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Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis


This case study was created using an LRT Superhero account.

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hugo boss google penalty seo link networks

German link network crack down hurts huge Fashion Brand loses 39% search visibility over night due to Google Penalty.

Only a couple days ago Matt Cutts of Google announced they took action against a German agency link network. At the same time HugoBoss experiences a drastic drop in Google visibility of almost 39%.

This deep dive analyzes the website We look for possible reasons for that sharp visibility drop and try to find the mentioned link network.

What we found are not only high risk link patterns for HugoBoss that explain their drop. We also found similar bad linking tactics for other related major fashion brands maybe managed by the same agency.

- Enjoy & Learn!
Christoph C. Cemper

PS. In our deep-dives we want give readers clues on how to use LRT to identify backlink profile risks. We already see confirmed in the case study that cleanup of bad linking tactics is taking place as we speak. We highly recommend to use Link Detox Boost to shorten recovery time in this particular case and wish HugoBoss best of luck!


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

After we saw Halifax suffer from a significant drop in visibility just a few weeks ago, the number of major brands that Google slapped is steadily increasing. This week’s victim is one of several fashion-related brands that Google has recently penalized.

Could it be that Google finally stopped applying double standards and started to take action against rising link spam for big brand websites?

It seems like Google wants to wake up managers to the risks of SEO in 2014.

1.1 Facts about Hugo Boss

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are talking about

The well-known international fashion/lifestyle brand, Hugo Boss, has lately seen a huge drop in German search visibility. I don't think we need to introduce the brand, as they are known to almost everyone around the world.

Some facts about the brand:

  • 90-100% brand awareness in target group
  • 40-60% market share Boss Orange/Selection/HUGO
  • 15-30% market share Boss Orange/Green

“Hugo Boss AG is a German luxury fashion and style house based in Metzingen, Germany. In 2010, the company has sales of €1.7 billion and a net profit of €190 million,[14] with royalties of 78 million or 42% of total net profit.[14]”

1.2 About the drop

Search visibility for in German SERPS.

sistrix visibility root domain

First checks have shown this drop does not affect US or UK SERPS. So, the problem seems to be localized, and there is a good chance that we will be able to corner some major off-page problems within this analysis.

Here’s an interesting question, “Could there even be a connection to Matt Cutts’s tweet about Google taking action against a German agency link network after having killed a link network in France in January?”

“This week we took action on a German agency's link network/clients. More to come in Germany.”

Search visibility of in US SERPS.

sistrix visibility root domain US

Search visibility of in UK SERPS.

sistrix visibility root domain UK

2. Damage analysis

2.1 Which parts of the HugoBoss website were hit?

As the visibility loss only affects German SERPS, there is a good chance that we can limit our analysis to a specific part of the website.

After some quick research, we find a German online store subdomain that might be the suspect:

Let's check the search visibility for this subdomain:

sistrix visibility store germany

Verified. This subdomain is the reason for the specific drop in visibility. After the visibility index spiked in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 7.2, visibility steadily decreased until a huge drop down to 2.2 occurred over the last week.

The spike makes me think, “Could they possibly have been using some extensive link building in September and October 2013?” Keep this in mind for the off-page analysis later.

Before rushing into the link profile, I like to get even more details about the damage, check for critical rankings that have vanished, and/or find some example pages with huge drops to check them one by one.

2.2 Lost Keywords

To check the keyword losses and missing keywords, we use the Sistrix toolbox and compare the last high visibility date with the date of the visibility drop. The result looks like this:

sistrix lost keywords

Our first look shows rankings for some money keywords have dropped from the top 10, or even the top 5 positions, down to 80-100.

I will spare you the screen of the missing keywords. Next, we export all these losers and missing keywords, merge them into one xls file, and sort them by search volume.

After these steps, we end up with a nice list that should show us the most interesting losses in one quick overview.

In the final list, we can see some very valuable keywords like “jacken” (jackets) and “mützen” (hats). We'll keep these keywords in mind for when we check the anchor texts in use.

2.3 Comparison losses to anchor texts

Screenshot of my merged excel list with losers and missing keywords

sistrix ranking changes excel rework

3. Basic off-page check

3.1 Off-page History – changes in the link profile before the drop

To start our investigation into the backlink structure, we take a quick look at the “link velocity“ of this site using the Competitive Link Velocity Tool (CLV). It will give us a rough idea about when and how many links have been built in the past months.

lrt velocity all linking pages

We can easily see that, corresponding to the spike in search visibility, there is a sudden spike of new links just beforehand - which is not a huge surprise. Yet, it looks pretty extreme so we should check how the domainpop (number of linking root domains) has developed throughout 2013.

lrt velocity domain popularity

Well, there it is: contrary to the link popularity growth, the domain popularity growth tells a completely different story. This means the massive link growth in 09/10/13 was caused by one or more new site-wide links.

Double check it with the “site-wide ratio“ option:

lrt velocity sitewide ratio

Confirmed. Could these site-wide links be the reason for the sudden visibility peak and drop shortly after?

3.2 Link overview

Before I can come up with a theory, I should check the link profile in more detail. As the root domain has 17,000 linking root domains, I’m going to check the German store subdomain in particular. The subdomain only has 1,000 root domains linking and is therefore much easier to analyze.

3.3 Link Detox Risk

1401 – Deadly Risk. Well, that's quite a surprise and doesn't look too promising. Usually I find such a high risk on affiliate websites working primarily with very unnatural link profiles.

lrt average detox risk

3.4 Anchor texts

Next step: use the “anchor texts by detox risk” tab and check which anchor texts carry the unhealthiest karma. This view can give us some very valuable information:

lrt anchor by detox risk

What you can see here is a “cloud of meh” - the anchor texts that were used on sites that got detected as having a high detox risk are mediocre. If you look closely, you'll find some compound anchors like “boss bademode” or “boss nachtwäsche” - or even single/money keywords like “shirt” or “tunika” - amongst the usual vast amount of img and brand links in this category.

What we need to do now is:

  1. Export this list
  2. Sort by “average link detox risk”, descending (worst first)
  3. Filter out all brand anchors

The third step is important because, with growing visibility of a website, those high risk brand anchor links quickly spread. They usually emerge on scraper sites and other automated content-generating schemes that have low to zero P*T (LRT Power*Trust), but will also carry almost no danger for a brand website like

What is left, and what are we looking for?

lrt export anchor by detox risk sorted

After filtering, we have a nice little list of anchors with high average detox risk. We also find plenty of money keywords like “babymütze”, “minislip”, “bademode”, “abendschuhe”, “shirt”, “damenschuhe” and a lot more.

3.5 Anchor Text distribution

Even though we see a significant amount of brand links, there is also a huge amount of money keyword links. This is usually a good indication of why a website got dumped, especially when you see this in combination with some major keywords in the high toxic toplist from 3.2.1.

lrt anchor text distribution

3.6 Health Summary

link detox distribution summary

The deeper we look, the worse it gets. Looking at the health summary, the problems couldn't become more obvious.

Only 7% healthy links? Really?! Well, I better skip my comment on this one and leave you with my inner expression.

Are You Kidding Me

Honestly, it is clearly nothing to be proud of as a major brand. I am pretty curious how these values could possibly add up, so let's finally look at some links.

4. In-Depth off-page check

4.1 Toxic Links Check

link detox distribution summary toxic links check

Toxic links are always a good start to jump into the link profile. If we filter for only toxic links, our first finds are some links from spammy .de blog domains. Some are still active with heavy commercial anchor texts, while other anchor texts show “LinkNotFound“. These are most likely some links that have already been deleted.

lrt toxic links check results

This is why I always switch the “Remove deleted links” filter to “no” when starting a detox report. You realize why when you see how this bunch of deleted links contributes to detox risk. Spot the difference:

Detox Risk including deleted links

average link detox risk including deleted links

Detox Risk after dropping deleted links

average link detox risk including deleted dropped links

It seems like someone already cleaned up. Maybe this is the moment to take a look at Detox Boost for the Hugo Boss agency staff. 😉

Let’s see what we can recover. Looking for the Detox rules applied to the toxic links, we'll often find SUSP9. This rule is very interesting as it determines which sites are sharing the same name servers. If you got a lot of these, it is usually a good indicator of link networks in a backlink profile.

lrt toxic links check results networks

Could it really be this obvious? I am not sure what to think, but I am getting more and more curious now. Let's search for link networks.

4.2 Unveiling link networks

Keeping track of a possible link network, we take advantage of the Detox “Rules” filter. The following options can help us detect link networks:

  • SUSP6 Domain has the same registrant as other linking domains
  • SUSP7 Domain has the same IP as other linking domains
  • SUSP8 Domain has the same class C network as other linking domains
  • SUSP9 - Domain has the same DNS as other linking domains
  • SUSP12 - Domain has the same Google Analytics code as other linking domains - possible Link Network.
  • SUSP22 - same domain footprint
  • SUSP 23 - same domain footprint
  • SUSP24 - same domain footprint

Unveiling link networks

We'll start off checking the linking domains that could be identified as sharing the same name servers (SUSP9) and expand the view for the first link in the list:

lrt toxic links check results first network

Hint: If you want to check these network links in detail, all you need to do is apply “show all columns“ and filter the list for the given name server of the domain you just expanded the information for.

lrt toxic links check 5 Dns Pool filter Blog-Netzwerk

4.2.1 - SaSG GmbH & Co. KG

link network

Overall, there are 52 domains sharing one set of name servers, of which 18 are already de-indexed. But these sites have other similarities than just the name server.

What we see here is a rather obvious linking scheme that you wouldn't expect from any major brand. Let’s check some of these links in detail to find out when the strategy was applied.

Example 1:

link network example

Here we have a typical low quality blog link with heavy anchor text (“Arbeitstasche für Herren“). The publication date shows May 2013, which corresponds to a rising link velocity over this period.

One thing special and crucial for German webmasters is the imprint. You can find an imprint with contact information for almost every German website, which is a problem for people who want to build larger scale link networks on .de domains and German hosting spaces.

You'll soon see why. Just keep this picture in mind:

Basic imprint: first name, last name, address and email contact using an Arcor Freemail.

link network example

Example 2:

link network example

The second example looks pretty familiar, don't you think?

It's the same game: money anchor text, “Herren Kurzmantel“, and dated March 2013. Now let's check the imprint: Surprise! It’s also the same game: basic personal information and arcor email.

link network example

Long story short: you can check them one by one, and you will find the same cheap WordPress blogs with the same imprint on every .de domain in this network, and even on some of the domains. And in every imprint you'll find the same scheme, just with different names.

link network example

You find these German-based imprints even on domains. Doubtless, this is what it looks like.

All of these domains have low to no trust, and on every linking domain you could find commercial anchor texts in use.

The articles have been spread out between February and June 2013. Many of these links have already been deleted or no-followed. Some have even been de-indexed.

Network summary of

  • 52 domains
  • All fashion spam blogs
  • 18 not indexed any longer
  • All sharing generic imprint with contact addresses
  • Links built between 02/13-06/13

That's truly a nice find for the start as it fits perfectly into the Link Velocity graph:

link velocity domain popularity

But we are not finished yet. Remember, we only took the first link in the list and found this blog network. Will we find more? Of course we do.

Just scrolling down the list of SUSP9 links to the next set of name servers, we see the next heap of spammy bloglinks:

susp9 link networks

4.2.2 - SaSG GmbH & Co. KG

The DNS combination in our list is another one from the smaller German hoster, SaSG, and it perfectly adds to what we've seen before:

Network summary of

  • 84 domains
  • All fashion spam blogs
  • 42 TOX1
  • Almost all domains deleted (all Tox1)
  • All sharing generic imprint with contact addresses
  • – 03/12-01/13 (all deleted)
  • .de – 01/12-02/14

4.2.3 – United Domains

susp9 link networks 2

The list contains the following domains:

link network

Now this is what you get when you filter for name servers of a very common hoster like United Domains. (It is German-based, so you might not know it, but their 1.5 million registered domains are quite a lot.) While some of these domains look very suspicious, we still need to look closely to determine which domains belong to which network.

The most interesting looking groups of domains are the “schluesseldienst“/“schluesselnotdienst“ domains and, of course, the fashion domains.

“schluesseldienst“/“schlüsselnotdienst“ can be translated as “locksmith“ or “emergency locksmith“ and is a very spam-heavy topic in Germany. Having 21 of these domains linking to Hugo Boss is more than suspicious.

Furthermore, we have 32 new fashion domains sharing one Class C network, and they have all been de-indexed within the few last weeks - as you can see in the following example for the domain ““:

link network example google site

Luckily, we have to look up the domain history to see it had been active until January 2014 with the newest linking articles as late as December 2013. shows the domain was archived in December 2013.

link network example archive

Well, guess what the imprint looked like: another German fake name and fake address and a free-mail. shows a familiar imprint.

link network example archive 2

Very familiar, isn't it? These blogs surely belong to the same network that we could identify earlier on the other name servers, based on that typical pattern.

Let's look at the locksmiths:

link network example link sicherheitstechnik

What we have here is an image link from a link list. There might be some discussion about this topic, but to me this looks perfectly legit because it is a customer reference and the alt text of the image is just empty. The only bad thing about these links is that it’s a network structure. All the 21 domains in this network belong to one company, and the content is more or less copied with slightly different templates.

For a smaller target website, this might result in problems. But in this case, I consider such a minor link network to be a minor side effect that, at the most, might add to the overall drop.

Network summary of

  • 21 domains in the “locksmith“ network
  • 32 fashion spam blogs (6 share the same analytics code)
  • All fashion blogs have been taken offline by the owner and deindexed by Google
  • Generic imprint with contact addresses as seen on deleted fashion blogs via
  • Checked links built between 03/2013-12/2013


Network summary of

  • 10 domains .fr network
  • All fashion spam blogs
  • All domains have been taken offline by the owner, but Google has not deindexed some
  • Generic imprint with contact addresses as seen on deleted fashion blogs via
  • Checked links built between 01/2011-08/2013


Network summary of

  • 3 fashion spam blogs
  • All domains have been taken offline by the owner, but Google has not deindexed some
  • Generic imprint with contact addresses as seen on deleted fashion blogs via
  • Last snapshot is from January 2014

4.2.6 The same thing but different

More of these fashion blogs popped up when I turned off the DNS filter and only filtered my detox list for money keywords. Since we started with checking name servers, I'll handle these as “other name server, same thing“within this case study.

It's only a handful of sites following the same scheme as mentioned above.

4.2.7 Overall Link network summary

2,079 of 3.177 links in our Detox report show indications of network schemes.

Starting with the shared name servers, we were able to find a fashion blog network that has been active since 2011 and live until January 2014 (and maybe until early February 2014). Link building on these sites has taken place over the full time period.

The blog network contained approximately 150 spam blogs on .de,, .fr and .at tld. This comprises 15% of the domainpop of ~1000.

As of today, Google deindexed most of the spam blogs. Some were deleted by the webmaster before Google deindexed them.

All these blogs are sharing the same scheme of imprint, using a private name and address combined with an arcor freemal. One exception is an earlier part of the network that used ymail.

Another interesting similarity is the usage of “eine-seite“ as a page slug for the imprint. This is default for a German WordPress backend and could be found on all non .de tld.

Two common analytics codes could be identified in the blog network. The analytics codes have not been exclusively used for one specific hosting network. Instead, they were spread over all hosting accounts. Analytics code data was only provided for a few domains, so more Analytics codes could have been in use - connecting the hosting networks even further.

  • “UA-8600736“ (7 domains)
  • “UA-19089274“ (2 domains)

The links from these blogs were targeted at product pages, and anchor text usage was heavily focused on money keywords. Within the used range of keywords, many could be identified as penalized.

4.3 Site-wide Links

One thing we saw in the beginning was a rise in a site-wide link ratio in September and October 2014.

To look at those site-wide links, use the sorting function on the “site-wide links“ filter and apply it descending, so we see the most.

Result set sorted by site wide link count, descending

lrt sitewide links descending

I am not sure about the first result domain, It looks like a copy of the English version of a Japanese Hugo Boss store.

The second result is a site-wide link from the Chinese Hugo Boss online store, (as well as Dutch, Finnish and German subdomains).

If you look at the numbers, you'll see that there is a high possibility that these links have caused the questionable site-wide ratio raise.

Let me point out that I could find a total of 19 domains from the Hugo Boss site network linking to the German store. Aside from the Chinese domain (which is obviously linking site-wide) 4 of the other domains seem to be site-wide (500+ links), 2 domains are redirecting, and some just have 1 to 3 links to the German store. Those are basically legit links and redirect to the German store, so we don't have to worry about them.

But there is something else we can see in this set of links. Some of our spammy fashion blogs seem to have caused a massive number (20-622 links per domain) of internal copies from the linking snippet on numerous URLs, resulting in many site-wide occurrences for a simple blog post link.

Certainly, these links have not been built in the time of the massive raise in site-wide ratio, but they can be backtracked from 2012 to 2014, causing minor, but steady growth in site-wide ratio.

Blogs from the fashion network, sorted by site-wide link counts, descending

sitewide links filter fashion blogs

4.4 Redirects

We are nearly done, but there are still a few things left that we shouldn't forget about before we can finish our link analysis. One of them is analyzing the redirects. Use the filter for the column “Link Type” to only see all of the redirects going to the store.

Link Type Filter: Redirects

lrt redirects filter

As a result, we get a list of 30 pages from 14 different domains.

22 of the 30 links are redirecting to the German store entry page, 3 of them are redirecting to other subpages, and another 3 redirect to different products. We also find 2 redirects to subpages that don't exist anymore.

One third of those redirects come from 3 domains that belong to the Hugo Boss site-network. These are basically just different store domains redirecting to the current German store URL,, which is why they are legit and not suspicious after all.

Most of the remaining domains are some affiliate sites with a low “average” risk. Five of those pages show a high link risk warning because of a bad Title Rank or low Power*Trust. But all of the other links from the same domains show a low or moderate risk, even though the overall number of those redirects is way too small to do any serious damage.

Therefore, redirects from that comparatively small group of links are not noteworthy risks.

We’re almost done with the in-depth off-page check. To complete the overall picture, we just have to examine two things: widgets and deleted links.

4.5 Widget links

Something else made me scratch my head when checking the links of It will become visible when we filter the “from url“ for ““:

lrt filtered list

112 pages from 112 domains. If you click any of these links, it always looks like this:


It seems like there is a widget implemented in the website via iframe. Sadly, I wasn't able to find a live example on any of these websites. But we have other information that will give us an idea about what we see: All of the linking domains are sitting on the same IP address and show the same content. This is similar to the locksmith domain links. Because that link might have started as legit and wouldn't be much trouble for a brand like Hugo Boss, it would be a standalone problem. However, looking at the big picture, something like this might still add to a filter-triggered visibility drop on sites with less base trust.

4.6 Deleted links

1,670 of 3,177 linking pages have the anchor text, [LinkNotFound], which strongly suggests that these links are gone.

The most toxic deleted links are those that we found in the analysis of the blog network. I guess as soon as a domain got de-indexed, the owner deleted it.

After the drop occurred, even indexed blogs were deleted.

5. Off-page summary

We've assumed that the German Hugo Boss online store visibility drop might have been caused by usage of dirty linking schemes centered on blog spam. We could show some strong evidence indicating that this might be the case.

While there is a lot of unhealthy noise in the backlink profile that might be suspicious at first, like:

  • 21 locksmith domains
  • 112 domains with widgets from one IP
  • ~20 domains from the Hugo Boss brand network linking site-wide
  • 12 Russian language domains linking to the store
  • and some seemingly suspicious redirects,

Most of these have been spread by “natural causes“.

Even though there might be more that we didn't see without checking even deeper on such a big brand, a brand like Hugo Boss should be able to avoid being hurt from links like these because they accumulate vast amounts of natural links to offset the dirty ones.

And that may be why big brands get away with spam more often than other sites - especially with a construction like this where only a subdomain gets hurt and the root domain or other subs have nothing to lose. But all those links have one thing in common: they were not built using spammy anchor or alt texts.

The big problems in the link profile of our target site are the big spam blog network we've shown and the over-usage of money anchors: 150 domains, of which the majority is already deleted. The only purpose behind creating such a network is link trade. The fact that we could show ranking damage on most of the commercial keywords in use as anchor texts on these sites supports this theory.

And while the big talk is all about building great content, doing on-page right would boost your rankings. This is what reality actually looks like when you want to compete with the big players.

6. Conclusion

We were looking for a possible reason for this drop and we found it. A German agency’s link network is indeed responsible for this drop.

And it’s a pretty bad link network that hurt HugoBoss here, too. Why?

Because many other classy fashion brands affected and interlinked in the same agency network. This is a typical agency-style shortcut and in this case hurts many other brand.

We look into other high street fashion brands dropped very soon. This is also true because of the recent penalization of two major link networks from Poland, as Matt Cutts announced yesterday. Any many German SEOs utilized those networks, too.

Have you seen other major brands affects in Germany yet?

Who do you think will be next?

This case study was written by Christian Müller, Online Marketing Consultant, and proud user of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox.

A word from Christoph C. Cemper
Certified LRT ProfessionalOur newest Certified LRT Professional, Christian Müller conducted and wrote this analysis.

Christian displays his skills completing an SEO link audit on's 39% drop in search visibility over night due to Google Penalty. I am thrilled by the detail and structure he accomplished in his case study. Therefore, I'm happy to publish Christian Müller's 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 recommend Christian Müller to work with you, whenever you get the opportunity!
Certified LRT Professional Mario Schwertfeger

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Christian Müller

Christian Müller

Chris is an independent online marketing consultant, working in the business since 2006. After a short period of client work, he focussed on building own projects in the German finance niche exclusively. He is currently accepting clients again, offering penalty analysis, as well as a few new client slots for his long term consulting services.


  1. Schulze, Thomas on February 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Great findings and great analyse. Thanks a lot!

  2. @seodvize on February 25, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Google haalt linknetwerk van Duits SEO bedrijf neer en website van oa. Hugo Boss sneuvelt in de zoekresultaten

  3. @JetlirIzairi on February 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @cemper

  4. @BeautyAddictBel on February 25, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    RT @rwatrisse: loses 39% search visibility over night due to Google Penalty #SEO

  5. @PageRankSEO on February 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Sharp drop for HugoBoss and other brands – German link network crack down /by @chrm_tweets via @lnkresearchtool

  6. @PCBeveiligen on February 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    RT @websmash: Google haalt linknetwerk van Duits SEO bedrijf neer en website van oa. Hugo Boss sneuvelt in de zoekresultaten

  7. @btibor91 on February 25, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @cemper

  8. @MBDealer on February 26, 2014 at 8:42 am

    German link network crack down hurts huge Fashion Brand

  9. @Alexandru_Ban on February 26, 2014 at 9:09 am

    RT @MBDealer: Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @…

  10. @mfrischknecht on February 26, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Ups, HUGO BOSS is/was working with a bad SEM agency

  11. @MattesRieke on February 26, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    German link network crack down hurts huge Fashion Brand

  12. @patrickaltoft on February 26, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @cemper

  13. @andydoyles on February 27, 2014 at 12:19 am

    RT @patrickaltoft: Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis

  14. @berntjohansson on February 27, 2014 at 6:53 am Intressant om hur Hugo Boss Tyskland fastnat med fingrarna i kakburken. Eller deras SEO-byrå iaf. #svSEO

  15. @tommyskalberg on February 27, 2014 at 9:22 am

    RT @berntjohansson: Intressant om hur Hugo Boss Tyskland fastnat med fingrarna i kakburken. Eller deras SEO-byrå iaf…

  16. @andrewakesson on February 27, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Great analysis on German link network take down affecting Hugo Boss visibility via @cemper @HUGOBOSS #seo

  17. @florianwude on February 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    German link network crack down hurts huge Fashion Brand #SEO #Penguin

  18. @rorynatkiel on February 28, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Just what you wanted on a Friday afternoon – in-depth analysis of Hugo Boss’s #SEO penalty

  19. @Tillison_George on February 28, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @cemper #Google

  20. @fpicq on March 1, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @cemper

  21. @_frank_the_tank on March 1, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @cemper

  22. @itxavel on March 1, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    RT @LauraSeoSM: Hugo Boss pierde 39% de visibilidad #SEO tras hacer linkbuilding con red alemana (vía @jordiobdotcom…

  23. @giorgiotave on March 2, 2014 at 9:54 am

    RT @LisaGuerrini: #Google #SEO #Penalty for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis

  24. @Valentina_85 on March 2, 2014 at 10:57 am

    #SEO e penalizzazioni. C’e’ sempre qualcosa da imparare…

  25. @aledesignit on March 2, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @cemper

  26. @antallarico on March 2, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Case study sul sito tedesco di HugoBoss che penalizzato da google perde il 39% causa bad links

  27. @peppecarambola on March 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    RT @LisaGuerrini: #Google #SEO #Penalty for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis

  28. @Aekateryna on March 2, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @cemper

  29. @Kevin_Indig on March 4, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    No wonder Hugo Boss was penalized.. via @cemper… Totally justified for this quality and obviousness

  30. @steffensandner on March 5, 2014 at 6:15 am

    RT @republicprde: Der beste SEO-Lesestoff der letzten Tage: #linkanalyse #linknetzwerk #offpage

  31. Marc on March 6, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Nice review and tedious work :)). So apparently all the links are down because the agency was using too many links on not enough sites with the same servers, if I’m correct. So my question would be, is there a size from which Google cannot detect that this is a link network ? If there is, let’s say, 100 different servers each hosting no more than 4 sites carefully linked, that would be 400 sites. IF it’s done with some intelligence, would it be enough to prevent Google from seeing that it’s a link network ? It could be feasible from an economic point of view, after all many hosting start at a few dollars a month ? Not sure if it’s worth the trouble but after reading some blackhat SEO forums, some people seem to be ready to do everything to get good SERPS…

    • Christian Müller on March 7, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Hi Marc,

      as soon as a manual review takes place, all the cheap network spam is over. What I did in this analysis, was only one of many ways to detect link networks. Expect Google to have much more advanced technical infrastructure and experience needed to find common patterns in your link network – even if you put all your blogs on different class c and nameservers. These tactics are known to Google for ages.

      While you can put in some effort (money) and try to fool the automatic detection to a certain degree, you will have a hard time maintaining a juicy 400 sites or even bigger network over time, without being called out by angry competitors with spam reports at one point.

      There is no way to utilize a link network like that without leaving a trace and without annoying people. It’s all about time.

      If it fits your calculation and you don’t care for the target site to have a good reputation on Google, it might still be a feasible way in economic terms.

      I’ve done a lot of linking like that for my affiliate sites a few years ago and wouldn’t recomment it any more.

      Hope this helps!

  32. @MBSeoService on March 6, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @cemper

  33. @LordManley on March 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    RT @beyondcontent: @JamesGurd HugoBoss loses 39% search visibility overnight due to Google Penalty – case study ther…

  34. @babblestorm on March 10, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    HugoBoss loses 39% search visibility overnight due to Google Penalty

  35. @JamesGurd on March 11, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Interesting #SEO read (via @beyondcontent) German link network crack down hurts

  36. @amy_edwards88 on March 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Sharp drop for and other brands – German link network crack down analysis via @cemper

  37. Daniel on March 14, 2014 at 8:06 am


    I need you analye my website..
    I have little problem with backlinks

    Can you do it if I have a lots of external duplicate content ?

    How much will i must pay ?

    Thany you very much

  38. Patrice on June 23, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I’m very happy that big companies get framed too, because we never hear of small businesses who usually just get penalized for like what 5-10 links.. Google should reall have some bigger tolerance on small businesses, i had a case where only 1 link was suspicious, we got it removed and penalty was lifted !

  39. @katty_dobre on March 7, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    German link network crack down hurts huge Fashion Brand via @LnkResearchTool

  40. @linkmyseoworld on March 8, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Another major Brand that didn’t really do (link) risk management #SEO

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