 23rd.

Don’t Miss NetFinance Interactive 2016

NetFi-LogoNetFinance Interactive 2016
November 29 – December 1, 2016
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Carlsbad, CA

The event for Financial Services executives, NetFinance Interactive is the one-stop shop for digital and multi-channel thought leaders. It’s an event where you’ll learn, gain inspiration and find solutions for your business – all while building lasting relationships. This year, we’ll have topics covering the full spectrum digital success from online marketing and mobile to customer acquisition and retention strategies. At NetFinance, we aim to spark new insights for you so if you have a challenge, we’ve got you covered.

For more info, go to http://netfinanceint.wbresearch.com/

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Get Invited To The Digital Marketing Exchange

header_logoThe 4th Annual Digital Marketing Exchange has once again raised the bar with cutting-edge content led by the companies you want to hear from!  Our invitation-only event presents speakers paving the way of digital transformation, delivering leading practices and dialogue-driven debate on key topics of interest. Our exclusive group includes digital marketing leaders from companies such as The NY Times, Zappos, Kiehl’s, AT&T, Adore Me, Brown-Forman and much more! Event will take place September 18-20, in San Diego, California. Click here to request an invitation.

eTail East is coming to Boston

etail_logoThe Web Marketing Association supports a number of industry conferences that we feel are worthy of our members attentions. One such conference is eTail East, August 15 – 18, 2016 at the The Sheraton in Boston.

eTail is at the cutting edge of multi-channel and eCommerce. At eTail, inspiration meets innovation. Experience electric keynotes and tailored networking in the heart of historic Boston. Learn more at: http://etaileast.wbresearch.com

We hope to see you there.

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WebMasterRadio now Cranberry.FM

cranberryradioLong time Web Marketing Association sponsor WebmasterRadio.fm has recently been acquired by content amplification platform, Cranberry and re-launched of the award-winning online radio network as Cranberry Radio (cranberry.fm). The addition of Cranberry Radio to the family of Cranberry services provides another platform for brands and individuals to build content, authority and engage with consumers and prospects.

“The Web Marketing Association has long had a wonderful relationship with  WebmasterRadio.fm founders Founded Brandy and Daron Babin and their team”, said William Rice, President of the Web Marketing Association. David McInnis, Cranberry’s founder, and chief executive was also one of the very first sponsors back almost 20 years ago. We are excited to see what great things happen with theses industry pioneers join forces.”
WebmasterRadio.fm has been producing online radio and podcast programming for over a decade. During that period, the network became the largest online radio and podcast platform for the digital marketing industry.
Cranberry helps marketers repackage content into a creative asset suitable for native content display on our publisher’s websites. Their native content approach helps improve engagement. Cranberry.fm will begin to add programming that reaches into new industry and lifestyle categories and creating value for their audience, show hosts, and advertisers.

Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition Discount

500x350_1Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) provides you with a conference full of industry experts, an exhibit hall filled with the latest and greatest solution providers, and a community made for networking with thousands of like-minded industry peers. Developed by the editorial experts at Internet Retailer magazine, the IRCE agenda covers timely topics across the retail sector. Save 20% Off Registration at IRCE!

Main Stage speakers for 2016 include top influencers from Dell, Nasa, Steve Madden, and TigerFitness.com. Don’t miss their inspiring sessions, as well as our 6 dedicated workshops and 10 separate tracks offered across four days. 

Join IRCE in Chicago, June 7-10, at McCormick Place West, to discover the latest trends in online commerce and improve your online strategies – plus, take advantage of the 600+ solution and technology providers in the exhibit hall. Register now and use Promo Code “AP1” to receive 20% off!

 

eTail West

eTailWest250x250Banner1eTail, a marketing partner of the Web Marketing Association, is your one-stop shop for all things multi-channel and eCommerce; an event where inspiration meets innovation; socializing meets ROI. We’re bigger and better this year – covering every topic related to your job, both strategically and tactically. Experience tons of new sessions, interactive learning, guest speakers and keynotes, all in beautiful Palm Springs.

Keynote speakers come from top retailers – companies such as Barnes & Noble, JustFab, HSN, Coach, HP, Sears – to name a few. You can attend high impact presentations, debate –themed panel discussions, collaborative working group sessions, retailer only meet-ups – you’re guaranteed to leave with pages of notes. Bring your team – there’s more sessions and content than ever before.

Where else can you network like you can at eTail. Nowhere. There is a new chance to make a valuable business contact, connect one on one with other retailers and catch up with old friends – every single day.

Register today using code ETW16WMA to receive 25% off the full conference price for qualified retailers!

Win a full conference pass to ad:tech New York

adtechNY-logoThe Web Marketing Association is please to be able to offer a full conference pass to leading industry conference ad:tech New York (November 4-5) to web professionals who enter this drawing.

Visit our WMA drawing page to enter. The deadline for entering is Thursday, October 29th at 5pm EST. Winner will be notified on October 30th and posted to our WMA Facebook page.

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