From our Manchester SEO Agency, Gorilla Marketing works on the SEO for a specialist company in the maintenance and installation of a widely used industrial product. The client initially approached us asking if we were able to sort out their website rankings for their company name. Established for over 8 years, a previous SEO company had linked to their site with a very substandard PBN, leaving them penalized and showing up on page 6 for branded searches.

7 months later, the client not only ranks for their company name but enjoy top search engine rankings for competitive industry-specific keywords. Combined with a successful AdWords campaign our client has seen an attributable increase in web leads of at least 436%.


The first order of business was recovering the website from what was a pretty severe penalty. As previously mentioned, our clients’ site was on page 6 for all branded search terms, despite a knowledge graph and their / Trustpilot pages occupying the top spots.

It was pretty obvious that the website quality wasn’t up to standard to begin with. Non-responsive and poor content, the first thing we needed to do was give the website a complete overhaul. Simultaneously we did a full backlink audit to find out which links were causing Google to spam box the website.

The PBN the last web guy used horrendous. Added to that the anchor text was 100% exact match keyword all to the homepage. The next task was then disavowing these links. While this was being done, we were also finishing up the website. This phase took approximately 2 weeks and the following onsite changes were implemented:

  • Build a new, responsive WordPress website.
  • Silo the website into the different service categories.
  • Create a 1000+ word page on each different service.
  • Create a blog (+15 posts) and category silos.
  • All the standard on-page stuff (tags/alts/h3 etc.).
  • Video creation, embed and reverse linking.

Once the website was up to standard, the disavow file was submitted and we re-crawled the website a few times on GWMT. Then, on day 17 of the project, the bounce back literally happened overnight. The site was back to ranking number one for its brand name and even a sitemap was displayed underneath the website in the SERPs (see the picture, right). This was our first experience recovering a website after the last Penguin update, so overall a very smooth and hassle-free experience.

On day 26 of the project the site recovered from its penalty. The site was back to ranking number one for its brand name and even a sitemap was displayed underneath the website in the SERPs (see the picture, right). This was our first experience recovering a website after the last Penguin update, so overall a very smooth and hassle-free experience.

WEEK 5 - WEEK 17

The penalty was lifted, but we couldn’t find any case studies on the new Penguin update showing when it was safe to start linking to the website again. We didn’t want to do anything to harm the site after having done so well to get it right, so we really had to be cautious with how we proceeded. After having sat down and chatted among ourselves for a bit, we decided that the plan was to not build a single link to it for the next two to three months. During this time though, we would implement the following strategies to assist the overall online marketing plan:

  • Started a Google AdWords Campaign / set up retargeting to generate ROI on spend.
  • Started outreach to relevant websites to assess link opportunities.
  • Consistently produced blog posts & videos for the website.
  • Internal linking to pages and silos.
  • Running ads on Facebook to the sites blog posts.

The above Webmaster Tools screenshot shows the period just after recovery to around the middle of month 4 (week 6 – week 18). As seen, things are going pretty steady for a while (averaging around 800 impressions a day). Compared to when the project started though, this is already a 577% increase in impressions – but we were still on page 3+ for all major keywords, so it didn’t mean anything too tangible.

The big jump we see during the middle of month 4 (roughly 70 days after the site penalty was lifted) was when the main keywords had all jumped to page 1 and 2 over the course of a couple of days. Having built no links at all to the website as of yet, and relied solely on on-page SEO, social ads and content quality – this jump meant to us that Google was fully trusting of the client website again, and going forward we were confident that any linking would not harm the website.

WEEK 18 - WEEK 30

At the start of week 18 the service pages that we built roughly 16 weeks ago are ranking on page 2 and 3 for their respective keywords. This has all been achieved just by virtue of all the on-page SEO that has been done to the website. The adverts we’ve been running had also been bringing in a good return on the overall marketing spend, and we were confident in starting the next stage – an assault on the organic listings. At the end of 18 weeks the rankings looked as follows for the main keywords:

KeywordCampaign StartWeek 18
Brand Name511
Main Keyword 1-21
Main Keyword 2-17
Main Keyword 3-14
Main Keyword 4-23
Main Keyword 5-16
Main Keyword 6-22

All looking pretty good after 4 months even if there wasn’t a penalty involved, so we were super chuffed with everything (as was the client!). Behind the scenes, while we were waiting for what we guessed would sort of be a safe time to start linking, we had collected a list of around ~150 sites that we wanted links from. Over the course of this three-month period we worked at getting 2-3 links a week. The rate that we did them were as follows:

  • Week 18 – Week 20: Built links to blog posts, homepage and the silos on the website.
  • Week 21 – Week 22: Built links to the home page, silos and naked links to service page.
  • Week 23 – Week 28: 1 x anchor link to each service, more naked and homepage links.
  • Week 29: Homepage links and links to blog articles.

After week 23 we had our first keyword hit the front page, and after week 27 all the keywords were on page one and a couple in top 3. Exactly 30 weeks after the client approached us with a penalized website, their rankings were as follows:

KeywordCampaign StartWeek 18Week 30
Brand Name5111
Main Keyword 1-212
Main Keyword 2-173
Main Keyword 3-141
Main Keyword 4-233
Main Keyword 5-164
Main Keyword 6-222

The image below shows the Google WMT search analytics from week 19 through to week 30:


This is a project that we’re particularly proud of. Not only was it taking a penalized website and getting it to number 1 (which is a little feather in the SEO cap) – the results have actually had a tangible effect on our clients business. They have been established for 8 years, and the penalization had had a severe impact on their bottom line. Since coming onboard with Gorilla Marketing though, and after 7 months of working with us, we’re really proud to say that there has been an attributable increase in site leads by 436%!

If you would like to talk to us about doing a similar project for your business, please feel free to get in touch.