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Auxmoney.com: Affiliate Links and Paid Links Penalized

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This case study was created using an LRT Superhero account.

Some of the use cases explained in this case study are not available in lower plans.

The LRT Superhero Plan (and higher) includes all our 25 link data sources and allows you to perform link risk management, competitive research, professional SEO and backlink analysis for your own or your competitor's sites. You get to see your website's full backlink profile picture and this can make all the difference for your SEO success.

Penalized German Startup (1 of 5)- Auxmoney.comAuxmoney.com Makes a Poor SEO Investment...and Loses It

Auxmoney made a bad SEO investment, and it hurt them. In late March, their search visibility plummeted. Keywords that were ranking on page 1 dropped to page 7. The sad irony is that their toxic links weren't even built for SEO purposes. What were their toxic links and how can they recover?

This is the first case study in the “5 German startups hit hard by Google” series by Guntram to achieve Certified LRT Xpert status.

We look forward to your feedback and always appreciate you sharing the work of our Certified LRT Professionals.

- Enjoy & Learn!

Christoph C. Cemper

cemper power trust is lrt power trustCEMPER Power*Trust is now LRT PowerTrust

You may still see CEMPER Power*Trust™, CEMPER Power™ and CEMPER Trust™ on some screenshots in this case study.

In 2015, we renamed these metrics to LRT Power*Trust, LRT Power and LRT Trust to reflect the shortname of LinkResearchTools - which is LRT.

Search Visibility lost in late March 2014

With a significant loss in visibility, we see that auxmoney.com was massively hit by Google in late march 2014. The search traffic was dropped steeply. But why and what happened? To clarify this question, we need to understand some the details about the Auxmoney business model.

What exactly is Auxmoney?

Auxmoney.com started to operate in March 2007 and is currently the largest online marketplace for peer-to-peer loans in Germany. Their name is a combination of the Latin word "auxiliaries" (means “help”) and the English word "money." Auxmoney can be translated as "money helps." They built their company on the successful concept of having private investors interact directly with private borrowers. By removing the banks as the middleman, both borrowers and investors benefit. Investors get a better return on their investment and are also legally secured. And borrowers benefit from the ability to replace their loans at any time.

How the process works

Consumers can request 1,000-25,000 Euros in a credit project. Investors then choose the projects they want to support and participate by investing amounts at a minimum of 50 Euros. Or they can automate their investments with the "Portfolio Builder“ to create a diversified set of loans. Once there are enough investors for a project, the loan gets disbursed.

What happened in April 2014

When we look at the Sistrix Visibility Chart, we see a nosedive from 5.407 to 3.793 SI Index.

The whole domain lost significant visibility within a very short time span of about a week.

Sistrix Auxmoney

Significant changes are recently visible, especially on Page 1. Several keywords were pushed from Page 1 (red) to Page 3 (green).

Sistrix Auxmoney Sistrix Graph

Mission critical keywords lost

Keywords that were ranking for positions on page 2 and 3 lost significant visibility. Top converting keywords like “geldhilfe” (EN: money help) or “wertpapier kauf” (EN: securities purchase) dropped from Page 1 to Page 7.

Sistrix Auxmoney Sistrix KWs

Link Audit Basic Definition

Top 10 Keywords

To begin the analysis, I defined 10 relevant keywords. These keywords are typically strongly related to the core business model, and are often featured on the homepage in some way. Using the LRT tools like the Competitive Landscape Analyzer (CLA), I easily pulled common keywords for their niche.

  1. kredit von privat
  2. p2p kredit
  3. kredit von privat zu privat
  4. Reisekredit
  5. Kredit für Selbstständige
  6. Umschuldung
  7. Geld leihen
  8. Onlinekredit
  9. Barkredit
  10. Sofortkredit

Top Competitors
Taking these top keywords, and some manual analysis, I identified representative players for their niche. I based the selection on current search engine ranking and business model similarity.

  1. auxmoney.com
  2. smava.de
  3. lendico.de
  4. fidor.de
  5. p2p-kredite.com
  6. kreditvonprivat24.org

Was Anchor Text Overdone?

We use the BLP report for this, and we’ve checked the backlink count.

Yes, 42% of their anchor texts are Money keywords.

Auxmoney has 5,394 links that uses only 358 different anchor texts originating from 3,631 domains. Besides an image with no alt-text, the top 3 anchor texts are strong money keywords. More than 42.9% of all links contain the Money keyword phrase “kredit von privat zu privat.”

These links are coming from an Affiliate Program that is hosted on the domain of Auxmoney.com, and they all have the same anchor text in the link. This is unnatural; people would not link like that if they would not earn money from it.

Auxmoney LRT Keyword Cloud
By using CLA and grouping by “keyword,” then classifying by Brand, Compound, Money and other keywords, we clearly see that Money keywords are significant when analyzing the auxmoney.com link graph.

What were typical classifications for this report?

 

Keyword Type Examples
Brand Keywords fidor bank agfidorpay.deauxmoneysmava
Compound Keywords die aktuellen statistiken von smava.dedie kunden mit hohen zinsen für ihre tagesgeldkontengelockt direkt zur kostenlosen anfrage von auxmone
Money Keywords auxmoney.com – kredit von privat an privatauxmoney.com – kredite von privat an privatauxmoney – kredite von privat an privat
Other Keywords AnmeldenAuf dieser websitehier informiert

Auxmoney LRT CLA Comparison

Did the Websites Have More Power Than Trust?

Yes, the site auxmoney.com has a LRT Power of 4 and LRT Trust of 3. This is often a sign of over-optimization as we found out in our Google Penguin Update research summary.

The total POWER*TRUST is 12.

Looking at the #1 competitor, Smava.de, the balance is flipped. The site has LRT Power of 4 and LRT Trust of 5, totaling a P*T of 20.

Generally, the lower Trust, higher Power ratio appears to be common in this niche.

Looking at the Quick Domain Compare (QDC) Report for Auxmoney, another important metric stands out: Auxmoney has many backlinks to the domain - a strange signal we want to keep in mind.

Auxmoney LRT QDC Comparison

Did They Have Too Many Sitewide Links?

Yes, 10x more than their competitor, Smava.

We use the Backlink Profiler report to identify the sitewide links ratio. From the Quick Domain Compare report, we have already seen that Auxmoney has 10x more links than their #1 competitor, Smava.

The other domains in that segment also have sitewide links, but Auxmoney has the most sitewide links of all.

Auxmoney Sidewide Link Ratio

This footer link is sending thousands of keyword rich backlinks to auxmoney.com. It’s an absolute red flag for organic SEO. To be more precise, do you know a webmaster that would build such a link at the end of every page for usability?

Screenshot Footer Links

http://www.hartz-4-empfaenger.de/

Auxmoney LRT Anchor overview

Did They Have Paid Links?

Yes, we could easily identify the paid links by using the Quick Backlinks report. It clearly shows that thousands of links have exactly the same Money keyword-rich anchor text. That does not look too natural.

In order to filter this and figure out if there are paid links involved, we grouped the table by Money keyword phrases. The result was stunning.

Auxmoney LRT Anchor kredit von privat

These links are affiliate links. This means that the webmaster is paid once a user is clicking and converting on the shop.

Auxmoney Screenshot Privatkrankenkasse-com

http://www.privatkrankenkasse.com/

Auxmoney Screenshot TopWebList Webkatalog Kostenlose Kostenpflichtige Eintraege

http://www.etahits.de/

Auxmoney Screenshot Nostalgie und Puppenstube

http://www.nostalgie-und-puppenstube.de/Puppentante-s342h62-Baby-Mein-ca-37cm.html

Was the Link’s Power*Trust Distribution Unnatural?

Comparing Auxmoney with the market, two things are quickly obvious.

  1. The amount of organic, typically weak links is more than 10% too low.
  2. The amount of strong P*T 5-7 and 8-12 is more than 10% higher than average.

Auxmoney LRT Cemper Power Trust Comparison

Looking at LRT Power, this trend becomes clearer. Compared with other competitors, the LRT Power of Auxmoney.com reveals that weak links are missing and too many powerful links were built using online marketing.

Auxmoney LRT Cemper Power Analysis

Are Sneaky Redirects Involved?

Yes, several dozen redirects of subdomains, domains and affiliate pages are visible on Auxmoney.com.

I’m not quite sure what “fotoblendenberlin.de,” “mein-geburtstagspruch.de” or “ecd-tradition” and likewise has to do with lending money online.

Auxmoney LRT Redirects

 

Was Unnatural Link Growth Involved?

Yes, there was a significant change in link velocity. With about +10% in link building, this is above industry standards. Only fidor.de did more link building with +75% LVT.

We see this in the Juice Report. To dig deeper here, we also created a Competitive Link Velocity report.

Auxmoney LRT Linkgrowth

Looking at the Competitive Link Velocity, we see that Auxmoney, Rocket-Internet’s Lendico and Fidor.de are building links. Each of them recently added thousands of links within a couple of months.

Auxmoney Competitive Link Velocity

Looking at the amount of links built, we see that fidor.de and auxmoney.com are picking up the most links of all compared domains. This high growth stands out above the organic industry standard.

Auxmoney Competitive Link Velocity Rel yourdomain

Are Link Networks Involved?

Looking at the number of Class-C networks involved, we see two strange things.

A low amount of total Class-C networks are linking. There’s a high likelihood that many links are from the same Class-C net and therefore connected in some way.

They could be in-house or hosted blog networks that are maintained by some marketing agency.

Auxmoney Metric Number Class C

When looking closer, the story is different: There are no visible networks involved; instead, there are several affiliates that run cheap sites on shared hosts – specifically strato.de, all-inkl.com and comgate.de. They could also include link networks, but there was no clear sign that anyone created a link network in this case.

Bad Quality Links

There were several obvious examples of paid links and shady affiliate link integrations. The suspicious sites often lacked a real theme or had an inconsistent theme. The notorious “about us page” that only has one big image with the address of the owner does not necessarily generate a lot of trust.

Auxmoney Screenshot Beepworld

http://sierrie1.beepworld.de/

Auxmoney Screenshot Kreditanbieter online-sofortkredit-eu

http://www.online-sofortkredit.eu/

Auxmoney Screenshot Autofinanzierung ohne Schufa-Auskunft

http://www.kfz.net/ratgeber/kfz-finanzierung/schufa/

Auxmoney Screenshot Deine-Startseite-Frau

http://frau.deinstart.de/

Did Any Unnatural Country Ratios Occur?

No, a German-based business should have links from Germany. Auxmoney has 97.1% links from Germany. That’s exactly how a page that is focused on Germany, and hosted and located in Germany, should look like.

Auxmoney Country Ratio

Is There an Unnatural Deep Link Ratio?

Yes, absolutely. Seeing so many affiliate links makes the situation clear: 97.8% of all links are going to a subpage and not to the start page.

Auxmoney Deep Link Ratio

Did the Websites Have an Unnatural Link Status Ratio?

Yes, many links (up to 350) were recently removed, some even removed from personal profiles of SEOs in social media sites.

Auxmoney Linkstatus Ratio

Auxmoney Link Not Found

Did the Websites Have A High Link Detox Risk?

The site had a moderate Link Detox risk of 475, with 86% of all links listed as suspicious and 7.3% listed as toxic.

Auxmoney Dtox Status

Auxmoney Dtox Overview

Some High to Moderate Risk at Auxmoney

Auxmoney Dtox Overview Risk Ratio

DTOX Rule Breakdown

 

Rule Links Percentage
SUSP31 2,233 17.6%
Anchor text placement looks suspicious. Read more
SUSP23 1,737 13.7%
Domain has the same website footprints as other linking domains – possible link network. Read more
SUSP9 1,225 9.7%
Domain has the same DNS as other linking domains – possible link network. Read more
SUSP8 1,209 9.6%
Domain has the same Class-C as other linking domains – possible link network. Read more
SUSP1 1,053 8.3%
Page has no LRT Power*Trust™ and LRT Power*Trust™ Domain < 5 – a page without external links on a weak domain. Read more
SUSP24 838 6.6%
Domain has the same website footprints as other linking domains - possible link network. Read more
SUSP7 790 6.2%
Domain has the same IP as other linking domains - possible link network. Read more
SUSP14 556 4.4%
Page has no PageRank™ but at least some weak links. Read more
SUSP2 515 4.1%
Domain has no LRT Power*Trust™ - probably a new or very weak domain, or a penalty. Read more
SUSP4 494 3.9%
Domain's homepage has TitleRank™ 30+, LRT Power*Trust™ Domain < 5 and LRT Power*Trust™ < 5. Read more
SUSP22 459 3.6%
Domain has the same website footprints as other linking domains - possible link network. Read more
SUSP19 419 3.3%
Old domain with no homepage PageRank™ Read more
SUSP20 278 2.2%
High risk score associated with URL. Read more
SUSP3 226 1.8%
Page has more than 10 backlinks from 1 Class-C, LRT Power*Trust™ Domain < 5 and LRT Power*Trust™ < 5 - possible link network. Read more
SUSP10 165 1.3%
Domain has Link Velocity Trend < -70% – probably part of an expired domain link network or a domain that the public has lost interest in. Read more
TOX1 161 1.3%
Domain is not indexed in Google. Usually a sign for a penalty. Read more
TOX3 120 0.9%
The Link Detox Genesis™ algorithm classified this link as highly unnatural. We recommend removal or disavow. Read more
SUSP12 65 0.5%
Domain has the same Google Analytics code as other linking domains - possible link network. Read more

The First 25 of the 289 Toxic Links

Auxmoney Dtox Toxic Links

Competitive DTOX Analysis

Looking at the Competitive Dtox, we see that other players have been doing worse SEO Work.

The total Competitive Dtox Risk is low for Auxmoney, unlike other Projects such as P2P-Kredite and Kreditvonprivat24.org.

Auxmoney CDTOX Status

Auxmoney CDTOX Keyword Auxmoney CDTOX Comparison by Dtox

Auxmoney CDTOX Comparison by Dtox Anchors

Results Analysis

 

ID Task Result
1. Anchor Text Analysis Yes, Overdone
2. Power & Trust Balance Analysis More Power, but Okay
3. Sitewide Links Analysis Yes, Overdone
4. Paid Links Analysis Yes, Paid links
5. Power*Trust Ratio Analysis More Powerlinks
6. Redirect Analysis Yes, Some Rdrs
7. Link Growth Analysis Yes, visible growth
8. Link Network Analysis No, there was no network
9. Country Ratio Analysis No, all German
10. Deep Link Ratio Analysis Yes, everything is a deep link
11. Link Status Ratio Analysis Yes, 400 Links gone
12. Link Detox Risk Analysis Medium Risk
13. Competitive Link Detox Risk Analysis against competition Low CDtox

 

Conclusion

The biggest red flag is the Auxmoney Affiliate System. More than 42% of all links has only 3 different anchor texts. The fact that most of these links are "follow" links does not contribute to the trustworthiness. We saw Tradebit recover from a Google penalty after fixing their affiliate links, among other issues in the past.

Even though these links were not designed to be SEO links, but rather tracking links for affiliates, it does not make a big difference.

The second problem is that the design of these affiliate sites is cheap. Many old and outdated thin-content affiliate sites are floating around auxmoney.com. They are sending cheap karma to Auxmoney, resulting in low trust.

Their paid footer links are another story. That’s just “illegal in Google’s world” – i.e. against their terms and conditions for link schemes as outlined here, https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en.

Having more than 400 links removed recently is another negative signal.

Together, that adds up to a poisonous SEO cocktail for Auxmoney. Getting out of this situation requires serious effort.

This case study was written by Guntram Bechtold of StarsMedia IT Management KG, and proud user of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox.

Certified LRT XpertA word from Christoph C. Cemper

This analysis as part of a series that is yet to be published was conducted and written by our new Certified LRT Xpert, Guntram Bechtold.

Guntram demonstrated his expertise in doing a deep dive on why Auxmoney lost so much search visibility. It’s one of five studies he’s doing for his Xpert certification that we'll share with you very soon.

He did a great job investigating the possible causes and isolating the penalized tactics in his case study. Therefore, I’m very happy to certify Guntram Bechtold as the latest Certified LRT Xpert by approving and publishing his research on our site.

Our goal is to provide our user community and clients with quality service and knowledge. Our Certified LRT Professionals and Xperts are key to achieving this goal.

I look forward to Guntram’s future work, and I personally recommend working with him whenever you get the opportunity.

Certified LRT Expert Guntram Bechtold

 

Guntram Bechtold
Founded StarsMedia.com in 2011, a SAASoftware and Project-Management Company. Being Project Manager for Yumpu.com, i-Magazine’s Selfservice Publishing Platform with readers from 180 Countries world wide, the StarsMedia is specialized on Online Marketing Consulting for established Onlineplayers and Startups. Guntram is certified Scrum Master, LRT Certified Professional and graduated. Industrial Designer, living in Dornbirn, Austria
Guntram Bechtold

7 Comments

  1. @seonational on April 30, 2014 at 11:44 am

    http://t.co/bvq8zLO4Ke: Affiliate Links and Paid Links Penalized – http://t.co/nUVuHRvg5a

  2. @PageRankSEO on April 30, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Auxmoney dot com: Affiliate Links and Paid Links Penalized /by @guntrambechtold via @lnkresearchtool http://t.co/lgbHVgRZLm

  3. @larssondaniel on April 30, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Affiliate Links and Paid Links Penalized http://t.co/Yk4XOSjuK9

  4. @Mark_Garwell on April 30, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    http://t.co/nh2Tj09h6V Makes a Poor SEO Investment…and Loses It http://t.co/YT6FhxNo4c

  5. Colin on May 1, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Hello Guntram,

    Thank you for a full and detailed report. Looking at the visibility graph it seems that they are just back at the level they were a year ago. This isn’t a complete wipe out of a site.
    Do you have any feel for what are the underlying factors behind this level of penalty as opposed to a complete loss of rankings?

    Also it would be good to see how the competitors compare…i suspect most of them have dodgy links but i believe it would be useful to see if others are worse or if not then how close they come to this website.

    Best wishes

    Colin

  6. Guntram Bechtold on May 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Hello Colin,

    The biggest hit Auxmoney suffered was a year ago, when Penguin 2.0 hit. The site was then “freed” again, atleast it appears that way once the filters were altered. With current filter, the Penguin “unofficial” update, there was an other loss visible

    Other sites, specifically the smava.de was hot affected to that magnituted, yet other sites (from other niches) were, as you see in the upcoming casestudies.

    Best regards
    Guntram

  7. Oliver on May 12, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Very interesting article.
    I also think Auxmoneys visibility is now nearly as good as one year ago.
    I am not sure if affiliate links are really a problem, then some similar affiliate programs (bon-kredit.de / creditolo.de) should have similar problems.
    Some things like deep linking ratio and the redirects (maybe affiliates?) look strange indeed…
    Best regards,
    Oliver

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