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Penguin 2.1 Evicts New York Real Estate Company from SERPs

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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.

Elikarealestate.com Google Penguin 2.1 Penalty

Site Damaged by 301 Redirects from Penalized Domains

No one escapes the Penguin. Elika Real Estate tried to run from their Penguin penalty, but it followed them. It penalized every domain they created, leaving them nearly invisible in SERPs. That's what happens when you redirect penalized domains to a new domain instead of cleaning up the mess.

In this excellent and hair-pulling case study of elikarealestate.com, Andrew Edwards investigates why this luxury New York real estate company suddenly dropped from SERPs and how they can once again compete in their tough market.

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.

1.  Introduction

Gea Elika has built up a reputation as one of New York’s leading real estate agents with his company elikarealestate.com. Elika Real Estate is a small brokerage firm dedicated exclusively to providing expert brokerage to clients interested in buying or renting luxury New York City real estate.

Despite Elika’s reputation and hard working staff, elikarealestate.com was unable to escape the dreaded Google algorithm known as Penguin. Like thousands of other legitimate small businesses, their website lost nearly all their organic Google traffic following the first Penguin update. They regained some of their ranking post Penguin 2.0 (May 22 2013) only to have it taken away from them by the Penguin 2.1 (October 4th 2013) update.

With small companies like Elika’s having to rely on leads coming from Google SERPs, this kind of hit can have devastating results. It was crucial that they try to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Elika’s staff, and the SEO company they were working with at the time, acted swiftly in removing bad backlinks and submitting a disavow file to Google. However, after three months the site’s organic traffic has not improved and visits from Google are nearly non-existent.

They then reached out to Christoph C. Cemper for help with a site audit.

The main objectives of this case study are to:

  • Study the impact Penguin had on the site
  • Assess all links pointing to the website
  • Identify why the site has been hit
  • See what work was done to aid a partial recovery
  • Devise a recovery plan to regain ranking and Google’s trust

Key questions at this point are:

Did elikarealestate.com remove enough of its bad backlinks via manual removal and disavowing?

What caused the initial drop, and how did the website’s rankings partial recover?

What caused the drop post Penguin 2.1?

In October last year, LRT published a summary of the factors that matter for getting a Penguin 2.0 penalty created by two LRT professionals: Geraldine Edel and Guntram Bechtold. These 12 factors still apply to Penguin 2.1, so it’s worth checking them to confirm our deep dive.

The 12 factors, which we will cover within the deep dive below, are:

  1. Overdone Anchor Text
  2. More LRT Power than LRT Trust?
  3. Too Many Sitewide Links
  4. Paid Links
  5. Unnatural Link’s Power*Trust Distribution
  6. Sneaky Redirects
  7. Unnatural Link Growth
  8. Link Networks
  9. Unnatural Country Ratio
  10. Unnatural Deep Link Ratio?
  11. Unnatural Link Status Ratio
  12. High Link Detox Risk

In this case study I will present a detailed summary of my findings from the offsite audit that will cover the factors mentioned above.

Visibility and Observations

After conducting an analysis of elikarealestate’s organic visibility using Searchmetrics SEO visibility index, we can clearly see their organic search visibility has had a lot of ups and downs.

Search Metrics Results

Before March 2013, we can see that visibility was non-existent. This issue needs to be investigated further in our study. We know that Penguin 2.0 rolled out on May 22nd 2013 (point A), however visibility didn’t partially recover till the middle of July?

We can see they had success post Penguin 2.0, only to be hit by the Penguin 2.1 update at the beginning of October 2013 (Point B), and search visibility has continued to suffer since.

From the image below we can see that elikarealestate.com hasn’t been de-indexed: 42,900 pages are still in the Google index.

Google Indexed Pages

Logging into elikarealestate.com’s Google Webmaster Tools account, we can see that the issues relating to their drop were purely algorithmic because elikarealestate.com had no manual actions.

GWT No Manual Actions

Considering that their drop in organic search coincides with the release date of Penguin 2.1, it’s pretty clear that the site was a victim of this update. With no official manual penalty given by Google, it’s safe to say this site is suffering from an algorithmic penalty.

As we know, Google designed the Penguin algorithm to penalize sites that breached their quality guidelines on unnatural link practices. Penguin looks for commonly used spammy link building techniques, particularly in the way that one site links to another. We can therefore speculate that elikarealestate.com was somehow guilty of spammy or manipulative techniques to try and gain an edge in the rankings.

This explains the loss in visibility coinciding with the update and why the site (or sections of the site) has been hit.

With continued cleanup work done by both elikarealestate.com and the SEO company they hired, this should have been enough to keep their ranking or increase their visibility to pre-Penguin/Panda penalty levels.

2.  Searching for Reasons for the Penalty

In our search for possible reasons for the penalty, we first start with a quick analysis of elikarealestate.com’s backlink profile. For this task, we used the QBL (Quick Backlinks) Tool.

2.1  QBL Report for Elikarealestate.com

This report gives us a nice quick overview, along with the first signs for the drop in search engine rankings. To get the best available report, we use the sitewide filter (it skips sitewide links after the first 5 links found) and double check that the “Remove Dropped Links” box is selected.

QBL Elika Real Estate 1

From looking at the report, a few things jump out at me.

QBL Elika Real Estate 2

We can see in the anchor text section that “n/a” has more Power*Trust and links than the site’s brand anchors.

Looking at the anchor text diversity by count, we can see a couple of Money keywords. But what’s this? 360 (that’s 52.2%) of elikarealestate.com’s links have “n/a” pointing to their site. Whenever you see “n/a” in the anchor text section, this means that the anchor text of these links couldn’t be found.

QBL Elika Real Estate 3

Whenever I see a site with a huge percentage of “n/a” links, this is usually a very strong sign of redirected links. Let’s see if I’m right!

To find out, we select the “Link Type” tab:

QBL Elika Real Estate 4

Just as I thought: More than half of all backlinks (52%) are from redirects.

By going back to our anchor text tab and selecting “by count,” we can then click on “n/a” so that we can see a list of all the links redirected to elikarealestate.com.

QBL Elika Real Estate 5

You can see there are many of low quality directory links pointing to the site with no value to their profile. By typing “directory” into the “From URL” search box we can see 1 of 334 URLs. Furthermore, this has been filtered from a total of 690 thanks to our sitewide filter added at the beginning of the report.

QBL Elika Real Estate 6

These links are typical Penguin food and should be removed or disavowed ASAP if they ever want to recover in SERPs.

Reset the filter and then scroll to the right and select the links by Power*Trust.

QBL Elika Real Estate 8

We can also see 3 sites potentially passing Power and Trust to elikarealestate.com via a redirect. We can double check this in a moment by running a BLP report on the domain and looking at the “Redir Juice” section. To double check there aren’t any other sites apart from these 3 and the directories, we can simply click through each page by using the “next” button in the bottom right corner.

QBL Elika Real Estate 7

Once we are back to the first page, we can see that one of them is called elikaassoiates.com. Could this website be owned by the same company? A quick email sent to the owner soon confirms that they are indeed the owners of all 3 redirected domains.

Could these 3 sites be passing even more unnatural low quality links to elikarealestate.com? Looking at the number of backlinks to the domain (BLDOM), we see the following:

  • http://www.citycrybs.com/ has a BLDOM of 3,795
  • http://www.elikaassociates.com/ has a BLDOM of 12,405
  • http://www.citycrybs.com/ has a BLDOM of 6,697

That’s potentially a total of another 22,897 low quality links pointing to their site. ☹

2.2  BLP Report for Elikarealestate.com

We have determined a lot in our QBL report above. However, QBL only uses 1 link source out of the available sources used for a BLP. Seeing as elikarealestate.com has given us restricted access to their GWT account, we can also download their latest links and sample link lists and add them to our report for a more in-depth analysis. ☺

Elika Real Estate BLP

In order to get the best out of the BLP report, we need to follow these easy steps:

  1. Enter the domain into the URL box.
  2. Upload a list of the site’s backlinks taken from as many different channels as you can (e.g. Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, hrefs, Moz and Majestic SEO).
  3. Make sure you select x5 in the Link Boost section to add the maximum amount of links to your report.
  4. Select the appropriate metrics setting for the report, we are running the BLP to reconfirm our finding in our QBL report so I only select the first 3 metrics.
  5. Make sure you select “Skip sitewide links after 5 links are found per domain”.
  6. Make sure you select “Remove Dropped Links”.

Elika RealEstate BLP 4

The first thing we need to do is correctly classify the keywords as either Brand, Compound, Money or Other.

Elika RealEstate BLP 1

Once this has been done, we return to the reports page to get a better picture of elikarealestate.com’s link profile.

Elika RealEstate BLP 2

One of the first problems I notice is the amount of sitewide links which LRT has had to remove: 21,636. We can see that the report found a total of 26,915 links. For those of you who don’t know what a sitewide link is, it is a backlink that is on every single page of a website linking back to you (hence the name “sitewide link”).

The second problem I see is the website’s LRT Power to LRT Trust ratio: 5 to 2! This is extremely unnatural and, in my experience, is always an obvious sign of link buying for PR and link juice.

Further, 94% (1,083) of their links are from sites with 0 Power*Trust. This could have affected their ranking.

If we sort the anchor text by count, we can see – just like the QBL report – that the majority of their links are coming from n/a. We now know that this type of anchor text comes from redirects.

Elika RealEstate BLP 5

Just like we did in the QBL report, we select the link with n/a as the anchor text. We already know from running the QBL that there are at least 3 websites owned by elikarealestate that are being redirected to their site. Looking at the BLP report, we can see they are indeed redirecting properly to elikarealsestate.com by clicking on the + button and viewing the redirect –trace.

For those of you who don’t know what a 301 redirect is, it is a permanent redirect from one URL to the other.

We can also see from the “Redir Juice” section that the PR and link juice from these domains are indeed passing juice, good and bad, to elikarealestate.

Elika RealEstate BLP 3

We now know that 3 websites passing link juice are being redirected to elikarealestate.com

This is something we will look into further in the study.

2.3  DTOX Report for Elikarealestate.com

Let’s run a DTOX then for elikarealestate.com to see what risk level their profile is given.

Elika Real Estate DTOX 1

In order to get the best out of the DTOX report, we need to follow these easy steps:

  1. Enter the domain into the URL box.
  2. For a more detailed report, make sure “Detox both” is selected so that the report checks links for the top domain and the www subdomain.
  3. Select the correct theme for the site from the “Theme of Domain” dropdown box.
  4. We know from speaking to the owner that they didn’t receive a manual penalty so we select “No” when asked that question.
  5. By default, the DTOX report will be set to “classic mode,” which is what we need for this report, as we want to check the current links affecting the site.

Elika Real Estate DTOX

  • Upload a list of the site’s backlinks taken from as many different channels as you can (e.g. Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, hrefs, Moz and Majestic SEO).
  • Make sure you select the “Dropped Links Handling” box.
  • Then click “Detox my site.”

Elika Real Estate DTOX 9

In order to get the most accuracy, we need to classify at least 90% of the keywords.

Elika Real Estate DTOX 2

After classifying at least 80% of all keywords, we now need to reprocess the report to obtain our Average Link Detox Risk. We do this by clicking on the “<< Back to Reports Page” link and then clicking the “click here” link.

Elika Real Estate DTOX 8

Elika Real Estate DTOX 3

The report returns a deadly overall risk score for elikarealestate.com. We know from previous Penguin studies that websites with a link risk over 1000 could be classified as a potential Penguin victim, but this score is nearly double that! These spammy links are the reason why Penguin hit elikarealstate.com.

I want to look closer at all these links.

Elika Real Estate DTOX 4

As we can see above, 37.1% of their links have a High Risk level and above. Even though the links are a fairly even mixture of Brand, Compound, Money and Other, only 4% of their overall links are classed as healthy. ☹

Elika Real Estate DTOX 5

Knowing they have been actively involved in link removal and already submitted a disavow file, I asked the owner if he would send me a copy. Having received the original submitted disavow, I added it to my LRT account by going to “Settings” and then “Upload your Disavow/Ignore file.”

Elika Real Estate Disavow

Now that this file had been uploaded, let’s re-run the Detox report and see if the disavowed links could reduce the website’s link risk.

Elika Real Estate DTOX 6

Just as I thought, not enough cleanup work has been done. The website still has a deadly link risk.

Elika Real Estate DTOX 7

Even with 49% of the links disavowed, a lot more work is needed to remove the low quality links from pointing to the site. Then they have to build healthy, trusted links back to the site if they are ever going to escape Penguin and compete with their competitors.

3.  Research into Redirected Domains

Remember our 3 redirected sites from early in our case study?

  • http://www.citycrybs.com/
  • http://www.elikaassociates.com/
  • http://www.citycrybs.com/

After consulting again with the owner, he kindly provides me with links to various different Google forums. He also informs me that, not only do they own all 3 of the redirected sites, but the original problem and loss of visibility in SERPs started with another domain: elikaassociates.com!

The owner goes on to tell me that they did some cleanup work and submitted a disavow file to Google for this domain, but they didn’t see the results they expected so they redirected domains to elikarealestate.com. They moved domains in the hope that one day the penalty would be lifted due to their efforts in meeting all guidelines. The URL change was not to try to escape the penalty, but simply to choose a URL that would allow users to better understand their company’s real estate services.

These are the provided links to the Google Forum posts:

https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!searchin/webmasters/elika/webmasters/tp5Tk4S7xdI/fz8YZw8-uVsJ

Elika Google Forum Post

Reading the Google Forum post above, we have just been told that, before the 3 sites were redirected to elikarealestate.com they were redirected via 301 to yet another domain - the EMD (Exact Money Domain): http://www.luxurymanhattanproperty.com/.

My job just got a whole lot easier ☹. Not only do we have the original 3 sites to analyze, but we now also have a mystery 4th Elika company-owned domain.
Man Freaking Out
We now know that this site was initially set up to continue driving leads and traffic for the company whilst they were cleaning up elikaassociates.com.

3.1  Luxurymanhattanproperty.com BLP Report & Analysis

Lets have a quick look at http://www.luxurymanhattanproperty.com/ and run a BLP report to see what its link profile is like.

LMP BLP 1

A quick look at the report reveals the following:

  • Domain has a low Power*Trust score
  • Domain has a low Power score
  • Domain has a low Trust score
  • Domain only has 22 referring root domains
  • 99% of their links have a Power*Trust of 0

Now we are going to look at Luxurymanhattanproperty.com’s keywords:

LMP BLP 2

We can see that one of their main keywords to the site is the Money keyword “luxury manhattan real estate,” and that the others are made-up Brand terms and more “n/a” links. This can be found by looking in the anchor text tag cloud. The bolder and larger the font, the more links the site has for that specific keyword. This is supported by the second anchor text box, along with the number of links for that certain keyword in the “Links” section.

This site could be a prime example of a site penalized by Google’s EMD algorithm. But strangely, the domain can still be found 4th in Google SERPs for the EMD anchor text “luxury manhattan property”.

As I am based in the UK, if I go to google.com it will redirect me to google.co.uk so I’m unable to see SERPs for google.com. I got around this by using a US proxy server (called hidemyass.com) to go to google.com to view the US traffic. This is where I saw the 4th place spot, along with a local listing.

LMP Google Search 1

Another search for its main Money keyword “luxury manhattan real estate” doesn’t return any results in the top 50. It’s a possible sign that the site could have been hit with a penalty for this keyword. With a little cleanup of the site’s link profile and some quality links added, this site would help generate additional leads and revenue whilst they work on the recovery of elikarealestate.com.

We have now established, from the Google forum post, that elikarealestate.com wasn’t their initial domain. Elikaassociates.com was their initial domain. Elikarealestate.com needs a lot more authority backlinks, as well as removing/disavowing the low quality ones ASAP!

Now that we know elikaassoicates.com used to be their main domain, we will leave this for last and quickly analyze the other 2 redirecting sites’ profiles to see if they are passing even more low quality links and contributing to the Penguin penalty against the new domain.

3.2  Citycrybs.com BLP Report & Analysis

If you remember from our initial QBL report, this site is on top of our “n/a” anchor text list and had a total of 3,795 backlinks redirected to elikarealestate.com. Let’s double check if the redirect is still in place.

The first thing we see is that, whilst I’m in the middle of this case study, they moved the 301 of this site from elikarealestate.com to luxurymanhattanproperty.com.

WTF!!! If my job wasn’t already hard enough I now have to double check my reports. ☹
Man pulling his hair out
Going back to my initial QBL dated 2014-01-24, I can clearly see the redirects are in place. At the time of writing that section, the 3 domains mentioned at the beginning were redirected to elikarealestate.com.

City Crybs QBL Check

If we take another look at the BLP I ran on luxurymanhattanproperty.com dated 2014-01-29 and search in the “FROM URL” section for citycrbs.com, we can see that it hasn’t been picked up in the report.

City Crybs BLP Check

I sent another quick email to the owner to make sure he won’t touch anything until I’m done with the case study (and kept my fingers crossed in hopes he wouldn’t).

Note: The above situation is a perfect example of how clients can sometimes act on their own accord without first informing their SEO company of their intentions. In this instance, the client has potentially removed 3,795 bad links pointing to elikarealestate.com. Instead, they directed them to a site which, with a little tender loving care, could be a good source of additional income for them.

I’m still curious to see if citycrybs.com was indeed passing bad backlinks to elikarealestate.com. Let’s do another BLP, along with a detox report and double check.

In the BLP report, we can see straight away that the site has an extremely low Power*Trust score.

City Crybs BLP 1

We can also see that 76% of this site’s links have a Power*Trust of 0.

City Crybs BLP 2

If we look at the anchor text by count, we can see that their top links are made up of mostly Brand and Compound keywords (Compound = brand with money terms).

City Crybs BLP 3

 

3.3  Citycrybs.com DTOX Report & Analysis

Lets run a detox report to see how toxic citycrybs.com’s link profile is.

As we have done previously for our first detox report on elikarealstate.com, we need to classify at least 80% to get accurate data.

Now that we have classified 96% of the keywords, we need to reprocess the report to get our Average Link Detox Risk.

City Crybs Dtox 1

We can see that the overall risk is still very high, and likely triggered a Penguin penalty on this domain as well.

City Crybs Dtox 2

Switching to the Link Detox Risk Breakdown tab, we can see that 41.3% of this site’s total link profile is high risk and above. Looking at the summary below, they only have 4% healthy links.

City Crybs DTox 3

It is safe to assume that the initial redirect of citycrybs.com was also passing low quality links to elikarealestate.com.

3.4  Citycribs.com BLP Report & Analysis

If you remember from our initial QBL report, this site is on our “n/a” anchor text list and had a total of 6,697 backlinks redirected to elikarealestate.com. After what happened with citycribs.com, let’s double check that this redirect is still in place.

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR (proceeds to bang my desk and spill my 10th cup of coffee all over my notes ☹)
Man pulling his hair out again
I think I’ll be bald by the end of this case study!

Just like with the citycrybs.com analysis, I can see on the initial QBL dated 2014-01-24 the redirect from citycribs.com to elikarealestate.com is in place. At the time of writing that section, this site was also redirecting to elikarealestate.com.

City Cribs QBL Check 1

If we take yet another look at the BLP I just ran on luxurymanhattanproperty.com dated 2014-01-14 and do a search in the “FROM URL” section for citycribs.com, we can see that this also hasn’t been picked up in the report.

City Cribs BLP Check

Another quick email to the owner to explain that what they are doing is hampering my investigation returns an email apologizing for jumping the gun. They explained they were doing this to save their site and forgot it would make my job harder.

So much for crossing my fingers ☹.
Man Fingers Crossed
Note: Again, this is another example of how clients can sometimes jump the gun and act on their own accord without first consulting their SEO company. I really do sympathize with them; they are a small business trying to compete with bigger companies in a very competitive marketplace. They had employed countless SEO companies in the past and believed that what they were doing was in their best interests and helping their site. Don’t get me wrong; years ago directories, article submissions, blog commenting and a few bought links would see you ranking for almost anything. But, as we all know, over the last few years Google has gotten wise; the SEO of old has come back to bite thousands of sites in the butt.
Crazy Penguin
Again, the client has potentially removed another 6,697 bad links, which were pointing to elikarealestate.com, and directed them to luxurymanhattanproperty.com – a site that could have been a good source of additional income for them with a little TLC.

I’m still curious to see if citycribs.com was indeed passing bad backlinks to elikarealestate.com, so let’s do another BLP report along with a detox report and double check.

The first thing that catches my attention is the website’s Power*Trust ratio.

City Cribs BLP 1

Normally when we see Power & Trust figures like this, it’s a clear sign that the site has been involved in link buying to boost their ranking. Sites that purchase links just for PR tend to have more Power than Trust, showing that the links might have high PR but are of low quality.

To get a better understanding of citycribs.com’s links, we need to classify the keywords like we have in our previous reports. Once this has been done, we can get a more accurate data of their assumed link buying.

The chart shows us that 90% of the site’s links have a Power*Trust of 0:

City Cribs BLP 2

If we look at the anchor text by count, we can see that their top links are made up of a mixture of Brand, Compound and Money keywords. We can see that the Money keywords have a rather high percentage score.

City Cribs BLP 3

Now let’s look at the anchor text sorted by keyword.

City Cribs BLP 4

This returns an overall score of 28% for Money keywords, but we know that 90% of citycribs.com’s links have 0 Power*Trust and that they have too many links for certain Money keywords. These are all signs of Penguin food again. If this site was still live and not redirected, I am 99% sure that it would have been hit by Penguin.

3.5  Citycribs.com DETOX Report & Analysis

Just to double check, let’s run a detox on citycribs.com to see their overall risk level.

City Cribs DTOX 1

Again a deadly risk score! We can now say for sure that Penguin would have hit this site as well. Just like with citycribs.com, it’s safe to assume that the initial redirect of citycribs.com was also passing low quality links to elikarealestate.com.

3.6  Elikaassociates.com Analysis

Now that we have established that both domains - namely citycrybs.com and citycribs.com - are of high risk and indeed providing no real quality to elikarealestate.com, it’s time to analyze elikaassociates.com to see what caused elikarealestate.com’s initial fall from grace with Penguin and whether or not the redirection to elikarealestate.com is passing even more bad links to it.

3.7  Elikaassociates.com BLP Report

Let’s run a BLP for elikaassociates.com and see what comes up.

Elika Associates BLP 1

Note: As we have done previously for our other reports, we need to classify at least 80% of our keywords to get accurate data.

The first thing that catches my attention is the Power to Trust ratio.

Elika Associates BLP 2

Just like citycrybs.com, we can see the site has more Power than Trust, along with 454 referring root domains. The links pointing to elikarealestate.com have more Power but little Trust, which is usually a sign of bought links from link networks. There is mixed opinion as to whether this is a clear sign of bought links. Bought links usually have Google PR, which translates as LRT Power. However, paid links often have little to no value because they are usually on low quality sites created for the sole purpose of being a link network. There isn’t much trust in that kind of domain.

Looking at the link profile by Power*Trust, we can see that 89% of their links have Power*Trust 0.

Elika Associates BLP 3

If we look at the link profile by keyword, we see the following:

Elika Associates BLP 4

We can clearly see an overuse of Money keyword links (76%).

By switching to the “absolute total,” we can see 785 links for Money-related keywords.

Elika Associates BLP 7

A quick look at the anchor text by Power*Trust shows us that the main keyword used is the Money keyword “manhattan real estate”:

Elika Associates BLP 5

By changing the anchor text sorted by count, we can see their top links are made up of all Money keywords!

Elika Associates BLP 6

Given the amount of Money keyword links (785) pointing to elikaassociates.com, along with the fact that 89% of their links have 0 Power*Trust, it is highly likely that this was the initial reason for elikarealestate.com’s huge drop in traffic and their 1st Penguin penalty.

3.8  Elikaassociates.com DTOX Report

Just to double check, let’s run a detox on elikaassociates.com to see their overall risk level.

Elika Associates DTOX 1

Again, a deadly risk score! We can now see the reason for elikaassociates.com’s Penguin penalty and why this site was unable to regain their ranking.

Looking at the Link Detox summary, we can see that only 1% (46 links) are healthy!

Elika Associates DTOX 2

Over half of this site’s links are toxic (54%). They need to be removed ASAP, along with any very high and high risk links if this site is ever to recover. Just like citycrybs.com and citycrybs.com, it’s safe to say that this redirect of elikaassociates.com is also passing low quality links to elikarealestate.com.

4.  Summary

The possible reasons why elikarealestate.com was hit by Penguin 2.1 in October 2013 include:

  • Excessive Money keyword link building
  • Too many spammy and untrusted backlinks
  • Excessive usage of web and article directories
  • Over half of their link profile is made up of redirects from potential penalized sites, proven by their overall link detox risk of 1000 plus. We now know from the recent studies done after penguin 2.0 that any site with an overall score of 1000 or above will have been penalized by Penguin.
  • An average link detox risk of 1594 (after the disavow file was added)

5.  Conclusion & Recommendations

This was a deep dive into elikarealestate.com’s link profile and SEO practices. After looking at elikarealestate.com, the initial jump in traffic was acquired from the 301 redirects of the other 3 domains after Penguin 2.0.

Search Metrics Results 1

I emailed the owner again to find out when the other 3 sites where redirected to elikarealestate.com, and they informed me that it was around the end of June 2013 (see point C).

This would explain the surge in traffic around July 2013 that can’t be associated with a Penguin update, as we know Penguin 2.0 was back on May 22nd. They continued to rank with their added link power until Penguin 2.1 on October 4th which sees them fall steeply, and that’s were they have continued to remain ever since.

I personally think previous SEO companies have given them bad advice. Instead of fixing the initial problem with elikaassociates.com, they have jumped ship several times. They have started with a new domain, built some questionable links to gain partial ranking, and then destroyed the ranking (along with the site) by redirecting their previous penalized sites to their new one.

Previous cleanup work carried out by elikarealestate.com and their SEO companies was nowhere near enough to justify continued ranking or pre-Penguin penalty levels in SERPs. A lot of work is still required if elikarealestate.com is ever to compete in this very competitive marketplace.

6.  Conclusion & Recommendations

In order for elikarealestate.com to regain a clean and healthy link profile, I would recommend the following:

  • Complete link audit of all existing backlinks to elikarealestate.com
  • Remove the 301 redirects from the 3 low quality penalized sites
  • Try to manually remove as many of the toxic and risky links as possible
  • Any links that can’t be manually removed should be added to a Google disavow file
  • Use Link Detox Boost to reduce the time taken for Google to cache the sites

Going forward, they should make sure most of the links use brand anchor texts, other anchors (Click Here, Review, our review, etc.) and no more excessive link building practices.

Also, any good, healthy and strong links currently pointing to their other 3 redirected sites should be changed to the new site by contacting those webmasters and explaining that they have now changed to elikarealestate.com to build on their brand.

What do you think?

We appreciate hearing your comments!

This case study was written by Andrew Edwards, Owner and Founder of madaboutbingo.com, and proud user of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox.


A word from Christoph C. Cemper

Certified LRT Professional This analysis was conducted and written by our new Certified LRT Professional, Andrew Edwards.

Andrew demonstrated his expertise in doing a deep analysis on why Elika Real Estate dropped from SERPs and haven’t been able to recover. 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 Andrew Edwards as the latest Certified LRT Professional 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 are key to achieving this goal.
I look forward to his future work, and personally recommend working with Andrew Edwards whenever you get the opportunity!

Certified LRT Professional Andrew Edwards

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Andrew Edwards
Andy is a professional affiliate marketer and has been in the online gambling sector since 2006. He has extensive knowledge of this sector along with gambling related SEO and has been an EGR power 50 affiliate for the past 3 years. He has a number of top affiliates sites and joined Link Research Tools to bring all his SEO for these sites in house. Andy is also available for SEO audits, Google Penalty Removal and link risk management services for both gambling and none related websites.
Andrew Edwards
Andrew Edwards

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14 Comments

  1. @martand4u on May 14, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    RT @cemper: NEW Case Study: Site Damaged by 301 Redirects from Penalized Domains by Andrew Edwards! Enjoy & Learn! http://t.co/5ooBDf2OjM

  2. @lnkresearchtool on May 14, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Penguin 2.1 Evicts New York Real Estate Company from SERPs http://t.co/b0lHRmP7c4

  3. @trevoredw1 on May 14, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Good article from my twin bros @AndyEdw234 -> http://t.co/f5zmm0Ybob

  4. @Spacemonkey7 on May 14, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    RT @cemper: RT @AndyEdw234: Penguin 2.1 Evicts New York Real Estate Company from SERPs http://t.co/ulz6cu6QRU

  5. @HowardJameson1 on May 15, 2014 at 11:37 am

    RT @cemper: RT @AndyEdw234: Penguin 2.1 Evicts New York Real Estate Company from SERPs http://t.co/ulz6cu6QRU

  6. Rick Lomas on May 15, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Hey congratuations Andrew, you made it – well done! The scenario of ‘a client trying to save the site’ is one I am familiar with. A Reconsideration Request failed for a client recently, when I checked the links again there was loads of crap press releases that I hadn’t seen yet. The client then said that he had been using a PR gig on a Fiverr that promised ‘Penguin Friendly Links’, whilst he was waiting from the reply from Google. I told him to stop and then disavowed some more of the new links. We then did a 2nd Reconsideration Request and …. Boom! Manual penalty revoked 🙂

  7. @AndyEdw234 on May 19, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    RT @cemper: RT @AndyEdw234: Penguin 2.1 Evicts New York Real Estate Company from SERPs http://t.co/ulz6cu6QRU

  8. Luke on October 20, 2014 at 5:03 am

    Thanks for this. I’ve had enquiries from two people today who were the victims of obvious – and successful – negative SEO last year. Both had moved their sites to new domains and 301 redirected. Both sites recovered fully in the SERPs very shortly after moving domains and have been fine since.
    …Until yesterday when they both disappeared for all searches except their business names. One has a manual action notice, the other doesn’t. It looks like the latest update is much stricter with 301s than before.

  9. Andrew Edwards on October 20, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Good morning Luke,
    I dont think the 301’s have been done properly when they moved. Bartosz wrote an excellent case study regarding 301’ing penalised domains to a new domain here http://www.linkresearchtools.com/case-studies/google-penguin-recovery-redirect-method/.
    I reckon not all of the blackhat links were added to the disavow file. You have to remember you can submit a disavow file for the old domain which includes the bad backlinks, but if you havent added these links to your new domains disavow file then google will take all these into account.
    I am nearly 100% certain this is what has happened to your clients sites

    • Luke on October 20, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Hi Andrew, thank you for that link and your suggestion. I’m getting onto it right now.

    • Luke on October 31, 2014 at 1:41 am

      Andrew, I though you might be interested in an update. For the first one, I removed the 301, audited the links, and had all the good links I could edited to the new domain. I then ran a fetch recrawl.

      9 days on and yesterday the link profile from the 301 disappeared from Links to Your Site in Webmaster Tools. And the SERP results are now back to normal – in fact a little better.

      I was expecting to have to wait until they ran another refresh – so pretty happy! Just finished running the same on the second site.

      Cheers,
      Luke

      • Andrew Edwards on October 31, 2014 at 9:57 am

        Hi Luke, thats great new i thought this was the main reason as i am seeing it more and more where the 301 wasn’t done properly. I forgotten myself on some of my own sites and was scratching my head as to why it wasn’t working.
        With Penguin still meant to be running out i would advise you double check the all the links on the old domains via detox with “dropped link removed” unticked. As there will be links pointing to the old domains which wont show up on your new domains detox report as they are pointing to the old domain so these need to be included as well. If you need more information PM on my twitter account and ill pass on my email of office number to talk you through what i have done to recover sites in the same situation as your clients.

  10. Sandeep on November 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for putting this together. I am going to start over with a new domain and thus shall leave behind my old one.

    I want my customers to land on my new website but you are saying that 301 from crappy one to new one, does not seem a good idea.

    Then what are the options I left with ?

    Please Reply.

  11. Andrew Edwards on November 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Hi Sandeep,
    you could analysis your old sites backlink profile using DTOX and contact the webmasters with the healthy links and ask them to change them to your new Domain. Then have a basic landing page on your old site saying we have moved to *****.com but with no link on the landing page.

    You could stick with the old domain and clean it up whilst getting new links, depending on how good/bad the link profile is only you know if its worth keeping.

    And finally just start over with the new domain, let all your customers know and focus on new clean backlinks to the new domain.

    Hope that helps

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