Penguin Recovery Case Study


This is a case study of a site that I managed to recover after it was hit by 2 Penguin updates. In this case, 99% of the bad links were going to the home page of the website. Bad links included lots of anchor text with exact match keywords from blog posts and blog comments.

note: If your bad links go to lots of internal pages as well this strategy may not work

Website History and Details

The client came to me in September 2012  as they were looking to change SEO companies and change themes for their website. The website was built in WordPress. This client was not using Google Adwords. They had been hit by the May 2012 Penguin update and before I started work on their site they were hit again by the October 2012 update. The previous SEO company had added their links to the Google disavow tool but the client was still ranking in the 20-40’s for keywords they had previously been at number 1 and 2 for.

The client changed their website to a new theme and I worked on the on-site SEO in October and November and also contacting websites to ask for links to be removed. Link removal was very difficult as many of the sites did not have email or contact forms that could be used to ask for link removal. The client was getting to a stage where financially it was a struggle to continue the business. The rankings were not improving and we needed to try something else.

Steps we took to recover the website

1. In mid-December 2012 we transferred the whole site to a new domain name

2. We kept the old site live but made these modifications

a) Redirected all pages except the home page (home page was the one with 95% of the links and most of the bad links)
b) Rewrote the content on the home page of the new site (so it would not be a duplicate of copy on the old site)
c) Created new email addresses with the new domain name

We could not redirect the home page as that would also redirect the bad links. But we needed to keep the old site live as all the clients business cards and other branding had the old domain on it. So the old site still had the same design and everything looked the same on the 2 sites. But to Google, the old site was now just a one-page site. When people went to the old site there was a button they could click to go to the new site.

3. We then went through all the client’s social media accounts and changed the domain/website name that was listed on the account.

4. We then made a list of all the business directories that the client was listed in that were Australian and or relevant to their industry. We requested changes to make sure all the details were the same on all directories. But most importantly we asked them to change the domain name to the new one. We did not try to change any other links. Only social media and good relevant business directories. So the client went from having about 2000 links to the home page to having about 200 links to the home page

5. Keyword research for other keywords that could also bring traffic and potential sales to create new service pages and blog posts.


By March 2013 they had risen back to number 2-4 on the 1st page of Google for most of the keywords that brought them leads previously. So in March and April 2013 they had huge sales months again.

If you would like to discuss this further with regards to your site please contact me by email or 0422 900 576


For more detailed SEO advice check out my SEO eBooks.
I plan to write an eBook specific to every local industry. So please contact me to request one for your industry.