Quick SEO Action Removes Google Penalty for Backlinking

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Challenge

A leading children’s toy manufacturer and retailer sought Elite SEM’s services for assistance in growing their organic search presence while stewarding their website migration to a new ecommerce platform. The client’s prior migration had been performed without SEO support during the holiday shopping season, and their organic presence suffered. They did not recover until well after the season had ended the following calendar year.

During the second website migration, a problem in web development caused the duplication and publication of thousands of blog pages that were not supposed to be indexed in Google. As a result, Google’s Web Spam team levied a manual penalty against the client’s site for suspicious outbound linking.

48-Hour Reversal of Google Manual ActionThis is costly for any business; the longer it takes to address a manual action from Google, the more time the competition has to overtake them on the SERP, and the steeper the client needs to climb after the penalty is lifted. Swift action needed to be taken.

Solution

The retailer’s web development team was unable to come up with an immediate solution, so Elite devised a redirection strategy to remove the thousands of duplicated blog posts from Google’s index. They also started digging into the site’s content management system to identify the mechanisms that were generating the outbound links that Google found in violation of their terms of service.

Live crawls of the website in a staging environment were employed alongside reviews of legacy blog crawls to pinpoint extraneous pages. Redirect mapping was created and implemented to permanently move extraneous blog posts to their proper destinations, and a widget was identified within the client’s CMS that was housing a majority of problematic backlinks—this was amended with “nofollow” tags.

Elite then created best practice documents for the client’s content team to amend other outbound links with “nofollow” tags and guide future outbound linking practices.

Lastly, Elite petitioned Google on the client’s behalf via the Google Search Console with a reconsideration request and documentation detailing how the problem was fixed.

Elite petitioned Google on the client’s behalf via the Google Search Console with a reconsideration request and documentation detailing how the problem was fixed.

Results

Elite’s thorough understanding of what Google’s Web Spam team likes to see resulted in their comprehensive approach when petitioning Google. Their detailed documentation didn’t require a follow-up or additional instructions from the Web Spam team, leading to a quick approval.
Within 48 hours of petitioning Google on the client’s behalf, Elite was able to get the manual action lifted. The remainder of the website migration was completed without incident, and the client is now prepared with SEO best practice documents to avoid costly future problems.

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