I was approached by a Express Catering, a mobile catering company based in the South West back in December, shortly after my articles on identifying and recovering from Google Panda and Penguin went live. They thought that it was likely their website had been a victim of the Google Penguin update, and asked me to carry out an SEO Audit to identify whether this was the case and what we could do about it.
Ironically, they had enlisted the services of 'SEO Experts' to help them rank for their main keywords prior to the Penguin update, which had worked previously with the company being organically ranked as the top listing for their keywords of 'mobile catering' consistently.
Post penguin update, Express Catering seemed to have disappeared completely, and as a result had to plough money into their Adwords campaigns to ensure that they still had a prominent position for their main keywords in search engine listings. This gave them the impression that their domain had been blacklisted completely from Google, however on further investigation this was fortunately found not to be the case. Express Catering were still ranking for some long-tail keyword combinations (where more than two keywords are used when searching) but their main keyword combinations had indeed disappeared.
After a bit more digging, I uncovered the reason behind this sudden absence in their promonent location. Unfortunately the company they had enlisted - who proclaim to be Panda and Penguin friendly in their SEO work [you can be the judge of that statement!] - had listed them in thousands of thin-content, inappropriate directories all over the world, mostly owned by them and none of them relevant in any way to the mobile catering industry. As you will know if you've had a look at my article on the subject, the Penguin update cracked down heavily on this kind of un-natural link building practice and literally ignores any incoming links from such sources. With the incoming link traffic being disregarded, which was one of the main reasons why Express Catering were ranking on the first page, they disappeared into obscurity.
How did you find out what the problem was?
I carried out an initial audit for Express Catering and the results were actually quite staggering. Below you can see the before and after, with the red line indicating the approximate roll-out of the Penguin update. This is showing organic search traffic from Google only.
Perhaps most startling was the difference in the traffic for their main keywords - terms which were essential to the business winning more work and being found when somebody was searching for the services of a mobile catering provider.
|Keyword||Change in traffic post-penguin|
|Mobile catering companies||-84.62|
What did you do about it?
Firstly the most important thing to address was the link building campaign which was still ongoing. Express Catering were using the domain www.expresscatering.biz, which was being aggressively added to more and more directories each day. Even with this activity halted, removal from the directories was likely to take a long time and required co-operation of the company who had carried out the link building to effect removal. We didn't have time to wait for this to happen, and fortunately Express Catering also owned the domain www.mobilecatering.biz which they used for their blog.
Given the difficulties we were likely to face in de-indexing their domain,. the decision was taken to port all their content from their old site over to the site hosting their blog, which was powered by Wordpress. Within two days, Express Catering were back ranking on page one of Google and rankings in other search engines were also starting to improve.
An unexpected bonus of moving to the new website and platform was a dramatic increase in the number of pages viewed per visit - an increase of 189% - with the bounce rate (the percentage of visitors landing on the page and then leaving immediately) dropping from around 50% to 0%. Throughout December and into January organic traffic started to flow through again for the main keywords, which saw significant increases in traffic compared to before I started working on the site - every keyword experienced a minimum improvement of 50%, with most imrproving by over 100%!
Can you help me?
Absolutely! I have worked with several companies who have experienced similar problems to Express Catering and we've had some great results. I can send you some examples of the kind of reports I produce and how we work together to resolve problems. Be warned though, I do expect you to be involved in the process. I'm not an expert in your industry, and I don't have all the specialist knowledge and technical skills that you have - recovering from this kind of problem takes time, and it takes sustained effort.
Get in contact and let me know what you think the problem might be, what do you have to lose?