Boost in Traffic after Manual Penalty Lifted


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Note: due to our contracts, the client related to this case study must be anonymous. However, if you have any questions inspired by this document, please contact us at

The Situation:

A professional services firm with multiple locations throughout the U.S. were suffering from a manual penalty in the summer of 2014, leading to a huge drop of natural search-driven leads. Greenlane Search Marketing, LLC was tasked with identifying the problem and providing the solution(s) needed to have the penalty revoked.

Identification of Issues:

Identification of unnatural inbound links causing the penalty was the next course of action. Using more than 6 data sources, including techniques invented in house, we realized we were dealing with more than a cut-and-dry unnatural link penalty. The issue in this case was twofold:

  1. Unnatural links from 3-5 years beforehand had come back to bite the client as they now fell outside of Google Webmaster Guidelines. These unnatural links primarily consisted of low-level link-building (comment spam, forum comments, etc.) conducted by the client’s then-SEO firm. The worst part: the client was totally unaware of their SEO firm conducting these types of link-building efforts.
  2. Either because of previous recommendations and/or lack of knowledge, the client created separate content blogs for each of their practice areas, all of which lived off the client’s root site and on their own domains. While the content was strong, it consequently became a network of duplicate content and unnatural links.

The Fix:

Through careful, manual consideration of thousands of backlink, we helped the client clean up their unnatural profile. We provided recommendations to free their domains from manual scrutiny.  With powerful data to drive our campaign and efforts, the penalty was lifted within 2 weeks of the disavow and re-inclusion request.

With the penalty lifted, our team was able to immediately focus on replacing the links with stronger links that brought their natural search traffic higher than before their penalty, while making them safe for future Penguin and manual penalties.

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