Case Study: Negative SEO Recovery

Result: Full recovery in 3 months

Investment: $11,200

Client: Highly focused firm in tech savvy city in an extremely competitive market.


After years of solid, steady growth, search traffic dropped abruptly by roughly 70%. Assuming this was due to a technical issue, we performed a variety of diagnostics to no avail – it wasn’t until we checked the site’s backlink profile on Majestic that we identified a large influx of links from irrelevant, low quality sites – predominately in China and Russia. According to Majestic, the links started appearing roughly 6 weeks prior to the drop in traffic. This pattern is the hallmark of a negative SEO attack – when a nefarious competitor deliberately directs a large volume of extremely low quality links at a website for the sole purpose of invoking a Google penalty. In the graphic below, note the boost in traffic prior to the plunge – presumably the short term benefit of the toxic links prior to tripping the penalty.

Negative SEO

To address the issue we went through Google’s link disavowal process – to identify and reduce the damage caused by the toxic links. Done correctly, this is much more than just submitting a list through Google Search Console, but includes the documentation of proactive attempts to contact individual sites to have the links removed. The entire process included multiple rounds of revisions with Google. This also required ongoing monitoring of the site’s backlink profile and therefore ongoing disavowal of new toxic links as they appeared. In parallel, we published highly interesting, unique content designed to drive genuinely earned, high quality links to further strengthen the site’s link profile.

Over a three month period, the site’s organic traffic slowly returned. Mockingbird continued the content driven linkbuilding campaign and year-over-year organic traffic grew from less than 200 weekly sessions, to over 500.