Well it happens, many times we get calls from potential clients saying that their former SEO company destroyed their website.
This is a quick checklist in order to take control of the situation.
1 – first thing is first, make sure that your client fully understands the situation they are in. That you will try your best to fix the problem but at first sign up you are not 100% sure what type of damage they did. Make sure expectations are reasonable to both parties. Make sure you give yourself a timeframe measured in months. If your client thinks you’ll fix the problem in a week they will be highly upset. Many times if the problem was a manual action, Google won’t even reply to the re-include request in a week. Much less give you time to fix the problem to even be reconsidered to be back in the index.
2 – get admin access to a verified webmaster tools account in Google. Typically there are messages and reports there that help you figure out exactly what happened. It’s better than hearsay because you are getting these reports directly from Google. Check to see if the site was penalized, see if there were any manual actions, check to see if they pointed a billion garbage links to your client. Read though the reports and see if it was something more understandable, like a slowdown of the sites response time. You have to fully read and comprehend all parts of webmaster tools. I cannot stress this enough. Don’t bother going to step 3 until you completed step 2.
3 – Now that you completed step two, take a look at the backlink profile, the content of the site, if it’s mobile friendly or not, and all the normal suspects. Use the disavow tool if needed, make the site responsive if needed. Do whatever you feel is necessary to complete the task. Make sure the sitemaps are up to par. Submit an RSS feed as a sitemap as well. Typically this works wonders for content heavy sites.
4 – Put in a re-include request via webmaster tools if a manual action was taken.
5 – Continue to clean up the site, keep an eye on webmaster tools over the next few weeks.
6 – Keep in contact with your client, don’t let them believe your doing nothing, but in reality you might be waiting for Google. This can take time.
7 – enjoy the fruits of your labor when the client site starts to rank again or at least start showing up in the search engine for some terms. Remember when coming back from a penalty it takes time. You just don’t rank automatically for every term you did prior to the ban. You are out of jail, but you lost your job. It takes time to re-establish your clients site.