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Penguin Punishes Health Site for Unhealthy Backlinks: A Case Study

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OrganizedWisdom Google Penguin 2.0 Penalty

Sloppy SEO and Redirect Spam – Poor Bill of Health

SEO tactics change over time. When they do, a wise site owner reviews what they’ve done and corrects any tactics that now run afoul of Google’s guidelines.

OrganizedWisdom did a lot of low quality, spammy linkbuilding, and it hurt them. However, what hurt them more was thinking they cleaned up all their bad links. Many more damaging links remained after their initial clean-up.

Only through using our link detox tools can a webmaster or SEO really know what links they have and which ones are attracting a Google penalty.

In this intriguing case study, our latest certified LRT Professional, Irving Weiss, dives deep into the backlink profile of OrganizedWisdom.com and finds many missed toxic backlinks and spammy tactics that need to be corrected. This could easily be said of most sites on the web.

Enjoy & Learn

Christoph C. Cemper

Bonus: You can download a PDF version for Easy Offline Reading. Get it FOR A TWEET HERE

 

Table of contents

 

Introduction

To best understand OrganizedWisdom, I am going to share the description that OrganizedWisdom themselves uses, “OrganizedWisdom Health is the first human-powered, doctor-guided search service for health. The site provides hand-crafted search result pages called Wisdom Cards, for the most popular health search terms and phrases without the clutter, redundant links or index spam typically found in search engines. OrganizedWisdom helped ignite the Health 2.0 revolution with several firsts including the first company to assemble a team of health guides and physicians to organize the world’s best health wisdom from across the Web. Today, OrganizedWisdom continues to bring innovation to online health care by leveraging social media and the power of collaboration technologies to improve the quality of health search.”

I don’t know if they improved the quality of health search but I can say with confidence that the health of a site is based on the quality of your backlinks. We are going to see in this case study if Google finds their backlinks to be of quality. Here is a screenshot of the OrganizedWisdom home page.

OrganizedWisdom Home Page

Site Traffic

OrganizedWisdom is quantified by Quantcast, which means that they installed the Quantcast beacon on every page of their site. The Quantcast traffic graph is very reliable in this scenario.

Quantcast Traffic Graph

Penguin 1.0 and 1.1 were rolled out in April 2012 and May 2012. It is exactly this time frame where we can see OrganizedWisdom took their first traffic drop on this chart. Their big demise however, was in May 2013 with the release of Penguin 2.0. Sites who got penalized by Penguin 2.0 realized that 2.0 went deeper into your historical past and could even penalize for link sins committed many years ago.

Quick Domain Compare (QDC)

A favorite starting point by LRT professionals is the Quick Domain Compare (QDC) report, as it will quickly report several vital basic link metrics for your site. You can add a maximum of four competitors to compare against. I had a difficult time settling on the direct competitors to OrganizedWisdom, as this site does offer a unique service with their health wisdom cards. I chose sites that ranked highly for health advice and health experts and had similar health related content.

03-QDC-Report

Even with this limited report, we can already spot a serious infraction. The differential of two bars between Cemper Power and Cemper Trust is always indicative that the external links are in untrustworthy spots on otherwise trusted sites. As we can see in the grid below, these are the exact types of backlinks to avoid, remove and disavow. These links are usually an indicator of comment spam and article spam. It is possible Google despises these links more than spam links coming from spam sites as these links clearly show an active role in backlinks. Many of the case studies from the LRT professionals had at least two trust bars less than their power bars.

Link Type Grid

We can also see on the report that OrganizedWisdom does not have as many backlinks as their competitors. Even if they were to get their penalties lifted, they must provide link worthy content or they will not be able to keep pace with their competition. We will look at link velocity later on. We can also see in this report that their sitewide ratio seems healthy relative to their competition.

Hypothesis

I can already surmise that OrganizedWisdom was a victim of Penguin based on their traffic pattern and their power trust score. It would seem like they were actively involved in comment or article spam. We will determine what kind of link spam they employed and if they are making any progress in removing bad links. The competitive link velocity tool (CLV) is going to provide a good history of their link building and removal efforts.

Competitive Link Velocity Results

The CLV report compares the development of your link profile. I added a few more competitors to the mix and chose to analyze the last 24 months of their link growth.

CLV Report Setup

This report does not take long to generate and the report data is comprehensive and designed in a simple to read format. The first report shown is the All Linking Pages report, and it presents their linking velocity relative to their major competitors.

CLV All Linking Report

Dark green signifies intense linking activity relative to the competition. The lightest shade of green signifies light link building efforts. Starting from November, it appears that they stopped their link building efforts or they stopped getting natural backlinks. Google will take into consideration their link velocity of quality links and it does not appear that they are keeping pace with themselves or the competition. Let’s check to see if they have done any serious link cleansing. This can be checked with the deleted links report.

CLV Deleted Link Report

Now we can see that OrganizedWisdom has been trying to remove a lot of links in the first half of 2012 and the first half of 2013. Starting in August it would appear they stopped link building. Did they clean up all their bad links? Why didn’t their traffic return after they cleaned up shop? We will investigate their link profile in detail using the Link Detox and BLP tools.

Link Detox Analysis

The best tool to analyze links is the Link Detox Tool. This tool will also give us a Link Detox Score that will help us better understand our link removal efforts. Before running Link Detox, go to the Settings tab in the top navigation and add all the services that you currently have accounts. This is an excellent new feature of LRT and saves us the burden of preparing our own external URL list to upload. I have accounts with SEMRush and SEOmoz and I connected to both of those accounts. I do not have access to the OrganizedWisdom Webmaster account.

External API Key Setup

If you already have a disavow file that you uploaded to Google, you should upload it in the settings section as well. I do not have access to the OrganizedWisdom disavow file. We are ready to run Link Detox.

Link Detox Setup

Some things I want to note about the settings. Even though it costs an extra credit, to get the most comprehensive result, I selected the box to check the www and non-www versions of the website. I am keeping the sitewide link settings set at 5, because more than that can skew the results and search engines are likely to ignore or discount excessive sitewide links.

Link Detox Scores

The Link Detox report may take some time especially if there are a lot of links to analyze. The initial detox score many times is quite high before keyword classification.

Initial Link Detox Score

The red zone is a dangerous place to be.

Link Detox Risk Ratings Levels

Keyword classification can have a positive impact on the Link Detox score. It is recommended to classify at least 80 % of your keywords and 100% classification for the most accurate results. I will classify 100% for this case study. If you classified more than 80% of the keywords, you will get the following message.

Reprocess Dtox

After classifying 100%, I chose to reprocess which comes at a no credit cost. LRT is being courteous by allowing reprocessing at no charge.

Link Detox Score Post Classification

Our new score is much lower and now it would appear we are in safer territory nestled in the middle of the moderate zone. Not too shabby. However, this does not mean that there are no issues. It is strange for the score to go down this much after classification. OrganizedWisdom may have crafty anchor tests that they fall below the radar on this risk score. Let’s take a closer look at the link types.

Link Types and Detox Rules

Link Detox Link Types

This breakdown does not look too good at all. Only 5% of their links are deemed healthy. Let’s see which of the Detox Rules all these suspect and toxic links are associated with.

Link Detox Rules Breakdown

SUSP1 are pages without Cemper Power or Trust scores and have no external links to them. This is not surprising to see SUSP1 as the biggest offender and it’s very typical to see this rule as the most violated. I am more concerned at SUSP31 at nearly 9%. This rule refers to suspect anchor text placements. Other concerns are SUSP7, SUSP23 and SUSP22 which are a combined 21.4% and they refer backlinks on link networks.

We will get back to Link Detox to analyze the links individually. Before doing so, I would like to get a clearer picture of how OrganizedWisdom is compared to their competitors in their link metrics. QDC allowed us to run a quick report with four competitors, the CLA tool allows up to ten competitors. I found eight sites which I believe can be considered direct competitors.

Competitive Landscape Analyzer (CLA)

The Competitive Landscape Analyzer compares any site to its competition based on a quick or detailed link metrics analysis. To get the most comprehensive analysis, you need to run the report in detailed mode and carefully select the metrics you want to track. The credits can quickly rack up depending on number of competitors and metrics chosen. I chose the Link Status, Anchor Text, Link Position, Link Type, Number of linking domains to domain, Cemper Power Trust, Deep Link Ratio, and Hosting Ip address country code. These metrics will give me a clear understanding if OrganizedWisdom is doing something out of the ordinary with their link building. Put thought into which metrics you choose, as rerunning this extensive report can cost significant credits.

CLA Setup

The first report available is the Power Trust chart.

CLA Power Trust Chart

OrganizedWisdom continues to have the greatest differential in Cemper Power and Trust bars. It also has the least amount of referring root domains. It’s a double whammy. Let’s dive right into the comparison metrics reports. The first metric report is the power trust comparison metric and we know from the chart above that this won’t look too good for OrganizedWisdom.

Power Trust Metric Comparison

CLA Cemper Power Trust Comparison

Before I proceed, I must point out that LRT makes it so simple to grab many of these reports into a image with the export to PNG link. This looks bad for OrganizedWisdom when looking at this report. 99% of their links have a power trust of 3 or less. The only other site that comes close to this is Healthprofs with 89% of their links with a power trust 3 or less. We are going to dive deeper into some of their links, but first let’s look at some other key CLA metrics. The link status report will show how the compare on the metrics on follow and no-follow links.

Link Status Metric Comparison

CLA Link Status Comaprison

OrganizedWisdom has an extraordinary percentage of redirects and they are well below average in their percentage of follow links. We will investigate these redirects but first let’s see how this impacts the link type metric.

Link Type Metric Comparison

CLA Link Type Comparison

This is the same issue. As a result of their massive amount of redirects, it is skewing the link type percentage chart. Before we look at more metrics, let’s check what these redirects are all about. To see the redirect link, click on the link status report.

Redirects

BLP Link Status Pie

Select redirect and all the redirect links will be shown below to analyze individually.

BLP Redirect Links

Almost all their redirect domains have zero backlinks and for good reason, they never existed. I don’t like redirecting random URL’s into your domain. Where is there value in redirecting backpainwisdom.com and asthmawisdom.com to organizedwidom.com. It is better to keep them parked.

Redirect Deep Dive

Let’s take a closer look at some of the top redirects with significant backlinks. The first one on the list is www.organizedwisdom.net. If we click on the plus sign, we can see more details about the exact nature of the backlink.

OrganizedWisdom.Net Redirect

If you are going to redirect, do it with a single 301 redirect thereby limiting the amount of page rank leakage. Let’s analyze OrganizedWisdom.net backlinks and see if this site is worthy of redirecting. I am clicking on the Start BLP link shown above. With all the crosslinks between the tools, LRT makes analyzing so easy.

OrganizedWisdom.net BLP

All the OrganizedWisdom.net links are valueless and are coming from a single sitewide blogroll link on Qxwf.com. This redirect can only hurt them. Let’s check out another one of the redirects, wisdomblog.com

WisdomBlog.com Redirect

A shocking discovery. This time we got a double 302 redirect. This is about as ugly as redirects get. The home page http://www.organizedwisdom.com is a 302 redirect to http://www.organizedwisdom.com/Home. HUH? Who does that? 302 redirects are for temporary use only.

WisdomBlog.com BLP

The backlink profile of WisdomBlog.com does not have value and even changing the link from a 302 to a 301, wouldn’t help them in any way. I find it a little sad that four of these redirect backlinks are from one of their cofounder’s blog, StevenKrein.com.

StevenKrein.com

They need to clean to up their redirects and it is possible that they are just makings things worse for themselves. Let’s move on and look at some more of the BLP reports.

Additional BLP Metrics

Deeplink Ratio Metric Comparison

CLA Deeplink Ratio Comparison

Their links to deeper pages are a much greater percentage than the competition and the reverse is true with links to the home page. While we can’t say this is an issue just yet, it’s never good to stand out and call attention to your backlink profile. One final metric I want to share from CLA is the keyword metric.

Keyword Metric Comparison

CLA Keyword Comparison

Brand links are good, but they stand out with a high percentage of brand keywords and a small percentage of money keywords. It is not good to stand out. Google will not get fooled with spam links even if they are brand keywords. We are going to dive a little deeper into the keywords with the BLP tool.

Backlink Profiler Report

The BLP tool will provide analysis on the link status of each link and help determine the quality of each backlink. Since there is only a cost in time and not credits, I chose all the metrics available.

BLP Report

Link Position and Link Location Reports

There are two reports in BLP that help us get a clear understanding of the backlinks placements. The first is Link Position by Percent.

BLP Link Position by Percent

The Link Position in percent determines the relative link position with the total number of links of a page. The value is expressed in percentage, e.g. a link with LinkPosPct 90% can more likely be found at the end of a page. The links for OrganizedWisdom have a healthy mix of link positions. The other report to measure link placement is the Link Location report. This report calculates to percentages of the link positions (Header, Footer, Content, Comment, Link List, and many more).

BLP Link Location

The link location report also checks out fine. I don’t sense any red signals in their link placements. It’s time for us to get our head in the clouds, the keyword clouds that is. The cloud has four visuals, keyword count, by PowerTrust, by Power and by Trust. I expect the brand keywords to be accentuated in the cloud based on their percentage we saw in the CLA report.

Keyword Clouds

BLP Keyword Cloud

No surprise seeing the brand anchor all over the cloud. I am also seeing the name Unity Stoakes stick out in the cloud. We will analyze this soon. We can easily check to see if the brand terms are the bad links. LRT makes this easy to determine, just click on the bad links filter to see the keyword cloud exclusively populated with keywords from bad links.

BLP Bad Links Filter Cloud

The bad link cloud is a larger mix of anchor text. I want to analyze one keyword highlighted in the cloud, Unity Stoakes. It just seems like it doesn’t belong with the other brand or health related keywords.

Unity Stoakes Keyword

Clicking on the Unity Stoakes keyword in the cloud will allow us to analyze the individual links. We will check a few links.

Unity Stoakes Backlinks

Who is Unity Stoakes and why so many anchor text links? I found the LinkedIn Profile for Unity Stoakes.

Unity Stoakes LinkedIn Profile

We know now that Unity Stoakes and Steven Krein are the co-founders. Let’s take a closer look at some of the anchor texts with the co-founders name with a backlink to OrganizedWisdom.

http://www.health2con.com/news/2008/01/10/whats-in-store/

Unity Stoakes Backlink Health2Con

http://www.healthblawg.com/2008/11/health-20-roundtable-webcast-on-read-write-web.html

Unity Stoakes Backlink HealthBlawg

These two links are signature spam. There is no valid reason to have the Unity Stoakes name link to the OrganizedWisdom website. I would imagine that these were set manually and they can fix and remove these backlinks.

IP Popularity Check

Another important check is the backlink IP Popularity report. It is common for IP addresses to be shared by sites in blog networks like Typead and Blogspot. I will check a few of the IP’s on top of the list to see if there any link networks.

IP Popularity BL

The IP address I decided to analyze was 173.194.65.121 due to the diversity of sites shared on this IP.

IP 173.194.65.121 Backlinks

Let’s check a couple of them.

http://start.pinoyhack.com/2006/11/sharing-piece-of-health-wisdom.html

Pinoy Hack Backlink

http://www.3stairs.com/2006/10/straightening-out-your-symptoms.html

3Stairs Backlink

Yada Yada is right. This is nonsensical comment spam. A perfect example of non-money keyword comment spam. They have quite a few of these blog posts with this exact anchor text, “help others by sharing 1 piece of health wisdom at OrganizedWisdom.com”. These also looked like they were manually added and should be manually removed.

Link Detox Screener

Let’s move on to the toxic and suspect links. You can analyze the individual links in BLP or LCT, but I prefer using LCT for the Toxic links analysis. The safest way to analyze dangerous links is with the Link Detox Screener tool. Link Detox Screener allows to safely see the page and shows which URL it links to without actually going to that site. How safe is that? Very! Dtox Screener also shows the Anchor Text, Link Status and which Link Detox rules are applicable to the link being analyzed. How cool is that? Very!

Link Detox Link Summary

I selected “Show me these links” on the Toxic links.

Link Detox Screener Button

I am selecting to safely review the links in Link Detox Screener. The very first one is from

http://2a.howlandhealthconsulting.com/

Howland Health Consulting Backlink

This is a whole smorgasbord of link violations. Awards should not be distributed to spam sites. That should be a requirement in the awards distribution program. Let’s check another toxic backlink.

http://awww.happynews.com/living/children/signs-children-diabetes.htm

HappyNews Backlink

A typical spam link in a list of resource links. I am curious where this forum link goes to on OrganizedWisdom. As part of the safety feature, Link Screener does not let you click on links and I went outside of the tool to click on the link. The link takes me to the following page on OrganizedWisdom

http://www.organizedwisdom.com/helpbar/index.html?return=http://organizedwisdom.com/Forums_For_Parents_of_Children_With_Diabetes&url=www.justmommies.com/boards/index.php?showforum=130

OrganizedWisdom Iframe

This is an iframe of the JustMommies forum. Why is the link going to OrganizedWisdom and not JustMommies. This is a bad link in all aspects. Some sites are not so discernible at first glance that they are spam sites and you will need to investigate the LRT claims. It’s our responsibility to always investigate before adding links and domains to the disavow file. That being said, LRT is usually right on target. You can also be a good helper by selecting the thumbs up or thumbs down as you scroll through the links. I will thumbs down this particular site.

Link Screen Thumbs

Let’s just check one more backlink before we reach our conclusion.

http://ns.silivingwater.com/Psoriasis/

LivingWater Backlink

Oy vey! Five money keywords with backlinks to OrganizedWisdom. Some of the anchor texts are; skin, burns and psoriasis. Let’s click on Burns and see where this link takes us to on the OrganizedWisdom site.

http://www.organizedwisdom.com/Burns/wt/med

OrganizedWisdom Burns Page

Oy vey again! This page is a list of external links with no content. Even if this backlink would provide come from a quality site, it shouldn’t be linked to low quality pages.

Conclusion

It is clear that OrganizedWisdom was involved in intense link building quite a few years back. It does not appear that they bought links or were involved in link farms. Rather, they spent much time going to low quality health forums and blogs where they included links back to their site in the article content or comments. They already had removed many suspect links, but there are still many remaining.

The good news for them is that most of the links can be removed completely. The remaining links should be added to their disavow file. It is a must that they start obtaining healthy links, as their number of referring domains and link velocity is well below the competition. They should work with a PR agency who can help them can get in the news and they need to figure out how people will want to link to the site naturally. There is no excuse for sloppy redirects, low quality pages and other site violations. To avoid any Panda violations, I would recommend a thorough SEO audit performed on their site.

This case study was written by Irving Weiss, SEO Director of Vitals.com, and proud user of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox.

A word from Christoph C. Cemper

Certified LRT ProfessionalThis analysis was conducted and post written by our new Certified LRT Professional, Irving Weiss.

Irving demonstrated his expertise in doing a deep analysis on why OrganizedWisdom suffered a drastic loss of organic traffic. 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 Irving Weiss 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 Irving Weiss whenever you get the opportunity!

Certified LRT Professional Irving Weiss

This analysis was created using our Superhero Plan and the new Competitive Link Detox tool extensively. The Superhero plan allows you to perform professional SEO and backlink analysis for your own or your competitor’s sites. If you only need Competitive Link Detox (CDTOX), that’s also included in all new Link Detox Pro plans and up.

Don’t miss our next FREE LRT Associate Training. Get one of the last spots if you’re up for 8 hours of free professional training with Christoph C. Cemper.

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Irving Weiss

Irving Weiss

SEO Director at Vitals.com

Irving Weiss hails from New York City and started his career as the network administrator for the Touro Law Center. He was then employed by Verizon and IBM with the responsibility of optimizing Web applications. Six years ago, he joined a start-up, Vitals.com, a site that provides reviews and data on doctors, as the SEO Director.

Irving Weiss

Irving Weiss

Irving Weiss

Latest posts by Irving Weiss

9 Comments

  1. Rick Lomas April 5, 2014

    Irvine, this was a great case study. I especially loved the Power*Trust Metric Comparison part. The Unity Stoakes bit was fun to. I’m really into enabling the extra metrics in BLP like ‘Domain Registration Details’ and ‘Domain Expiry & Registrar details’ to reveal a bit more dirt on people who are totally careless in covering their tracks. Congratulations on the CLRTP, it’s a lovely place to be.

    reply
  2. Matteo April 4, 2014

    Irving very good analysis.
    I have a question: when you analyze deleted links through Competitive Link Velocity Results, does the report count only removed links or also disavowed links?
    I’m asking because I’m trying to recover a website since april 2013, but 90% of links are impossible to delete, the only option I have is disavow.

    Thanks in advance.

    Matteo

    reply
    • Irving Weiss April 4, 2014

      Thanks for the compliment. Deleted means actual deletion of links and does not include links that were only disavowed. I have been suggesting recently to block the entire spam domains in the disavow file. However, if you want to use Link Boost utility effectively, than you will need to point to the actual URL’s with the spam backlinks. The BLP tool can show details about the deleted links.

      reply
  3. @cemper April 3, 2014

    RT @ErikKielisch: Penguin Punishes Health Site for Unhealthy Backlinks: A Case Study http://t.co/FQnriyclWz via @cemper

    reply
  4. @ErikKielisch April 3, 2014

    Penguin Punishes Health Site for Unhealthy Backlinks: A Case Study http://t.co/FQnriyclWz via @cemper

    reply
  5. Matthew Tragna April 2, 2014

    This was a really informative read. Quick question, if anchor texts with the co-founders name “Unity Stoakes” are used wouldn’t that be considered somewhat harmless since the site is not targeting that keyword phrase? Since it’s not a big money term it’s no big deal if that term gets suppressed in Googles SERPs – even if it did rank by chance I would think. So the link passes PR on a term that is not important to rank for regardless.

    Thanks, great job on the case study – OW got some free professional SEO advice! – Matt

    reply
    • Irving Weiss April 2, 2014

      Matt – Thanks for the compliment. You make a great point. However, any anchor text link must correlate with the page that is linked to. In the examples provided, there is no correlation to link their home page with the anchor text of the co-founders name. It can make sense to create a profile page on your site and link to your profile with your name as the anchor text. Money keywords represent a separate issue as Google tries to determine if the link was only inserted to have a link with that exact anchor text. This is why brand links are usually the safer route, but even those are abused. The bottom line is that all backlinks have their anchor text evaluated to make sure it appears completely natural.

      reply
  6. @LGoergey April 2, 2014

    Penguin Punishes Health Site for Unhealthy Backlinks: A Case Study http://t.co/8IlXHDk8W6 via @cemper

    reply
  7. @seonational April 2, 2014

    Penguin Punishes Health Site for Unhealthy Backlinks: A Case Study – http://t.co/6YEsQ8oyKc

    reply

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