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Auxmoney.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.
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- Enjoy & Learn!
Christoph C. Cemper
Table of contents
- Search Visibility lost in late March 2014
- Link Audit Basic Definition
- Was Anchor Text Overdone?
- Did the Websites Have More Power Than Trust?
- Did They Have Too Many Sitewide Links?
- Did They Have Paid Links?
- Was the Link’s Power*Trust Distribution Unnatural?
- Are Sneaky Redirects Involved?
- Was Unnatural Link Growth Involved?
- Are Link Networks Involved?
- Bad Quality Links
- Did Any Unnatural Country Ratios Occur?
- Is There an Unnatural Deep Link Ratio?
- Did the Websites Have an Unnatural Link Status Ratio?
- Did the Websites Have A High Link Detox Risk?
- Some High to Moderate Risk at Auxmoney
- DTOX Rule Breakdown
- Competitive DTOX Analysis
- Results Analysis
CEMPER 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.
Significant changes are recently visible, especially on Page 1. Several keywords were pushed from Page 1 (red) to Page 3 (green).
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.
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.
- kredit von privat
- p2p kredit
- kredit von privat zu privat
- Kredit für Selbstständige
- Geld leihen
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.
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.
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?
|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|
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.
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.
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?
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.
These links are affiliate links. This means that the webmaster is paid once a user is clicking and converting on the shop.
Was the Link’s Power*Trust Distribution Unnatural?
Comparing Auxmoney with the market, two things are quickly obvious.
- The amount of organic, typically weak links is more than 10% too low.
- The amount of strong P*T 5-7 and 8-12 is more than 10% higher than average.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some High to Moderate Risk at Auxmoney
DTOX Rule Breakdown
|Anchor text placement looks suspicious. Read more|
|Domain has the same website footprints as other linking domains – possible link network. Read more|
|Domain has the same DNS as other linking domains – possible link network. Read more|
|Domain has the same Class-C as other linking domains – possible link network. Read more|
|Page has no LRT Power*Trust™ and LRT Power*Trust™ Domain < 5 – a page without external links on a weak domain. Read more|
|Domain has the same website footprints as other linking domains - possible link network. Read more|
|Domain has the same IP as other linking domains - possible link network. Read more|
|Page has no PageRank™ but at least some weak links. Read more|
|Domain has no LRT Power*Trust™ - probably a new or very weak domain, or a penalty. Read more|
|Domain's homepage has TitleRank™ 30+, LRT Power*Trust™ Domain < 5 and LRT Power*Trust™ < 5. Read more|
|Domain has the same website footprints as other linking domains - possible link network. Read more|
|Old domain with no homepage PageRank™ Read more|
|High risk score associated with URL. Read more|
|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|
|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|
|Domain is not indexed in Google. Usually a sign for a penalty. Read more|
|The Link Detox Genesis™ algorithm classified this link as highly unnatural. We recommend removal or disavow. Read more|
|Domain has the same Google Analytics code as other linking domains - possible link network. Read more|
The First 25 of the 289 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.
|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|
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.
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.