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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.

Old school tricks do not work anymore. Penguin hit the link network!

Google Penguin 2.1 Penalty Volusion.comE-commerce and site builder sites better pay attention. This could be their site. employs many of the same link building strategies as their competition, but they went too far. They built thousands of sitewide footer links on domains they hosted - creating their very own link network. Google is not happy.

In this thorough and extremely instructive case study, Arda Mendes investigates what could have caused their penalty, and what actually did hurt them. Even if your site isn't in this sector, if your clients are linking back to you from their footer, our next case study could be about you.

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

Today we will discuss the decrease of’s search visibility after the release of Penguin 2.1. We will discover the reasons of the loss as well as the consequences for In this research, there will be a detailed analysis of’s backlinks, an examination of sector shareholders, and how 2.1 negatively affected’s performance.

2. About the Sector

“Online store builder” companies provide e-commerce software and usually host customers’ online stores at their own servers. is one of the most important service providers in the sector. Knowing the companies that are active in the “online store builder” sector is important before starting the analysis. Below you find some of the biggest “online store builders” and’s strongest competitors:

  1. Shopify (80,000+ active Online Stores)
  2. Bigcommerce (49,000+ active Online Stores)
  3. Weebly eCommerce (30,000+ active Online Stores)
  4. 3dCart
  5. Wazala

3.’s SEO Visibility

We are going to use Searchmetrics to check Penguin 2.1’s (released on October 4, 2013) negative impact on’s search visibility. Searchmetrics calculates a website’s SEO visibility based on keyword rankings and other metrics.’s search visibility drops occurred on 26th of May 2013 – 4 days after the Penguin 2.0 rollout, and on the 6th of October 2013 – 2 days after the Penguin 2.1. rollout. In this analysis we are going to discover the reasons why got hit by Penguin 2.1. SEO Visibility –

4. – Loser Keywords

With Searchmetrics, we will detect which keywords went down in their positions: Searchmetrics –’s Loser Keywords Here we can clearly see that lost rankings for keywords that are significant in this sector. Now let’s examine their position history. Charts of keyword position history show ranking history of the words. We will take a look at ranking values of these words before and after the Penguin update.

4.1. Position History - Keyword #1: E-commerce Solutions

Ecommerce – Keyword Position History

4.2. Position History - Keyword #2: Shopping Cart Software

Shopping Cart Software – Keyword Position History

4.3. Position History - Keyword #3: Free Live Chat

Free Live Chat – Keyword Position History So it is time to answer the vital question, “Why has Volusion lost its ranking?”

5. Keyword Ratios

First, we will look at the website’s backlinks by using the “Quick Backlink Tool” (QBL). Enter the domain you want to analyze and activate the sitewide links filter. Quick Backlink Tool (QBL) After the report is finished, we will sort the link’s anchor texts by count. QBL – Sorted By Count To see the other keywords, we export data as XSLX. QBL – Export as XSLX In the excel sheet, we are looking for our loser keyword “ecommerce solutions”. QBL – Deep dive looking Now we take a look at the anchor text ratio for some of the dropped keywords:

  • Shopping Cart Software: 3.8%
  • Free live chat software: 2.2%
  • E-commerce solutions: 0.1%

To see whether these percentages are too high for this sector or not, we need to compare these ratios with the competitors’ ratios by using the “Competitive Landscape Analyzer Tool” (CLA). We are going to do a CLA for each keyword listed above. To find the competitors for the keywords listed above, we simply use the “find competing pages” option. CLA Input Mask After entering our keyword and selecting the right search engine, language and country, we are ready to find our competitors. Find Competing Pages Option Since there are some unrelated websites - like “godaddy” and “paypal” - that manipulate results to appear in the online store builder sector and aren’t actually competitors, we will delete them and add true competitors from the online store builder sector. CLA – Input Mask 2 We will analyze the “Domain Backlinks” because we want to dive deep. We will also use the "Link Boost" function to analyze more backlinks. Activating the sitewide links filter will provide us with more accurate results and aid us in analyzing many more domains. After the report has been created, we need to classify the anchor texts. For proper and reliable data, we should categorize 80-90% of all keywords. CLA - Keyword Classification After categorizing keywords, we are ready to interpret the graph.

5.1. Keyword #1: E-commerce Solutions

CLA – Metric Comparison by Keyword 3 While pays more attention to trademark awareness, it can manage only an average Compound ratio. When considering the Money keyword ratio, falls behind its competitors’ ratios. We are going to analyze two more keywords, “free live chat software” and “shopping cart software”. To analyze them, we need to follow the same steps we followed to analyze the keyword “e-commerce solutions”.

5.2. Keyword #2: Shopping Cart Software

CLA – Metric Comparison by Keyword 3

5.3. Keyword #3: Free Live Chat Software

CLA – Metric Comparison by Keyword 3 Considering the anchor text ratios for the keywords “shopping cart software” and “free live chat software”, results clearly show that too many exact match anchor texts are not the reason why got hit by Penguin 2.1. Nevertheless, its anchor text ratios are very unnatural, as their Brand ratio is very high compared to its competitors. This should be looked at in detail. To better understand the backlink strategy of, we continue to analyze’s backlink profile.

6. Sitewide Links

An easy way to analyze the sitewide links is to use the “Juice Tool”. We are going to switch it to “Detail Analysis” mode. Juice Tool – Detail Analysis Mode Enter the domains you would like to analyze and select “Link Ratio Metrics” to analyze sitewide ratios. The “Link Boost” function will provide more backlinks. Juice Tool - Settings The result page that we examine shows the website’s sitewide ratios (SWR). Juice Tool - SWR Let’s have a look at the table above:


Sidewide Links: ~ 1,044 links/domain


Sitewide Links: ~ 571 links/domain


Sitewide Links: ~ 224 links/ domain


Sitewide Links: ~ 38 links / domain

The gap of sitewide links between these sites is noticeable. We are going to make a detailed analysis of this issue.

6.1. Sitewide links - Deep Dive

In the previous chapter we could see that has too many sitewide links, as well as far more Brand links than its competitors. So we can assume that most of its sitewide links are Brand ones. Let’s test this assumption by going back to the QBL report we ran and sorting all anchor texts by count. QBL – Anchor Texts

Anchor Text #1: Volusion 56.2% of’s backlinks have the anchor text “volusion”. By clicking on the keyword, the report shows us all backlinks having the anchor text “volusion”. Finally we found what we were looking for: many sitewide links to from an e-commerce website having the anchor text “volusion”. Let’s look at them in detail: QBL – Filtered By Anchor Text

6.1.1. Sitewide Links from – Sitewide Footer Link First of all, the website is related to chess and chess games –an off-topic website. It seems that built the website for and placed a link as a signature in the footer. It seems that this has been the major link building tactic for – placing footer sitewide links on all client websites. Let’s see if this tactic has been used not only for Brand links but also for Compound and Money.

Anchor Text #2: Volusion Ecommerce When we look at the filtered results, we can clearly see sitewide links for this keyword as well. QBL – Filtered By Anchor Text 2

6.1.2. Sitewide Links from

As in the previous example, this website is also “powered by”. – Sitewide Link 2 Anchor Text #3: Shopping Cart Software For this keyword, there are also some sitewide links. QBL – Filtered By Anchor Text 3

6.1.3. Sitewide Links from

As you can predict, there is one footer link. Finalcall Footer Anchor Text Shopping Cart Software Where is the link? According to the screenshot above, there is no link in the footer. In such cases, we should look at the page source. – Page Source Looking at the page source, we can see that the link to is in the same color as the background of the site, so that’s why the link isn’t clearly identifiable. That is an old school trick. It has been used for several years as a link building technique, but it does not work anymore and Google doesn’t like it! By examining’s backlinks, we can see that most of them are in the footer from off-topic websites. As a company policy, placed footer links with Money, Brand and Compound anchor texts on their clients’ websites. This policy brings lots of off-topic and spammy backlinks which can cause a penalty, as happened in the case of in 2011 (see So, did’s sitewide links create a penalty due to the Penguin 2.1? Absolutely!

7. Weak Links

Now we are going to check the link profiles of and its competitors with the “Quick Domain Compare” (QDC) tool. The QDC report will help us get a quick overview of Power*Trust ratios for all domains. Then we are going to compare the Power*Trust ratio of and its competitors for several keywords with the help of the CLA reports we created before. We simply start the Quick Domain Compare and enter the domains we would like to analyze. Quick Domain Compare (QDC) The screenshot shows us Power, Trust and Power*Trust values. and its competitors were analyzed. QDC – Results seems to have a powerful backlink profile compared to its rivals. The LRT Power™ is the perfect metric that succeeds Google PageRank™. The LRT Power™ metric has a similar algorithm – it simply evaluates the strength of a website based on quantity and power of links. The LRT Trust™ metric helps you evaluate the quality of a link. LRT Trust™ works with the same concept as the TrustRank patent and shows the trust of a page in Google. Credibility of a page is determined by calculating the "trust" value coming from trusted sites. LRT Power*Trust™ is the metric you need for examining the quality of your links. LinkResearchTools invented it after years of research and calculations. This extraordinary metric specifies the quality of a website, considering its strength and trustworthiness. Now let’s get back to our CLA charts:

Anchor Text #1: E-commerce Solutions Power*Trust ratios of’s backlinks and its competitors Anchor Text #2: Shopping Cart Software Power*Trust ratios of’s backlinks and its competitors 2 Anchor Text #3: Free Live Chat Software Power*Trust ratios of’s backlinks and its competitors 3 When we compare the link profiles by Power*Trust, we realize that there is a highly unnatural distribution which could have had contributed to the website’s drop. In that case, it is not possible to say that has been penalized due to its weak links, as most of its links aren’t weak (most of them have a high Power*Trust of 8 – 12).

8. Deeplinks

After the weak links analysis in chapter 7, we are going to look at’s deeplink ratios. Let’s use the CLA reports again. Startpage links commonly look more natural than deeplinks. But deeplink ratios always must be examined according to the sector. Let’s go back to the CLA report created before and click the “Deeplink Ratio” tab.
Anchor Text #1: E-commerce Solutions CLA – Deeplink Ratio Anchor Text #2: Shopping Cart Software CLA – Deeplink Ratio 2 Anchor Text #3: Free Live Chat Software CLA – DeepLink Ratio 3 Here we can see that almost all links refer to the startpage! We can clearly see that does not care about deeplinks. An unnatural deeplink ratio can not be the only trigger for a sharp drop. But this issue can become more meaningful when combined with other unnatural patterns such as off-topic sitewide links and link networks as shown in chapters #6 and #12. In my opinion,’s deeplink ratio looks suspicious and unnatural. Did the deeplink ratio contributed to the penalty? Yes!

9. Did Off-Topic Links cause the Penalty?

It is a fact that is using sitewide link building strategies. As I have shown in chapter 6, this policy brought lots of off-topic links! We will test this assumption by analyzing’s backlinks by using the “Backlink Profiler” (BLP) tool to examine the themes of the linking sites. We enter the domain we’d like to analyze and activate “5x Link Boost”. This will bring up more backlinks. Further, activating “Basic SEO stats” is important to get the “Theme of the site”. BLP – Input Mask After the report is applied, we click on the “Theme” tab. The result will show us the link profile for sorted by “Theme”. BLP – Link Profile for by Theme of a Domain After looking at the general link profile for by theme of a domain, it is required to analyze each keyword in order to see sectorial imbalances. Having a natural link profile means that it is same or similar with the competitors’ link profile. If there are huge differences, it creates unnatural link profiles. Now we run a CLA! Click on the “Detail Analysis” tab. CLA – Detail Analysis In this analysis, we select the “Theme of a Domain” option from the Basic SEO stats metrics. CLA – Theme of a Domain Anchor Text #1: E-Commerce Solutions CLA – Metric Comparison by Theme of a Domain Anchor Text #2: Shopping Cart Software CLA – Metric Comparison by Theme of a Domain 2 Anchor Text #3: Free Live Chat Software CLA – Metric Comparison by Theme of a Domain 3 Here we notice that the ratio of links from “shopping” websites is higher than the average. The same is for links from “Business / Economy” websites. So it seems got caught by off-topic radar. Did off-topic links contribute to the penalty? Yes.

10. Did poor link diversification cause the penalty?

Natural backlink profiles must have link diversification. We are going to analyze the link diversification for and its competitors by using the CLA. Therefore, we select the “Type of Site” option from the Basic SEO stats metrics. CLA – Type of a Site Here we can see that, within the online store builder sector, there is generally not a lot of link diversification. The screenshot shows us that falls behind its competitors: CLA – Metric Comparison by Type of a Site Online store builder services have not many link variations because they usually place links in their clients’ templates. In my opinion, although obtains fewer blog links than their rivals, poor link diversification didn’t contribute to the penalty. Now let’s also check the website’s link distribution by country by using the CLA: CLA – Link Source When we compare the links by countries, there is no unusual situation. CLA – Metric Comparison by Hosting IP address country Code

11. Did Advertorial Links Cause The Penalty?

Some of the links I’ve found show patterns of paid links. Google pays a lot attention to this matter. To see if we can find advertorial links, we’re going to run a BLP. Check the links location and then click the “Link Check” box. BLP - LinkLoc Only twenty “InContent” links are seen in the table., which is an authority in digital, and, which is an authority in its field as well, are two websites that are linking to BLP - InContent When we look at the anchor text of the pages from which the InContent links are taken, it is clearly seen that most of the links have Brand anchor texts and therefore look quite natural. So, did paid links cause the penalty? No! However, I want to share something important with you. While is getting some links from high authority websites, should be careful not to let their article directory links be seen as a paid link strategy. Incontent – Example Usage of Bad InContent Strategy

12. Did Toxic Links cause the penalty?

To analyze the toxic & suspicious backlinks of properly, we are going to use the Link Detox Tool (DTOX). With this tool, we can determine which links are harmful to a website. We select the “don’t know” option because we don’t know whether got any manual penalties or not. Further, we use the classic mode in order to check the existing backlinks. Also, we tell the tool to analyze both versions of the website - www and non-www. Link DTOX Tool – Input Mask After the Link Detox report has been prepared, we have to classify at least 80% of all keywords. Link DTOX Tool – Classify Link Dtox Tool – Keyword Classification Here we need to classify if the keywords are either Brand, Compound, Money or others. This is the result of our Detox: DTOX – Average Link Detox Risk When we look at the ratios, only 1% of’s links are healthy, but 99% of them are suspicious. In that case, we should deeply examine these suspicious links and check the Detox rules. DTOX - Description

12.1. Examining the suspicious links deeply

Let’s look at the “detox rules breakdown”. Rules of SUSP23, SUSP22, and SUSP9 are the first due to their percentage. Detox Rules Breakdown Now we export these data and check the links one by one. DTOX – Export as First, we want to check if we can identify link networks in which is participating. Therefore, we check links for which of the following Detox rules apply: Detox Rules – SUSP22-24 Percentage of SUSP22-24 According to Detox, 45,4% of’s backlinks show the same footprints as other linking domains. As will be shown below, hosts its customers’ online stores on their own servers. This means that created its own link network. Secondly, we are going to look at the rules SUSP8 and SUSP9. Detox Rules – SUSP8-9 Percentage of SUSP8-9

13.7% of’s links have the same Class-C as other linking domains, and 17.3% have the same DNS as other domains. is hosting their clients on their own servers. After links that are located in the footer - as needed for the link building strategy - thousands and thousands of backlinks were taken through the same IP and DNS address. Next, we are going to analyze the rule SUSP31 known as “suspicious anchor text location”. Detox Rules – SUSP31 As we have seen, locates its links in the footer. Link Detox rated these links as suspicious (SUSP31). When we select one of the SUSP31 links and look at its “Neighborhood Domains”, the table is alarming. Detox Neighborhood Domains All these domains are hosted on the same IP address and DNS. All of them are linking to’s sitewide link strategy, and hosting its client websites on its own server, created a link network. Even if these links are not toxic, Google has punished the website because these links are part of a network.

12.2. Link Profiles of’s and its Competitors

Now we are going to do a “Competitive Link Detox” analysis to compare’s link risk with the link risk of its competitors. Go to CDTOX and enter the domains you would like to analyze: CDTOX – Input Mask CDTOX reports may take longer than other reports – this report took two days to be completed. At this point, you should be patient and wait for the report to be completed. After the report is completed, look at the sectorial balances in the “Detox” tab. CDTOX – Metric Comparison by Detox Notice that has only a few “healthy” links but a lot of suspicious ones. With CDTOX reports, we are able to see sectorial balances. Because some websites that are active in the online store builder sector have the same link building strategy, the numbers we have are almost the same. However, it is seen that has more suspicious and fewer healthy links than its competitors. Since we are using sector averages, we can say that this situation negatively affects In the next step, we are going to look at the “Link Detox Rule” tab. CDTOX – Metric Comparison by Link Detox Rule When we were examining the Detox results, we noticed that SUSP22-24 rules had the biggest percentage. After the CDTOX report, we can see that is over the average in SUSP22 and SUSP24 rules. We also examined the other rule sets: SUSP8-9. In SUSP8 rules, is below the average. However, in SUSP9 rule, which detects the links on the same DNS, has a higher percentage. The other rule set which we examined for is SUSP31. This ratio is fine. The results of Detox and CDTOX have shown there are no toxic links for or sector shareholders. However, due to their similar strategies, their percentage of suspicious links is high. After a detailed examination of the applied rules, has a higher percentage of links with SUSP9 and SUSP22-24 rule sets than its sector average. With the link building strategy that is applied by competitors, is caught with being higher than the sector average. Did suspicious links cause the penalty to Yes

13. Did Unnatural Link Velocity cause the Penalty?

A website’s link growth is also one of the things we should pay most attention to. Link velocity trends are vital for this case analysis. It’s high time to look at’s link growth and its competitors. We add the sites that are sectorial shareholders when we create a Link Velocity report. Start the CLV, and then enter the domain and competitors. Let’s look at the Link Velocity of the last 24 months. CLV – Input Mask Competitive Link Velocity – Domain Popularity Looking at the popularity of domains in 2013, it is possible to say that has been progressing in direct proportion to its competitors. Can unnatural link growth cause the penalty? No!


We have examined why is a Penguin 2.1 victim.

14.1. Were too many exact match anchor texts the reason for the penalty?

After the CLA analysis that compared and its sectorial competitors, it is possible to see that the Money keyword ratio is lower than the total average. In that case, the ratio of using exact match anchor texts didn’t cause any penalty. No.

14.2. Did too many sitewide links cause the drop?

The analysis made via the Juice Tool showed us that’s sitewide ratio is two times higher than - which is known as the most important site of the sector. places its signature link in the footer of some sites as a company policy. However, sometimes these links are placed using an “old school SEO trick”: They are in the same color as the background of the site. In that case, the sitewide link ratio had some negative effect on! Yes.

14.3. Did weak links cause the drop?

By checking the Power*Trust ratios of’s backlinks and its competitors, we found that has far more strong links than its competitors. Although this can be seen as unnatural, weak links didn’t cause any penalty! No.

14.4. Did an unnatural deep-link ratio cause the drop?

When we analyzed the deeplink ratios, we clearly saw that doesn’t pay attention to its subpages. Their sitewide link strategy focused all links to the startpage. Making subpages weaker than their competitors’ caused the penalty! Yes.

14.5. Did off-topic links cause the drop?

When we look at the sectorial balances, we realized that has an inappropriate amount of off-topic links. This situation caused a penalty. Yes.

14.6. Did poor link diversification cause the drop?

According to CLA reports, link diversification of seems to be within sector standards. Having a bit fewer links from blogs cannot have a high impact. Therefore, no, this issue didn’t contribute to the penalty.

14.7. Did advertorial links cause the drop?

When we examined InContent links,’s links can be considered natural because they are from authority websites and have Brand anchor texts. This is crucial for natural link building. Considering the general building, advertorial links didn’t cause any penalty.

14.8. Did suspicious links cause the drop?

After the DTOX and CDTOX analyses, it is possible to say that and its competitors don’t have many toxic links. However, their strategies represent a link network and are caught by the filter. After a detailed analysis, is caught by their higher than average sectrorial values. It is penalized as link network. YES!

14.9. Did an unnatural link velocity cause the drop?

When we examined’s link velocity trend based on domain popularity, we see that it is similar to its competitors and therefore couldn’t cause the penalty. NO!

15. What should do?

We can clearly see that has a strong backlink profile according to the sectorial balances. is a victim of Penguin 2.1, mostly because of their own link network. To recover, they first should stop placing signature links in the footer. It should create natural and creative link building strategies. In addition, they need to pay attention to unnatural metrics such as the website’s backlinks’ Power*Trust ratios. Due to the applied strategy, should get rid of its link network by offering better hosting to its clients. In the long term, when SEO strategies are determined, sectorial balances should be considered.

16. Epilogue

Considering the sectorial balances makes the analysis. Using it as a resource for another case isn’t appropriate. Sectorial balances should be considered for each site and each keyword and should be used as a guide by converting the data that is retrieved from analysis into information.

This case study was written by Arda Mendes, Head of Operations at SEOZEO, 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, Arda Mendes.

Arda demonstrated his expertise by analyzing why Volusion disappeared in SERPs. He did a great job investigating the possible causes and focusing on the true causes of their penalty. Therefore, I’m very happy to certify Arda Mendes 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 Arda Mendes whenever you get the opportunity!

Certified LRT Professional Arda Mendes

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Arda Mendes

Arda Mendes

SEO Consultant at
After working as Head of Operations for SEOZEO, Arda Mendes currently does consulting for leading companies in Turkey.
Arda Mendes
Arda Mendes

Latest posts by Arda Mendes (see all)


  1. @lnkresearchtool on April 5, 2014 at 9:34 pm Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers

  2. @seonational on April 5, 2014 at 10:35 pm Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers –

  3. Rick Lomas on April 5, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Ah!! now I can see why we were having the discussion in the Certified Group this morning about the SUSP22/SUSP23 Rule! Excellent work and huge congratulations for getting to the CLRTP level. See you in Vienna next month maybe?

    • Arda Mendes on April 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      You got me Rick! Thank you so much for your kind words. I’ll try to be there on May 15th.

  4. @perbaran on April 6, 2014 at 11:46 am

    RT @ardamendes: @futuristufuk CEO, SEO’suz olmaz ise, bir Türk’ün elinden çıkan case study okunur o halde 🙂

  5. @StuartDReed on April 6, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    We’ve said it before SEO can work but get it wrong and Ooops! Don’t try to fool Google….

  6. @YouRankAU on April 6, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Case Study of the Penalty – They Created a Customer Link Network

  7. @patrickcoombe on April 7, 2014 at 2:12 am

    Volusion Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers

  8. @ardamendes on April 7, 2014 at 8:56 am

    Cumartesi gecesi @lnkresearchtool tarafından yayınlanan, @Volusion’ı ele alan vaka analizi:

  9. @TechToni on April 7, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Volusion #ecommerce platform got penalized by Penguin –

  10. @tanselakdan on April 7, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Sevgili @ardamendes ten başarılı bir vaka analizi #seo

  11. @hyderali_ on April 7, 2014 at 2:20 pm Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers via @cemper > Commented on Google+ Pls respnd

  12. @LuisAngelPriego on April 7, 2014 at 5:44 pm Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers vía @cemper

  13. @tomyches on April 7, 2014 at 6:16 pm Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers vía @cemper

  14. William Thompson on April 7, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Do you think they would have been penalized if all of the footer links had a “nofollow” tag? Or do you think the penalty would have happened anyway?

    • Arda Mendes on April 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      So here’s another good question. I recommend you to see the big picture. Yes, i talked about site-wide links but please do not underestimate the link networks.

  15. @cahabel on April 7, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    RT @ardamendes: Cumartesi gecesi @lnkresearchtool tarafından yayınlanan, @Volusion’ı ele alan vaka analizi:

  16. @ardamendes on April 7, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Hala okumadıysan, kahve eşliğinde vaka analizine göz atmak için iyi bir saat!

  17. Irving Weiss on April 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Arda – great study. I am curious if you reviewed the link location and position stats and how did they fare compare to their competitors. These stats will clearly show if their strategy was to employ backlinks in the header or footer across their shopping platform. Do you believe Volusion will have enough authority in Google to rank highly once they nofollow or remove their backlink from their internal network.

    • Arda Mendes on April 10, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      Hey Irwing, that’s a really good question. Let me answer your question with data: has %69 footer links and total average is %54. I think that’s clear enough 🙂 I know that Volusion pays too much attention to SEO and their SEO manager is a attentive person! I hope they get well soon! 🙂

  18. @RichardABLS on April 7, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    SEO is practically rocket science when you reverse engineer Google penalties.

  19. Devereaux Harry-Barnwell on April 7, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks Arda and Christoph for sharing. Hopefully, Volusion will take notice of this and others who fall within the bracket of Thinking they know how to do proper SEO.
    There are some things I’ve hinted to them regarding SEO and none SEO issues but no resolve.

  20. Miguel Araujo on April 8, 2014 at 3:14 am

    this is very good info, a lot to read and think, thank for the info

  21. @ginagrigg on April 8, 2014 at 3:15 am Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers via @cemper

  22. @mathewaporter on April 8, 2014 at 11:16 am

    A great case study looking into Volusion’s Google penalty:…

  23. @LukasMoisi on April 8, 2014 at 12:49 pm Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers via @cemper

  24. @1DougSimpson on April 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    RT @RichardABLS: SEO is practically rocket science when you reverse engineer Google penalties.

  25. The one on April 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Volusion is not a “victim”, they brought this on themselves.

    Also, note that Vousion extorts their customers. If the customer does not display the link, they must pay Volusion $25 per month.

    • Arda Mendes on April 10, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Like Christoph said, Volusion must pay to their customers now!

    • Renee on April 17, 2014 at 12:11 am

      I just tried calling Volusion to get the sitewide link and hidden links removed. The rep had NO CLUE there was a manual penalty and told me that I would have to pay $20 a month to get it removed. Volusion, stop the madness and play by the rules like everyone else!

      • Dave on January 9, 2015 at 6:47 pm

        I was able to easily remove it it the footer, can you elaborate on the “hidden” links? I wasnt aware of these. Thx

  26. @GoECart on April 8, 2014 at 5:16 pm Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers via @cemper

  27. @JohnSGibb on April 8, 2014 at 8:07 pm Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers via @cemper

  28. @tyseo on April 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Volusion a vu son propre réseau de liens (construit grâce à ses clients) se faire sanctionner

  29. @PenguinTwittos on April 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    RT @tyseo: Volusion a vu son propre réseau de liens (construit grâce à ses clients) se faire sanctionner

  30. @fuelsocial on April 9, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Here’s a story of #LinkBuilding gone wrong; In this case, footer links are the repeat offender #seo:

  31. @sicodeandres on April 10, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Creando redes de enlaces con clientes propios via @cemper @lnkresearchtool

  32. @bart_goralewicz on April 10, 2014 at 11:49 am

    How NOT TO create the link network using your own customers? @linkresearchtools @ardamendes

  33. @seoanel84 on April 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm Created Link Networks by Using its Own Customers vía @cemper

  34. @ardamendes on April 10, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    RT @bart_goralewicz: How NOT TO create the link network using your own customers? @linkresearchtools @ardamendes

  35. Joshua on April 11, 2014 at 2:34 am

    What are the (specific) differences between the following rules SUSP 22, SUSP 23 and SUSP 24? From the rule definitions provided, I can’t tell the difference between these rules. The fact that 45% of Volusion’s backlinks have a similar link foot print is where the heart of their problem lies. That is truly unbelievable. They must be using the same SEO team for all of their sites. Surprised that was not mentioned as a possibility.

    Hidden footer links definitely attributed to the problem, especially the exact match phrase and the compound anchor phrases. Good find by the way. If Volusion would have just stayed with branded anchors and not hidden them, then they should have been fine.

    I am not sold on the deep link ratio, link diversification or off topic theme related issues did enough to cause this rank drop for Penguin. Their competitors have a lot of off-topic links too.

    Neither am I sold, if I understand it correctly, that the SWR was a major cause of V.’s drop either. Wouldn’t that just mean that V. clients have a greater number of pages per site than their competitors as a whole?

    Also, how can we know if SUSP 8 or 9 was a contributing factor without comparing these factors with V.’s direct competitors who did not suffer a penalty? Those ratios were not included in this case study. After all, isn’t it customary for ecommerce providers to also offer or require a hosted solution? I believe this is the case with Volusion.

  36. @stagetiger on April 13, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    For the data lover in you: Great SEO case study by @ardamendes on building link networks

  37. @pblomsterberg on April 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Painful #SEO mistake via @cemper

  38. @ardamendes on April 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    RT @stagetiger: For the data lover in you: Great SEO case study by @ardamendes on building link networks

  39. Ivan on April 24, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Great, great article Arda!

    It’s getting harder and harder to find the SEO blogs from people who actually describe real life SEO, as opposed to the marketing style articles just trying to sell the SEO service. I think your article actually sells your skills better than the usual marketing material that reads like: Do you want to be 1st in Google?

    Then again, your article requires a lot of knowledge. A very few people would actually understand it. Even a SEO novice would be lost.

    I might not agree with every point (and I am not the only one looking at the comments!), but have really enjoyed reading the post! It did give me ideas what should we do next with our SEO! 🙂


  40. @dukkanankara on May 25, 2014 at 11:01 am

    RT @ardamendes: Hala okumadıysan, kahve eşliğinde vaka analizine göz atmak için iyi bir saat!

  41. FYA on September 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    According to some webmaster Penguine is coming in this Month 🙂

  42. Dave on January 9, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    This is all really great information, but what about the clients that had the link in the footer back to volusion? I have read this could cause SEO problems. I have removed the link since reading this, but wanted to know more about how it could effect volusion’s client sites.

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