My Agency

TVC May Core Update Recovery Case Study

Israel Gaudette
June 16, 2020

Okay so here’s my second recovery case study for the May Core update… If you have seen my other case study on BVC project here, you already know that I’m trying to recover BVC project WITHOUT using the disavow tool… many people are reporting that the May Core algorithm update has nothing to do with backlinks but I don’t believe that… Want to know why?

Because the only projects that have been affected by this algo update are my 2 first sites. These sites have a ton of shitty links because when I started as an affiliate marketer, I was an investor… not an SEO guy.. so a lot of people (including many shitty Indian SEO services at 50-100$/month lol) have worked on these sites… and I never cleaned them because until now, I didn’t have any bad impact on my ranking… At least until the May Core update!

If you want to know if the disavow tool can help you to recover from this major core update… Then you should follow the updates of this article!

The Damage!

So like BVC project… This one also dropped a lot in the SERP and the earnings as well. Let me show you the impact that the May core update did on this site:

  • Traffic: 80-85% Traffic Drop (pretty similar to BVC project)
  • Monthly Earnings: Drop of ~4KUSD/month

The traffic drop is almost the same as BVC project, however, the earnings losses are less… but this project was making less initially also!

Initial Plan - 16th June 2020

So as I’m already testing if it’s possible to recover only with new links and onsite changes… For this test, I opted to test a MASSIVE DISAVOW (Almost 50% of my backlinks profile!).

Since I know that this core update is also related a lot with brand authority signal, for this project, I also started a big link-building campaign for the coming months, using mostly branded and naked anchor text.

Here’s the result of my disavow submission:

177 disavowed domains out of a total of 391 reported in Ahrefs. Yeah, it’s a risky move but I’ve chosen the domains to disavow really carefully and I’m really confident that I will have a positive result from this!

I had before the crash;

  • Organic Keywords: 3141
  • Organic Traffic: 7453

Currently, SEMrush is reporting;

  • Organic Keywords: 983
  • Organic Traffic: 1830

Let's see in 3 weeks what SEMrush will report… WIN OR DIE!

Update - 30th June 2020

Two weeks have passed now since I have submitted the disavow file to Google, I’ve seen some minor improvement on some money pages (not overall traffic though, still in decline) but definitely not enough to justify a disavow submission.

Also, the recent ranking improvement seems to be just a small rollback retracement of the May 4th update.

I’ve got a talk with Clint Butler about disavowing toxic backlinks to recover from a penalty or algo update, according to him, the disavow tool work really well BUT you absolutely need to recrawl the disavowed backlinks otherwise, it can take months to have an effect.

So as you know, time is money and I’m not interested to wait months to get the result of this case study!

Okay great.. it looks simple… I just have to export my disavowed backlinks and submit them to an indexer…

However, there a problem! Ahrefs only supports exporting the domains only, not the backlinks! It’s a big problem because it’s important to recrawl the backlinks where the links are, NOT the domains!

Luckily, I have found a method to bypass this in Ahrefs and get the disavowed backlinks. (If the disavow is successful, I will write a post about how doing it don’t worry)

So today, I have exported all my disavowed backlinks and submitted them to an indexer. Now it’s time to wait 1-3 weeks, which should be enough to see the disavow result!

Now, here are the numbers:

I had before the crash:

  • Organic Keywords: 3141
  • Organic Traffic: 7453

16th June 2020:

  • Organic Keywords: 983
  • Organic Traffic: 1830

30th June 2020:

  • Organic Keywords: 904
  • Organic Traffic: 1581

Final Update (3rd March 2021)

Okay, I'm a bit late in this case study update... It's been 9 months already I didn't update this one and I'm sorry about it. When I started this blog, I haven't expected that so many peoples would be interested in my case studies and neglected them.

This year, I've taken the decision to reserve some hours each week to maintain this blog and, my Youtube channel so I promise to not disappoint you :)

However, I'm not sure (for the moment) that I will create new case studies. Managing case studies take a lot of time and unfortunately, I don't have much free time at the moment, across my multiple businesses. I will rather publish guides here and create tutorial videos on my Youtube.

Okay... so what happened after the disavow?

Well, let me explain what happened after the disavow and what I decided to do to save this project.

In July, seeing that the disavow wasn't helpful, I started to think that the problem may be the domain itself... After all, it was an EMD (exact match domain). I did some research and bought a brandable domain (no backlinks history, 19 years old aged) at the price of 4.5K.

Yes, it seems a lot of money for a domain without link juice but the brand is strong and I believe that it could become a big authority site in this niche, that is super competitive!

1st August 2020 - Redirect 301 to the new domain

On the 1st of August 2020, I've moved officially my website to a new domain. The site now ranks internationally (not anymore for just Canada) and runs under a brand new name.

Want to see the progress of the new site? See right here;

The traffic has recovered well after the domain migration, it took around 1 month to double my actual traffic.

The December algorithm update hit the new domain but I have been able to recover by fixing important technical SEO issues.

At the moment of speaking, the site is ranking well in US, Canada, UK and I plan to get it back to 5K/month for this summer.

Bonus (How to recover after an algorithm penalty)

In the past months, I did a lot of analysis across different domains and seen in many cases, that it's highly possible to recover only by changing the domain name.

Fresh and auction domains seem to work.

  1. Fresh: I have spotted an affiliate site that has recovered from 1K to 12K organic traffic in migrating to a fresh domain. (Domain had 13K organic traffic (Ahrefs) and crashed to 1K. He moved to a freshly registered domain and 1 month later, the site was back to 12K traffic).
  2. Auctions: A website selling guest posts has changed 3 times of domain name in the last 2 years. Every time, it was happening after an algorithm penalty. I've looked at the pattern and every time, the precedent domain had tanked, and surprisingly, the traffic was recovering on the new domain.

So I actually believe that Google assigns a "penalty" to a domain, not to its contents. My buddy Jacky Chou from Indexsy also recovered a lot of sites using the same exact strategy :) Proof that it works!

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