Case Study

Algorithmic Penalty Recovery


This social media marketing site specializes in selling monthly subscriptions to achieve better social proof on Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks. The goal for this campaign was to determine what type of algorithmic penalty hit the site and to take action on getting it lifted.

Website History

The client joined The Search Initiative with a heavy algorithmic penalty. Traffic at the time had decreased significantly to almost 1/10th of the previous volume.

Issues Holding Website Back

Spammy Link Profile
Technical On-Site Issues
Keyword Cannibalisation

Course of Action

We manually reviewed the link profile by first collecting links data from Google Search Console, AHREFS, Majestic, Moz and SEMRush. Following a list of criteria, we reviewed each of the links pointing towards the site to determine toxicity and added suspicious URLs/domains to the disavow file.

The next step taken was a full, comprehensive onsite audit where we reviewed the site and created an in-depth 30-page document addressing many onsite, technical and content related issues. We worked with the client on fixing these issues across the site, reduced the amount of thin and duplicated content pages, optimised page speed, HTTPS conflicts.

Keyword cannibalisation proved to be another issue for one of the core pages that the client was targeting. To fix this, we deoptimized the colliding page and suggested new page titles, headings and meta descriptions for both of the pages that were cannibalized. After the fix, the core page we were targeting jumped over 20 positions into the first page.

Our strategy following the audit was to target easy wins to get return on investment for the client and improve visibility by pushing core keywords in the top 3 pages into the first page. Once traffic was brought to normal, we focused on improving CTR and CRO to capitalise on the increased visibility.


Since lifting the penalty, we saw a 388.48% revenue increase, 1,186.99% ROI increase, 7,610.70% leads increase and 377% CTR increase.

Comparing against the starting month, we gained the following results:

  • 15,644.04% increase in search traffic from 1,308 to 205,932 sessions a month.
  • 9,109.56% increase in search traffic from 1,036 to 95,411 users a month.

Here’s how the client’s site is doing now:


"Worked with Will and his team for a couple of months now. They are very professional and service oriented. Deliver on time and super responsive when I have had any questions or concerns."

Pär L Review

Pär L, SW Gambling Affiliate

"Great service. Each month our traffic increases and we get tons of new leads. The only issue for us is keeping on top of all the new business!"

Steve C Review

Steve C, USA Investment Website Owner

"The Search Initiative really know they're stuff; took our site from nowhere to first page of Google for lots of really important keywords. We'd happily recommend them."

Jon N Review

Jon N, UK Property Website Owner

"We are ranking a large site for multiple terms and whilst the foundations are still being laid in the project we can see the value and the future position of our site - this is one agency I would have no hesitation in recommending to anyone who is serious about growing their business!"

James T Website Owner

"I think your team has done a wonderful job. Jonny does great work and is a very knowledgeable project manger. I would recommend your services to others that are looking for a hands-off SEO approach."

Brad W Review

Brad W A Conversion Rate Optimisation Agency

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