The Business Cost of Google Penalties and Recovery Strategies


The Business Cost of Google Penalties and Recovery Strategies

James Norquay

James Norquay

24 Feb 2014

Over the last three years we have been working with numerous clients in the Australian and global market to assist with penalty recovery – both Algorithmic and Manual penalties. The thing about Google Penalties is that they can result in a detrimental loss to business revenue if you are not quick to develop a recovery strategy.

I would like to talk to you about four different businesses who have been hit by penalties on the larger scale of things. I also want to talk over some strategies we have used to assist with regaining organic positioning and the overall loss to revenue for the business.  For privacy reasons I cannot name the four businesses we have worked with.

Business One: Online Education Portal
Penalty: Algorithm update.
Business loss – $100,000 per month loss in organic search revenue.
Project Status: Project complete.

Business Two: Global Crowd Source Website.
Penalty: Manual Penalty.
Business loss: Post $X million funding round saw traffic drop by 50%.
Project Status: Project complete.

Business Three: Large US based Holiday portal
Penalty: Algorithmic penalty
Business loss:  50% loss in organic traffic, meaning $x million loss in revenue a year.
Project Status: Project complete.

Business Four: Financial Portal
Penalty: Manual & Algorithmic penalty
Business loss: Investors dropped out of a $x million funding round after finding out about the penalty.
Project Status: Underway

Now in all four cases listed above we did not complain to Google. Nor did we post on product forums or tech sites saying we were unfairly hit. We developed a recovery strategy and ongoing business plan for each specific company.

The three businesses above are all quite switched on from an SEO point of view. Three of the businesses even have in-house SEO teams. The thing about Manual and Algorithmic penalties is that it is a highly specialized area of SEO. I find our company time and time again fixing up the poor quality work which other agencies have tried to implement recovery strategies on websites.

Recovery Strategy 

Step 1 – Find out the history of the business. 
Find out who was doing SEO for the business in the past 10 years. Try and recover any documentation which was sent. Usually just saying the name of the SEO company who has completed the past work provides an instant picture of the damage.
As an example, here are two so called “well known” Sydney based agencies and the damage they have caused to many businesses:
Example agency name one – Built a large scale link network which was struck hard by penguin update, resulting in many websites being hit hard.
Example agency name two – Built a large amount of article marketing robot spam. To gain quick results on exact match keywords they would spam 1000’s of articles. This resulted in many of their clients being hit hard by Manual penalties for non organic links.

Step 2 – Collect all the data possible.
Personally we like to use various data sources such as Link Risk, Ahrefs, Majestic SE and Google Webmaster Tools data.
I think the issue here is that many people who use tools like Link Research Tools take the lazy way out. They pull the report from LRT and instantly disavow 100’s of good links with no analysis.

Step 3 – Complete analysis on the domains in question.
You need to do deep analysis into the link profile which you are completing analysis on. The larger and more complex the link profile, the more research you will need to do. As an example, if there are multiple redirects to the domain and historic issues it could mean even more work from an analysis point of view.

Step 4 – Complete manual link removal on the domain.
Once you have completed a comprehensive link analysis on the domain you need to manually remove a number of domains.

Step 5 – Complete a comprehensive disavow file.
When making a disavow file you need to ensure that you are 100% sure you want to add the links. Also ensure that you block domains using the root URL. Numerous times on analysis of disavow files we have noticed raw URL’s been used, or even the wrong formatting used in the disavow files. Another common problem we have noticed is that businesses rely to heavily on Link Research Tools and often end up disavowing a large number of “good domains”.  

Step 6 – Work out your next steps.
Will you be doing a reconsideration request if it is a manual penalty. If it an algorithmic penalty you will be unable to submit a reconsideration request. With manual penalties it may involve several attempts to re gain positioning.

Step 7 – Work out if you need to do on going link building to make the link profile more natural.
For most domains which have been hit by low quality link building you need to complete fresh link building to balance the link profile. This may involve using high quality link building strategies to target subcategory sections of the site and to build more branded and URL based links.

Step 8 – Repeat the process and keep doing analysis on work.
Repeat the analysis process on the domain and check on on going process, ideally you need to be looking at segments such as:

Results from on going Penalty Recovery Work – 

Business 1 – Online Education Portal


For the  Online Education Portal we removed a large amount of low quality links & completed a comprehensive disavow file.

A full case study here for this recovery project can be found here –

Business 2 – Global Crowd Source Website.

crowd-fundingAs we can see from the Crowd sourcing website organic visibility is increasing, the business invests heavily on PPC and has a large budget to do so.

Business 3 – Large US based Holiday portal

This large holiday portal contacted our business in March 2013 for assistance with a Penalty Recovery, the website had been hit hard by an algorithmic penalty. We were successful in recovery around mid 2013, further to this we assisted the client with a new strategy and direction for on going link building. The business has moved from strength to strength. 

Business 4 – Financial Portal

This is a recent project we are assisting with, the website was hit heavily by a manual penalty which then followed with a algorithmic penalty in the most recent update as we can see the traffic loss for the website is quite heavy from an organic visibility point of view.


As we can see their is a recovery strategy for all websites online for some it just takes far longer than others. Penalty analysis time can take 1-2 months and recovery can take upwards of 6 months. In addition to this some project may take longer and 100% recovery can never be guaranteed. Also please not the data from SEM Rush is to be used as a guide/ estimation only.

If you need assistance with a enterprise level Google penalty recovery or a mid level project feel free to contact Prosperity Media today, we will be happy to provide expertise and assistance on recovery.

James Norquay

James Norquay founded Prosperity Media in 2012 after working in the SEO & Content Marketing space for over 10 years. Prosperity works on Small to Large eCommerce, Marketplace and many other projects in Australia and the US markets.