Case Study: Manual Action + Panda Recovery in 2014

This past year we’ve been working with a client to get them out of their manual action. We’d been working with them since June 2013, normally it takes us a couple of months to do a full link check, removal and disavow to get a penalty lifted, but sometimes clients can be protective over links and there was a bit of a battle over what we could and couldn’t remove. We went through two failed reconsideration requests in 2013, as a result the site failed to get out of it’s manual penalty and disavowed hundreds of domains setting the website on a spiral of doom with rankings dropping further and further.

Like a lot of retailers, they rely on the traffic they get on the run up to Christmas, as Christmas approached the penalty still wasn’t lifted so shortly before Christmas hit we 301 redirected their whole site to a new domain, the tactic worked and they got a short term, well needed boost before Christmas (it probably removed their penalty for a week, just long enough to see them through Christmas).

Penalty Passed Via 301 Redirect After Site Move

But when we came back after Christmas, things were not good. The manual action got passed through the 301 redirect (as we suspected it would), but got hit further – the client was back in danger territory with a 67% year on year drop in organic traffic:


At this point things were desperate and so the client agreed to remove and disavow all the links we had marked as bad, we got these removed and submitted a disavow and a reconsideration request for their old domain.

Manual Action Revoked

After a very tense 25 days we were rewarded with a “Manual spam action revoked” message in Google Webmaster Tools – and a big boost to their rankings and organic traffic, with Google organic increasing 256% compared to the previous week:


This gave them a strong February, with an annual increase in Google organic of 29%. But we didn’t stop there…

Panda Recovery

We’d made a load of recommendations, technically the site was fine, but we embarked on a load of quality recommendations – recommendations based on what we thought should work, the results were astounding, they saw an increase from Panda in March 2014, with the last week in March seeing a year on year increase of 139% in Google organic traffic:


So what did we change?

  • They had a lot of anchor text links within their product content, we had these removed.
  • We de-optimised a lot of title tags and content where there was repeated use of particular keywords.
  • We merged very similar categories, such as “shoes for men” and “mens shoes”.
  • We de-optimised the links to the categories.

And it’s still holding today, despite Panda 4.0.

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  • Anthony Shapley

    Good work Whitehouse.

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