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May 15th, 2014 Penalty Recovery

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by NathanEG, May 25, 2014.

  1. NathanEG

    NathanEG Power Member

    Oct 14, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Hey guys, so I don't share strategies as often as I should, but I thought I could help anyone who was hit by the most recent algorithm updates. Regardless of what we want to call it, there was definitely some sort of update on the 15th of May.

    The good news is that all of my personal and client websites escaped except for ONE.

    A little background on this client:
    - Fired his previous SEO company to work with me
    - He is a personal injury lawyer in a major city (If you do local SEO, you know how hard this industry is)
    - Since his previous SEO company thrashed his old domain, I told him to start fresh with a completely new domain.

    Here is where I messed up... although the previous SEO company obviously had no idea how to do SEO, I still thought it would be okay to redirect (He was ranking around #90-100 with for his main keyword with the old domain). The old domain didn't have a ton of links, but it had aggressive anchor text from terrible link sources like directories. Like an idiot, I redirected the old domain to the new one and began my normal link building which includes links from my highly relevant PBN, paid directories, handmade web 2.0s, and manual social bookmarks using Bookmark Hero.

    Everything was going according to plan: I got him to #7 on the first page within the first month and then BOOM - I wake up on the 15th and his rankings have fallen to the 8th and 9th page of Google.

    Here's the exact process I went through when I saw the rankings drops:

    Step 1: "WHAT THE FUCK!!!"

    Step 2: Checked all other domains (36 in total) and keywords (252 in total), and made sure no other sites took a hit - test #1 passed

    Step 3: went to BHW, immediately found a new thread about a potential update, did a little reading.

    Step 4 (The Important Steps Now): immediately began diluting my anchor text:
    • press release distribution using my favorite service here
    • bought (x4) .edu and .gov links for trust using this service
    • hit the site with more unoptimized links from trusted platforms using Link Essence

    Step 5: changed one of my two exact match anchors. I left one, and changed the other to a branded anchor text with a little co-citation action. Looks like this in a sentence: "blah blah < INSERT CITY > personal injury lawyer like John Doe" - "like John Doe" is the anchor text.

    Step 6: Removed the shitty 301 redirect.

    Step 7: Take a breather while the rankings climb back up and tell my client to relax:

    Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 9.06.37 AM.png
    Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 9.06.44 AM.png
    (My rank tracker includes Google Places, so #17 is really like #7 in the organic results)

    Moral of this story:
    • Don't freak out when you get hit by the algorithm, just start trying to figure out why it happened. You'll never find what happened unless you take the initiative.
    • Don't redirect an old domain that used aggressive anchor text because it will be counted along with the other links you're building to the new domain. This is obvious, but sometimes stupid mistakes are made in SEO. Don't ask me what I was thinking because that was the dumbest thing I have done in awhile.
    • In my experience, most drops in ranking are because of anchor text mistakes. Repeating exact match anchors is not a good idea if you're trying to rank a website long term and be safe from future updates. This is not to say that it doesn't work because repeating anchors works really well for churn and burn / short term campaigns.

    Why are the rankings recovering?
    I think just removing the 301 alone would have helped the site recover, but you can never be too safe with anchor text. All the links I built / ordered during this one day period will make getting this site to #1 even easier.

    Please let me know if you guys have any questions or clarifications. I'll try to respond as quickly as possible. Thanks

    I have ZERO involvement with any of the services above. They are just my "go-to" services on BHW because they work really well for me.
    • Thanks Thanks x 3
    Last edited: May 25, 2014