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The Company

Vacation Rental Pros is an e-commerce travel website with over 500 vacation rental homes and condos available to their customers. They also own a property management company, Vacation Rental Pros Property that offers rental management services to homeowners. The majority of their bookings come from their website, so SEO plays a large role in their business.

The Challenge

Remove Google Penalties and Resolve an Unexpected Drop in Organic Traffic

Vacation Rental Pros had some major SEO issues. As they explained:

A year ago, I launched a new updated website and immediately began to see issues with reduced traffic from our Organic Search.

The new website update Vacation Rental Pros implemented resulted in a significant drop in organic search traffic. They decided to turn to us, the Hamlet Batista Group, to help them with this troubling discovery, as Mr. Milo states:

I hired Hamlet to analyze my online organic traffic and website structure and to advise me of ways to improve.

As our team embarked upon exploring the situation, we uncovered another serious SEO issue. As Vacation Rental Pros noted:

In August of 2013, Hamlet noticed that our organic search was beginning to decline based on reports he was running. After careful research and analysis, he concluded that a part of our web site was being penalized by Google.

Our Approach

As with every client, our team of skilled SEO analysts delved into the task of uncovering the technical issues that were causing the reduction in organic traffic, leaving nothing to chance.

Regarding their Google penalties, we charged straight to the source and contacted Google directly, as Mr. Milo professes:

Hamlet then took the time to contact Google to determine the issues. It was determined we had links created by a previous ad agency that were considered to be commercial and/or link farms.

We discovered that the spam links were a result of black hat tactics implemented by a previous SEO agency hired by Vacation Rental Pros. Without hesitation, we expedited a manual backlink spam analysis.

Our technical analysis of the Vacation Rental Pros website revealed a number of potential obstacles limiting organic search traffic, such as:

  • Robots.txt was blocking images, css, and JavaScript files
  • Robots.txt was not blocking checkout, booking, and internal search results pages
  • Faceted navigation issues
  • No canonicalization of site pages
  • Inconsistent internal linking
  • URL mapping issues
  • Significant number of duplicate page titles and Meta descriptions
  • Indexed content was alarmingly many times over the amount of estimated pages
  • High number of 404 (not found) pages
  • No mobile site implemented although mobile search queries represented nearly 50% of queries
  • Nearly all images lacked image alt tags

In addition to providing Vacation Rental Pros with our comprehensive technical SEO audit, we included a competitor benchmarking and link analysis, a keyword strategy guide, and compiled content ideas. We then prioritized the issues to address in order of effectiveness and effort.

The Solution

Our solution for helping Vacation Rental Pros involved working with the VRP developers through the implementation our recommendations. As they stated:

Hamlet immediately found issues with the new web site’s structure and redirects that he was able to correct in a few weeks.

Some of the directives included:

  • Utilize canonical links on all pages
  • Permanently redirect 404 error pages to same or similar pages
  • Implement “NoFollow” tags to all faceted navigation links to avoid duplicate content issues.
  • Adjust robots.txt to unblock css, JavaScript, and images
  • Add “noindex,nofollow” meta tags to checkout, booking, and search result pages,  then edit robots.txt to block those pages, once Google has dropped them from the index.
  • Create unique and compelling page titles and Meta descriptions
  • Map static pages to dynamic pages using our recommended rewrite rules
  • Implement image alt tags

As we worked diligently with the developers through the technical rectification process, we addressed all questions and concerns and continually monitored the progress, while quickly rectifying any additional issues encountered.

We also systematically reviewed and classified each of their incoming links and submitted vital disavow documents to Google in order to remove the link spam penalty inflicted upon them. With much relief, Mr. Milo proclaims:

Hamlet worked with Google to disavow these links and to also contact these sites to get them removed.

The Results

We are immensely pleased that we were able to help Vacation Rental Pros see their organic search traffic not only recover, but also improve, and that the penalties by Google were removed. Mr. Milo shares this:

Although this whole process of getting out of Google penalties took several months, Hamlet was dedicated and focused throughout the entire process and never lost confidence that it would get resolved in our favor. By December, the Google penalties were lifted and our organic traffic actually increased. For the month of February 2014, our organic traffic was up 85% over the previous year.

Additionally, we helped Vacation Rental Pros increase their revenue in various ways:

Hamlet has also made some changes in my marketing strategies and led me to a new technological solution that I was surprised I could afford. Hamlet has helped me increase my revenue in some surprising ways.

We feel honored that Vacation Rental Pros was very satisfied with their decision to initially hire us and we look forward to assisting them as they grow their company. As Mr. Milo confirms:

I made the decision to keep Hamlet on a monthly retainer and I definitely made the right decision.

I could not be more pleased with the way Hamlet has helped my e-business. Hamlet is not only an expert at making business improvements, but a genuinely nice person. Hamlet patiently answered my many questions, explained technical concepts with which I was not familiar, and made me feel comfortable with the changes.

If you are looking for ways to grow your e-business on the organic search side, make your web site more efficient, and produce more for less cost, I highly recommend Hamlet Batista’s consulting services. I believe that you would be very pleased with the results. Please feel free to contact me for more information at 904-707-1487 or stevemilo@yahoo.com