SEO Case Study – NSW Fencing Contractor

SEO case study on the Mint Fencing website, Minto NSW: this one comes with a twist…

Everyone has heard of, or suffered from, shoddy work done by incompetent and unethical SEO agencies… However, reputable SEO consultants can also get burned by unethical clients…

This WordPress website SEO project began with a Technical SEO Audit review which identified an array of issues:

  • Toxic links: including an astounding array of keyword-rich deep links to the images on internal pages from low quality sites.
  • Algorithmic penalties: severe impact from Google’s December 2022 algorithms onwards…
  • Keyword spam in image galleries – most of the few ranking were to Images in Google Image search
  • Keyword stuffing on every single page, into every crack and crevice – including “Mintfencing” and “Mint fencing” in pages and SEO Descriptions. Nothing screams “incompetence” louder than that…
  • Low quality content: duplicated content, excessive common content, spelling, grammar & punctuation issues.Incompleted sentences where someone lost their train of thought and never came back to complete them.
  • Low grade shared hosting: slow and on the designer’s account, precluding direct access for optimising settings.
  • Poor Cloudflare configuration: the site was on Cloudflare but the settings were done with zero comprehension of optimal configuration. Not even any page rules, so Admin area “logged in” pages were also being cached.
  • No caching: and no image optimisation
  • Page Builder: built very badly using Elementor and Elementor Pro and a “custom” design theme rife with CSS / HTML errors, and deprecated PHP functions. Ridiculous and totally unnecessary complexity in terms of headers,and footers, widgets and loading of different content for mobile and desktop.
  • Security: none whatsoever

All in all, this website was an utter disaster from end to end…

Website Seo Audit 1
SEO Audit 2

Page Load Speed:

Page load speed optimisation and Core Web Vitals was best described as suboptimal…

Core Web Vitals

Benchmark SERPs Report: 8th May 2023

The majority of rankings were for images in Google Image Search: and that’s it!!!

SERPs Benchmark2023 05 08

Search Console Performance

George was very coy about who had worked on the SEO and the design, I never got a straight answer about any aspect of that.

FROM ME: Can you answer a couple of questions please?

  1. What month and year did you employ the previous SEO guys to work on the website? 
  2. What year and month was the website rebuilt? 

I’m trying to figure out what was done and when, and assess if there’s any correlation between that work and traffic and & position drops that have obviously occurred subsequently

FROM GEORGE: Fri, 07 Jul 2023 7:59:58 AM +0700INBOX

Hello Ben

I had one good SEO guy Raj Valma 

And I had others I think i moved around too much With SEO work 

Sent from my iPhone

So my impression was that more than several people dabbled in the SEO… I’d guess those persons were not native English speakers and were working from the 2010 edition of “SEO for Dummies.”

Raj Valma: his name and email address was referenced in one of George’s messages and its clear George was going to replace my services with his… My guess is that he might be implicated in the password change that locked me out of the website and the hosting cPanel. (On the grounds that George is probably not technically proficient enough to do that himself.) I sent “Raj Valma” an email with a link to this SEO Case study. To date, he has not responded…

I suggest caution in dealing with anyone associated with Raj Valma’s email addresses:

What I could see in Google Search Console is that the site was badly affected by the Google algorithm in December: as per illustration below

Search Console Screenshot 2023 06 15
  • That was likely due to the very poor content quality on the site, where every service-type page and every location page was basically a clone with only the main keyword target phrase and images being changed.
  • Images in galleries repeated the same keywords – which constitutes keyword spam. 
  • Excess of warm fuzzy “filler” content with no inherent value except increasing the word count.
  • Lots of spelling errors, incorrect punctuation and grammar, unfinished sentences – all of which has a negative impact on rankings. For example: using “Monowill” instead of “Monowills” and “stachion” instead of “stanchion” in the page and the menu. There were lots of basic errors like that…
  • There were ZERO internal cross-links in every page – and that is the 2nd most important element on any website.
  • Many pages targeted the wrong (and sometimes ridiculous) keywords. Often, a “0” search volume phrase was used instead of a relevant higher-volume search phrase. This indicates inexperienced keyword research.
  • No attempt to implement a range of relevant keyword phrases and synonyms was made on any pages, indicating a deficiency in keyword research comprehension in previous SEO efforts. 

Example: the Colorbond page which focused only on “Colorbond Fencing” as the keyword phrase. When I expanded the content to include multiple other relevant relevant keyword phrases and synonyms, and rewrote the page to eliminate the text duplication, spelling errors etc, there was an immediate reaction at Google’s end…

Colorbond Keywords

Instead of ranking only the images – the images dropped out and the page itself suddenly jumped into position.

Colorbond Keyword Rankings

SERPs Interim Report: 15th June 2023

I’ve optimised every page on the site, in order to increase the rankings. I’ve done my best to ensure page content is far more accurate and pertinent to the page’s title. Elimination of spelling and grammer, sentence structure and punctuation errrors was done. Keyword stuffing removed in text and images. Page load speed optimisation, WP Rocket Cache, image optimisation, web application firewall, brute force login protection, Asset Cleanup etc… Implementation of “Local Business” Schema data and citation links building to improve the prospects of attaining Local 3 Pack results in Google Maps.

At the same time, I’ve significantly enhanced the business information quality via Google Business Profile optimisation too… Added multiple new “Products” and added relevant text in many of the “Services.” 

I used SEMRUSH.com and Sitechecker.com Auditing tools, plus my usual desktop Website Auditor software. I’ve used Siteliner to fnd and eliminate all the duplicate content… Things slowly but surely got better.

  • We now see previously missing Area/Location pages appearing in rankings…
  • Coupled with a reduction in Image rankings in return for Page rankings
SERPs June 15 2023a
SERPs June 15 2023b
SERPs June 15 2023c
SERPs June 15 2023d
SERPs June 15 2023e
SERPs June 15 2023f

SEO Case Study – Project Summary

The client was never happy about any of the results. George was extremely impatient from the outset. I explained multiple times that the global SEO expert’s consensus is that on-Page optimisation results won’t usually show up until at least 4 months. And most people expect 6 months to a year to achieve good results… He simply refused to listen, comprehend or accept this.

Algorithmic Penalty

It became more and more obvious that there were multiple algorithmic penaties at play… These are hard to eliminate and it takes Google a long time to forgive serious transgressions.

In July, another crucial algorithm update rolled out, with the emphasis on Core Web Vitals. These metrics, which measure a site’s performance, became a more prominent ranking factor.

At the end of the month I cancelled a long-anticipated fishing weekend with my two small boys. I spend over 20 hours replacing the disastrous design theme with Generatepress. That did two things:

1.) Eliminated the last of the serious technical SEO issues

Image 5

2.) Got the entire site into the 90s performance score on Google Page Speed Insights

Image 6

The client was completely underwhelmed by this…

He decided to dispense with my services…

Firing The SEO Guy... how rude!

Bearing in mind that we have a contractual agreement for 4 monthly payments and this is the end of the 3rd month… So I’m being shafted on the 4th and final payment and he’s not paying for the website redesign?

My reply was in the form of a reality check.

From The SEO Guy to George…


Please read this very carefully… on your Mac and not the phone would be sensible. 

I will assemble the login details for all aspects of the site and forward those to you presently. If that’s really what you want… 

Here’s today’s Reality Check:

This situation is made more difficult by:

  • Your lack of acceptance of just how serious incurring a Google algorithmic penalty is.
  • And your refusal to understand and accept that these penalties cannot be resolved quickly.

You have to understand and accept that you screwed up big-time by hiring idiots last year.

I’ve busted my balls on this, doing multiple tasks that are way outside my project brief. At a guess, at least an extra 100 hours at this point, plus paying out subscription costs to different auditing services to verify/validate what my own expensive software was saying:

  • – SEMRUSH.COM – US$129 per month
  • – Sitechecker.pro – US$33 per month

I’ve provided you with real-world authoritative articles from the world’s leading SEO authorities on the severity of a Google algorithmic penalty, outlining how long it takes to recover. 

PLEASE HAVE THE COURTESY TO READ THESE ARTICLES NOW:

  • This is not me looking for excuses. This is what the best SEO experts in the world think. 
  • And good luck with finding anyone who thinks differently…

1 – https://www.searchlogistics.com/learn/seo/algorithm/google-penalty-recovery-process/

Image

2 – https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-answers-how-long-it-takes-to-recover-from-algorithmic-penalty/475768/  – Google says:

Image 1

3 – https://neilpatel.com/blog/google-penalty/  – halfway down the page: “How Soon Will My Site Recover From a Google Penalty?”

Image 2

THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET! NO ONE ON EARTH CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN FASTER!

  • Sure, you can go off to someone else…
  • I’ve already done all the hard work…
  • Over the next weeks and months, they will get the credit for the work I’ve already done (assuming they are actually competent and don’t screw it all up all over again)…

At this point – TODAY – your website’s page “Impressions” and keyword “Positions” on Google are back to where they were before the Google penalty hit your website!

  • The site fell off the cliff on 4th January – the average keyword position went from 39 to 50.7 over a 10 day period. See “1” on the chart below
  • The lowest point was 3rd June when the average keyword position was 51.7 – See “2” on the chart below. But its been on the way up ever since…
  • Today, the average keyword position is 35.7 – See “3” on the chart below.

IN FACT: the best ever Average Position previously was 35.5 on 1st November 2022 and we are only .2 off that previous high… 

NOTE: Data in the chart below is from Google Search Console… this is how Google is assessing the website. This is not bullshit anyone is feeding you.This is Google showing you the real-world consequences of your website changes!!!

Therefore, it is demonstrably clear that I’ve apparently patched all the holes and refloated your previously shipwrecked website. 

You had people do misguided and incompetent SEO in August / September last year and you got the website redesigned by an idiot!

  • Keyword stuffing in every possible place, hidden link texts and god only knows what else!
  • Pages filled with poorly written content in bad English, poor sentence structure, spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.
  • The first “fencing” page was “duplicated” and used for every other page, with only the main keywords and images changed.  
  • Keyword Average Position popped up a little bit and Impressions in search engine results pages went up a lot!

And then, in late December the Google algorithm uncovered all the keyword spam and sundry other breaches of Google’s Terms of Service and Guidelines. 

Therefore, your website got toasted!!! It was a self-inflicted injury – and you should sue the arses off the morons responsible for it!

HOWEVER: since I began fixing the total shipwreck disaster that your website’s hosting, design and SEO was…

The vital signs (Position & Impressions) have slowly but steadily turned upward from the lowest point on 3rd June and have trended that way ever since.   

The site’s woefully built design theme was replaced and the Elementor Pro bloat has been eliminated.

The revised site only went live only 3 days ago!!!

– and the keywords Average Position has already improved from 42.9 to 35.5! 

Image 4
  • Average Keyword Position is UP
  • Average Impressions is UP

THOSE ARE THE FACTS:

There is a good volume of visitors arriving on the website:

AWStats: from the server logs

Image 9

Cloudflare Stats: from the content delivery network.

Image 10

BUT THE TWO THINGS I CANNOT DO ARE:

  1. MAKE THE WEBSITE VISITORS FILL IN THE FORM…
  2. OR MAKE THEM CALL YOUR NUMBER…

So yes, you can bail out when all the hard work has all been done, and you can:

  1. Stiff me on the 4th (final) payment – despite the FACT that the site’s average keyword position is now back to where it was in December 2022 as a result of MY hard work…  
  2. And you can stiff me and pay nothing for the 20+ hour rebuild on the site that’s just solved the last major problem created by the dimwit who built the design theme and website in Elementor Pro…
  3. And then you pay someone else to do what’s already been done to solve whatever it is you think could possibly be wrong with the website.
  4. While you continue to ignore the FACT that breaching Google’s Terms of Service has a very serious consequences. It is definitely NOT a game!

BUT: whatever that person does – you will still have to WAIT for Google to fully deactivate the algorithmic penalties!

Thats the reality check…


Clients Response: 0

On Sunday 27th August I ran a SERPs report and was horrified to see that the keyword visibility had plummeted 5% in the couple of weeks since my services were terminated. Not sure what George or the new guy did…

Image 8

I send George an urgent message. No response….

I’m a patient man… I’m old and wise. I am dedicated and conscientious and I always go the extra mile for every client. So I am deeply offended by all of this.

Apparently George thinks it is perfectly fine for ME to pay the penalty for the incompetence of his previous contractors… After I’ve moved heaven and earth to get his website back on track – and demonstrably, I have it back to where it was before the December penalty…In 3 months!

In 29 years of self employment, I’ve only ever had one other man attempt to screw me over like this. It is unacceptable…

George made a very childish effort to protect himself from my irritation…

  • He changed the passwords on the hosting account cPanel
  • He changed the passwords on the WordPress administrator accounts

George should have read my bio details before opting to rob me: https://www.theseoguy.co.nz/about-us/

I know a thing or two about stuff…

Consultants Rule #1: “If its not written down, it never happened

I insist on email communications because it creates an audit trail. In the event of a dispute, I have full documentation on every request and every statement.

“That’s what I do.
I drink, and I know things”

― Tyrion Lannister

That’s why I created and paid for the hosting account in the first instance…

However, George apparently didn’t recall that part of the process.

  • So George no longer has access to the hosting account cPanel and WordPress admin area.
  • He cannot remove the “busted” notice from the Home page, which shows a “Apologies – temporarily Closed due to a finincial dispute between the Site Owner & The SEO Guy” and a countdown timer to when the site is shut down completely…

However, I will cheerfully “remove and restore” on receipt of the outstanding payment.

Update: 3 September

The site owner was so alarmed by the temporary closure banner that he made arrangements to pay in full as soon as he saw it.

However, the Average Position and Impressions in Google Search Console are still doing down!

Closing comments to the site owner:

3

Ben Kemp

The SEO Guy