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The Company

Marco is one of the industry’s leading providers of ‘Promotional Products’. They provide a complete selection of high-quality, custom printed marketing items and identification solutions and supplies backed by superior service.

The Challenge

Fix Suspect Links & Remove Google Penalties

Previously, Marco had hired another SEO agency, which resulted in the site incurring damaging Google penalties. Marco then hired the Hamlet Batista Group to help them fix the detrimental issues created by the other agency and remove their Google penalties, and properly improve their site SEO. As CEO of Marco Promotional Products, Dick Nelson, recalls:

Unfortunately, I spent a significant amount of money with an agency that had promised to take us to SEO Heaven but instead took us the other direction. We probably should have been quicker to see the problem but after a few months, we noticed a spike in traffic but not much coming from the increased traffic. As it turned out, they’d built thousands upon thousands on incoming links of suspect origin and shortly thereafter, we went to Google jail when they hit us with a manual penalty…obviously we were in a bad spot.

Our Approach

As a number one priority, we reviewed and assessed each of their incoming links to determine which specific links caused the Google penalties. Next, we examined all technical aspects of the site from a SEO perspective. We discovered several issues potentially deterring ranking and crawl ability by search engines, such as:

  • Robots.txt was blocking CSS and JavaScript files
  • Robots.txt was not blocking secure (https) pages
  • Pages blocked by robots.txt did not contain “noindex,nofollow” tags
  • Redundant sitemaps
  • Duplicate content issues
  • Excessive number of 404 (not found) pages
  • Non-useful generic 404 error page
  • No canonical tags on pages
  • Improper pagination
  • Redundant URL parameters
  • Low number of pages indexed by Google
  • Far more internal links than pages/products
  • Inconsistent linking
  • No mobile site, while 10% of traffic was from mobile queries
  • No authorship mark-up on blog
  • Non-branded page title tags
  • Insufficient meta descriptions
  • Pages void of content that only contained navigation elements

As part of every site assessment, we also compiled a competitor link analysis, benchmarking analysis, and devised content ideas.

The Solution

The solution to Marco’s number one issue of the Google penalty was our careful and thorough assessment of spam links to its site and successful submission of required documentation to Google.

In regards to the SEO issues, we drafted a comprehensive report of recommendations that included, though was not limited to, the following:

  • Create a robots.txt file for https
  • Update robots.txt to allow CSS and Javascript
  • Remove duplicate sitemaps and create new sitemaps containing unique canonicals
  • Ensure that pages listed in sitemaps do not contain “noindex” tags
  • Add “noindex,nofollow” tags to pages blocked by robots.txt
  • Simplify URLs and configure URL parameters in Google Webmaster Tools
  • Add canonical tags to pages
  • Improve pagination with pagination tags and proper canonicalization
  • Block navigational elements that cause excessive crawling of internal links on pages
  • Redirect obsolete and 404 pages to a parent category page, or an equivalent page
  • Create unique page title tags that include the company name
  • Create compelling meta descriptions specific to content and product characteristics
  • Associate Google authorship to blog authors
  • Create a more useful 404 error page that includes a site search option, an option to contact the webmaster, and a simple html sitemap
  • Implement either a responsive site theme or a mobile site

As part of our commitment to every client, we also worked closely with the Marco team, consulting with its web developers throughout the implementation of our recommendations and were always available to address any questions and concerns. We also assisted with a strategic implementation of a new content-laden resource section.

The Results

Proudly, we can testify that working with Marco resulted in the removal of their Google penalties, improved technical SEO functioning of the site, and increased site value to its users. As Mr. Nelson declares:

Hamlet was a lifesaver for us. He told us going in that the fix would not happen overnight, as the magnitude of the problem was significant. Within 90 days, a shorter amount of time than he’d originally promised, Hamlet got our penalty removed. He also identified issues on our site that needed to be fixed and guided us through the process of making these changes. Once we were out of Google jail and had fixed the issues on our site, Hamlet helped us develop and execute a strategy to attract more valued buyers…helping us develop our site as a resource, or destination for others looking to make their business or event a success.

Happily, we can also report that the Marco executives are extremely satisfied with their decision to hire us to help them with the Google penalties and their SEO efforts. As they proclaim:

Hamlet is very knowledgeable when it comes to technical issues and can quickly rally his team to rescue or improve a site. He was able to interact with our own site developers to facilitate implementation of best practices. I thought Hamlet was particularly helpful in guiding us through the process…setting the list of priorities and then executing on them. If you work with Hamlet, you’ll quickly discover that there is not an SEO road he has not been down and you’ll be getting the benefit of his exposure to what works and doesn’t work with his other clients. On top of that, Hamlet is an easy and fun guy to work with.