SEO Case Study: A Remarkable Traffic Turnaround After Being Hit by a Google Penalty

In the dynamic world of digital marketing, an ecommerce client found themselves at a crossroads in April 2023.

With ambitions to scale and capitalize on the year-end shopping frenzy, they sought the expertise of an SEO agency.

As with most SEO agencies, their main strategy is to create backlinks to the site, which is actually against Google’s TOS (terms of service). Engineered backlinking is frowned upon and if they are created from sites that are built just as a “link farm”, then it will be a problem.

Generally, if an agency promises a client a certain amount of keywords to rank for, then that is a very clear sign of an aggressive backlinking strategy. The trick is to use the exact keywords as “anchor texts” to backlink from external sites. So, if you are promised 10 keywords to rank for, then these 10 exact keywords will be used to create backlinks on a multitude of sites.

It is extremely difficult to do cold outreach to site owners and ask for a backlink, so, it is almost certain that the links are bought from link farms or sites selling them. Link farms are basically sites with very thin/unuseful content that just sell backlinks and are a major spam headache for internet users.

This strategy is a very risky one and can easily get a site penalized.

Initial progress for the client was promising, but traffic started to plummet in July 2023, likely due to a Google penalty. This led them to part ways with their existing agency and turn to us to help them recover from the major drop.

Our Strategy

The journey with this client was not just about recovery but about setting a new benchmark in their digital presence.

  • Identifying all toxic backlinks and disavowed them from the site. We had to also manually reach out to some of the site owners to ask them to take those links down.
  • Google loves lots of strong and helpful content, so we layered existing product pages with robust, intent-based informational content.
  • We also studied the searcher’s intent and user behavior, and then created new and/or edited existing content on the site.
  • Keyword research to create topical maps using relevant keywords and their semantic variations.
  • Creating content clusters to build topical authority.
  • Enhancing E-E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness, and Experience)
  • Meta tag optimization (including product titles, descriptions, and attributes) to align with local language and preferences
  • Strategic internal linking to distribute SEO equity effectively across the site. This also sends contextually relevant semantics for each web page to Google’s algorithm.


  • Luck was on our side and the site completely recovered from Google’s penalty quite fast.
  • A staggering growth in organic traffic value, almost 600 times the initial figures.
  • The website emerged as an authority in its niche, ready to make the most of the year-end shopping season.

traffic turnaround after google penalty

Our client’s success story underscores the importance of proper solid white-hat SEO executions and understanding the mechanisms of search engines.

In the realm of SEO, it’s not just about bouncing back; it’s about soaring to new heights!

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