Case Study: Results


This is part of a series of case studies featuring Tatiana Chemisov of If you’re just joining us, I recommend you start here.


Hi, Lisa!

When we first talked, My Little Jules boutique was going through some tough times. We were penalized by Google during Penguin update and lost almost all of our organic traffic from new visitors, which used to be just under 50% before the update. We were surviving thanks to our loyal returning customers. However, we were sitting on a lot of inventory and had bills that were piling up. We knew something had to be done, but we were not sure where to start.

I started running Google Ads – something that we had never done before – to keep new visitors coming. I also started researching ways to get Google Penalty lifted. That was around the same time we had our call with Rand Fishkin. After our call with Rand, I prioritized his advice and got to work. Here is what I had on my to-do list:

  1. Get Google penalty removed
  2. Complete competitive SEO research for top 10 competitors
  3. Focus on high quality links
  4. Earn links with high quality content
  5. Only work with bloggers who have high quality websites related to our business

Get Google penalty removed

The first thing on my to-do list was the hardest one to accomplish. It took me a few months and hours of work. I had to go through every single incoming do-follow link to our website to determine whether these links were coming from potentially harmful websites. Once I compiled the list of such links, I contacted website admins asking them to remove the links; some had to be contacted up to 3 times. After the third round of emails to admins, I compiled all the harmful links that were still up on the sites in a text document that was later submitted to Google. To have penalty lifted, I also had to show Google all the work that I have done to remove harmful links. So I carefully documented every step I took, every email I sent. Once I had all my evidence together, I submitted a reconsideration request to Google. Our manual action was removed after the third attempt.

Google does provide instructions on how to have manual action (penalty) removed. One has to have Google webmaster account to start the process. Here is a link to the information page:

Here is the service I used to make my job easier:

Complete competitive SEO research for top 10 competitors

I put together a list of 10 competitors who ranked well for our top 10 keywords and used OpenSiteExplorer ( to find external do-follow links to those website. By doing this important research, I was able to put together a list of directories, blogs and websites that linked back to our competitors. I then used PR (Page Rank) checker and my personal judgement to identify the best, most relevant websites. Once I had a list of those websites, I started submitting our site to directories, contacting bloggers and trying to figure out other ways to have those websites link back to us.

Focus on high quality links

As I have mentioned in the previous section, I now always use Page Rank checker to look for websites with high PR. There are a number of free tools out there, just do a Google search” or “Page Rank checker” and find the one that works best for you. Here is the one I like the most: In addition to Page Rank, I also check out the content of a site and what kind of following it has on social media. I always look for websites, blogs, directories and online communities that are related to our business and have high PR – from weddings sites, to stylish mom forums, to birthday party and photography blogs. By doing this, I am able to find the best places to promote our business and build relationships with influencers in small circles focused around a particular topic (family photography, kids’ parties, kids’ fashion, parenting, wedding planning, etc). How does this all relate to SEO? These relationships result in high-quality incoming links to our website and social media buzz.

Earn links with high quality content

We are very active on social media. From our Facebook page, to Instagram feed, Pinterest boards and Jules’ Got Style blog – I always look for ways to engage customers with great content and beautiful images. Again, all of this translates into high quality incoming links and social media buzz, which are great for SEO. I am always on the lookout for new sites, new blogs and forums. It is a continuous effort.

Only work with bloggers who have high quality websites related to our business

We continue working with bloggers and photographers, but I am now more selective. I look for blogs with high PR, great content and following. We usually send clothing and offer giveaways to readers in exchange for a blog feature and images. This strategy has been an important part of our marketing since day one and has been working very well for us. It provides us with the opportunity to reach new customers, improve our SEO, increase brands recognition and build relationships with social media influencers.

Other steps we took

We also focused on our website to make sure it is well optimized. I used Google Webmaster tool to look for pages that were missing title tags and descriptions. We improved text content and made the site more relevant with better descriptions, improved navigation and high quality images. I also put together a system of monitoring and constantly working on our SEO to make sure our ranking for important keywords does not drop. We are not working on new keywords that will help us tap into new markets and reach new customers.


Here is what we have achieved since our conversation with Rand Fishkin:

  • Before our call with Rand, had an average Google rank of 31.75 for our top 10 keywords
  • One month after Google manual action (penalty) was removed, our average Google rank for top 10 keywords jumped to 16.1
  • Today, our average Google rank for those top 10 keywords is 3.07. But let me give you’re a little bit more information about it.
    • All but one keywords are in top 4
    • For one keyword – which is highly competitive (think Amazon, Zappos, 6pm) we are now in position 9; our original position for this keyword was 40
    • 8 keywords are in top 3
    • 6 keywords are in top 2
  • We are no longer running Google ads, in fact, we do not run any ads; this is against my marketing philosophy and I am so glad we no longer need to do this
  • For the past few months, the number of new visitors to have exceeded the number of returning visitors – thanks to organic search

I am very grateful for this opportunity and want to thank you and Rand Fishkin for guiding My Little Jules through our SEO crisis!