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Penguin 2.0 hit hard. And there is more to come.
@bestonline there will certainly be more Penguin to come.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 25, 2013
This is true for us as well. As promised during Penguin 2.0 launch and the previous Penguin 2.0 Deep Dive here is the next detailled look into a Penguin 2.0 victim. We will look at CheapoAir.com and many details of their backlink profile, just like any good SEO consultant would do.
This research will look into Advertorials, Sneaky Redirects, Sitewide Links, Weak Links, Offtopic Links, Penalited Link Selling Networks and so much more.
There's a lot to learn in here, and I'm psyched to present you the next case-study only a few days after Penguin 2.0 hit the world, globally.
Christoph C. Cemper
Protect your online business from the real-time Google Penguin!
In this case study we will analyze why Penguin 2.0 hit CheapoAir.com
Some things we will look at:
- Drops of Cheapoair.com that really hurt
- Sharp Drop for “Cheap Flights”
- Sharp Drop for “Cheap Tickets”
- Sharp Drop for “Flights”
- Sharp Drop for “Cheap Airline Tickets”
- Sharp Drop for “Cheap Hotel”
- Sharp Drop for “Plane Tickets”
- Possible Reasons Cheapoair.com dropped
- a.) Are too many links with exact match anchor they reason for the drop?
- b.) Did too many sitewide links caused the drop?
- c.) Are too many weak links the reason for the decline?
- d.) Are too many links from own company networks the factor for the drop?
- e.) Are too many links from de-indexed websites the reason for the fall?
- f.) Did malware links cause a drop?
- g.) Are offtopic links the root cause for this Penguin 2.0 drop?
- h.) Did Advertorial Links cause a Penguin 2.0 penalty?
- i.) Are “naturally” automated links the cause?
- j.) Homepage Redirects as cause for the Penguin 2.0 Penalty?
- k.) Unnatural Link Velocity causing this Penguin 2.0 Penalty?
- Conclusion of this Penguin 2.0 deep dive for cheapoair.com
On May 23 2013, Markus Tober from Searchmetrics published the first Penguin 2.0 loser. As u can see, cheapoair.com lost about 28% after the update was rolled out on May 22.
In this list u can see the top losers after the Penguin 2.0. update:
Looking at Searchmetric’s SEO Visibility, we notice a MASSIVE drop after the Penguin 2.0 release.
Drops of Cheapoair.com that really hurt
So which important keyword rankings did cheapoair.com lose to fall that deep in SEO Visibility?
Let’s look at some keywords with high search volume in detail:
Sharp Drop for “Cheap Flights”
Sharp Drop for “Cheap Tickets”
Sharp Drop for “Cheap Flights”
Sharp Drop for “Cheap Airline Tickets”
Sharp Drop for “Cheap Hotel”
Sharp Drop for “Plane Tickets”
Did cheapoair.com only lose some good rankings or lots of traffic as well?
As we do not have access to their analytics data we don’t really know for sure – but looking at the following screenshot that will answer the question:
The blue line displays the SEO Visibility, the green one reports the Paid Visibility (Adwords).
It is logical to assume that cheapoair.com increased its spending on Google Adwords after their loss in rankings in order to get some traffic back.
Let’s dive deeper into it and find the reasons why cheapoair.com was hit so hard.
From what we know by now, the following reasons could have been the triggers. Let’s look at each one in detail and see how you can dive deep into every detail below the iceberg 🙂
Possible Reasons Cheapoair.com dropped
Possible reasons why cheapoair.com has been hit by Penguin 2.0:
- a.) too many links with exact match anchor text
- b.) too many sitewide links
- c.) too many weak links
- d.) too many links from own company networks
- e.) too many links from de-indexed / penalized websites
- f.) lots of links from malware infected websites
- g.) too many links from non-related off-topic websites
- h.) too many advertorial links that pass link juice
- i.) “natural” link growth by automated set and forget linkbuilding tools
- j.) sneaky re-directs
- k.) unnatural link growth
a.) Are too many links with exact match anchor they reason for the drop?
Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many links with exact match anchor text?
Let’s look at the 3 keywords with the highest search volume in more detail:
Keyword: cheap flights
search volume: 1,241,66
position before Penguin 2.0: 8
position after Penguin 2.0: 11
Now we will use the LinkResearchTools to analyze the anchor text ratios.
For this task we will use the Quick Backlinks Tool (QBL). This tool provides you with a very quick list of top backlinks plus some basic SEO metrics for a domain or page.
Step 1: Enter the Domain you’d like to analyze and activate the sitewide links filter (we don’t want our results skewed for now):
Step 2: Go to the anchor text tab and sort by count:
(we want to find out absolute numbers, old-style, although that doesn’t mean the most links helped most, this view shows us what the SEO tried to target)
The graph above shows us that cheapoair.com has 266 links with the exact match anchor text “cheap flights” (2,7%).
Is this ratio already too high after the Penguin 2.0 update?
Well, there is no general answer for this question. In order to answer this question we have to look at some competitors and their link profiles.
To find out if 2,7% exact match for the anchor text “cheap flights” is already too much for this particular industry, we will start the LRT Competitive Landscape Analyzer (CLA).
The Competitive Landscape Analyzer compares any site to its competition for any keyword you want based on a number of metrics you select.
Step 3: Enter your URL into the first box and then find up to 10 competitors either manually or by hitting the “Find Competing Pages” as below.
Type in the keyword you’d like to compete with the Top10. Also select the particular search engine, country and language.
Now the CLA fetches the Top10 ranking sites in google.com and displays their URLs to compare. You can choose between analyzing Domain Backlinks, Page Backlinks or Subfolder Backlinks. As we want to dive deep we are going to analyze the Domain Backlinks. We’re also going to use the “Link Boost” function that will allow us to analyze up to 12,500 strongest links instead of 2,500.
Before we start our report, we also have to activate the sitewide link filter in order to skip sitewide links after 5 links found per domain. This would skew our results too much.
Step 4: Remember: We are using the Competitive Landscape Analyzer (CLA) to find out, if cheapoair.com has already too many exact match links with the anchor text “cheap flights” in its link profile (2,7%.).
To find this out, the first thing we have to do is to classify all keywords within the following keyword types:
- a) Brand Keywords (brand name, URL)
- b) Compound Keywords (a mix of Brand and Money Keywords)
- c) Money Keywords (These are the keywords people usually want to rank for e.g. “cheap flights”)
- d) Other Keywords (All keywords that don’t fit in the above categories e.g. “find here”, “click here”)
More about keyword classifications and other examples can be found here.
Note: to get a representative and meaningful output you have to classify at least 90% of your keywords.
Step 5: In the next step we will move to the keywords tab and look at the results of our keyword classification process. As we can see on the chart, cheapoair.com has 66% Money Keywords while the total average of the other 10 competitors at only 29%. This is twice as much as the competitors have, and doesn’t look like “blending in”, does it?
Also if we look at the brand bar and the compound bar we can see that cheapoair.com has a very unnatural link profile compared to their competitors!
This report shows a link profile comparison of cheapoair.com against the Top10 websites ranking for the keyword "cheap flights" on Google.com
We did further link profile comparisons for 3 more important keywords of cheapoair.com in order to get a better understanding of its link profile.
The workflow for the other keywords is the same as described above. Many keywords were already classified, but of course new variations could pop up, obviously.
These are the results for the keywords “cheap tickets”, “cheap airline tickets” and “airline tickets”.
Keyword: “cheap tickets”
Brand vs. Money Keyword distribution for “Cheap Tickets” on Cheapoair.com
Keyword: “cheap airline tickets”
Brand vs. Money Keyword distribution for “Cheap Airline Tickets” on Cheapoair.com
Keyword: “cheap flights”
Brand vs. Money Keyword distribution for “Cheap Flights” on Cheapoair.com
Is this really overdone exact match anchortext the reason why cheapoair.com was hit by Penguin 2.0?
Well, I think this is not the only reason but it is part of it I suggest - so let’s dig deeper into it.
b.) Did too many site wide links cause the drop?
Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many sitewide links?
Let’s find out!
Step 1: For this task we have to start the Quick Domain Compare Tool (QDC)
Step 2: After a few seconds we get a nice comparison chart:
To get the average amount of sitewide links/ domain, we have to divide “Backlinks to Domain” by “Domain Popularity”.
The easiest way to get the average amount of sitewide links is to use the Bulk URL Analyzer (Juice Tool)) and select the SWR (Sitewide Ratio) metric, that you have in other tools like BLP and CLA as well.
Step 1: Switch to “Detail Analysis” Mode, enter the domains you’d like to analyze, activate the “Link Ratio Metric” and run the report:
The result page shows you the sitewide ratios of all domains in question:
Here are the sitewide link ratios in detail:
Side-Wide Links: ~ 79 links/ domain
Side-Wide Links: ~ 56 links/ domain
Side-Wide Links: ~ 170 links/ domain
Side-Wide Links: ~ 84 links/ domain
And our candidate
Side-Wide Links: ~ 38 links/ domain
All competitors of cheapoair.com have a very high ratio of sidewide links. Cheapoair.com has a comparatively small sitewide-ratio. Therefore, having too many sitewide links doesn’t seem to the reason for the Penguin 2.0 hit in this case.
It is important to mention that these values are just an average. Much more important than the ratio of a domain’s sitewide links is their quality. We will look at that a bit later…
c.) Are too many weak links the reason for the decline?
Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many weak links?
As we know, a link is not just a link: you need links which have power and trust to stay on top. So maybe they have too weak or untrusted links?
Let’s check it out!
Step1: If you want to get a quick overview of Power and Trust across the whole domain you can check out these three columns from the QDC report you’ve just created.
Again, as in the first case study Christoph released about the Penguin 2.0 victim www.home24.de (see http://www.linkresearchtools.com/case-studies/penguin-2-0-penalty-home24-de/) also in the case of cheapoair.com the power is WAY higher than the trust!
Step 2: To dive deeper into that topic we can use the CLA report we created before to look at the keyword metrics and the Power*Trust signals.
Again, it is essential to do this for each keyword! So once again, let’s look at our looser keywords and check out if Penguin 2.0 hit this website because they have weak links!
Keyword: cheap flights
Keyword: cheap tickets
Keyword: cheap airline tickets
As you see in this charts the Power*Trust spread looks very unnatural / but remember as we did the CLA we also did set a sitewide filter – maybe that is the reason.
So lets measure the quality of all Inbound links including’ all sitewide links, let’s start again the Competitive Landscape Analyzer:
Step 1: As we did before, let’s start the CLA in “Quick Analysis” and find the competing websites.
Step 2: As we’d like to find out more about the quality of the sitewide links, this time we do NOT tick the sitewide links filter:
Step 3: Because we didn’t select the sitewide links filter this time, there would be more keywords to categorize in total. But because we’ve already categorized a certain amount of keywords for these particular domains within our last report, we don’t have to classify the same words again.
After classifying, we receive the following results:
Keyword: cheap flights
Keyword: cheap tickets
Keyword: cheap airline tickets
To find out about the quality of a domain’s sitewide links, we have to compare the Power*Trust ratio of a link profile including sitewide links to a link profile excluding sitewide links. As you are going to see by comparing the above results with the findings of our next chapter, cheapoair.com has some strong sitewide links (e.g. the rate of Power*Trust 8 – 12 links for the keyword “cheap airline ticket” INCLUDING SWR stays at 67%, without SWRs the rate stays at 36%)
So did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many weak links?
In this case I would say NO if you compare it with the other top ranking sites.
Although cheapoair.com hasn’t got more weak links than its competitors, I would suggest it has too many strong links!
This link profile seems unnatural, it literally sticks out like a red flag compared to the others.
The Link profile looks very unnatural! So as you can see, it looks like even lots of strong links can influence your link profile in a negative way if your link profile differs heavily from your competitor’s link profiles.
d.) Are too many links from own company networks the factor for the drop?
Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many links from own company networks?
To be specific: Do they have many big multi-national company websites from their major brand Monster.com (e.g. www.monster.at, www.monster.com, www.monster.de ) that are all linking to each other out of the footer?
Step 1: To solve this task we pick the Top10 competitors for the keyword “cheap flights”. This list was created with the CLA tool.
Step 2: To find out if the websites are having footer links which are internally linking to each other, we have to visit each URL and check it manually.
These are the results for the TOP10 websites ranking for the keyword “cheap flights”:
internal footer links: YES
internal footer links: YES
internal footer links: YES
internal footer links: different
That used to be a way to avoid passing link juice, a method somethings referred to as “Pagerank Sculpting” and definitely something that some shady sites do sometimes for a lot other reasons. Did Google object this?
On top of that they have a language dropdown for all sites with FOLLOW links
Cheapoair.com has got internal footer links, but less than its competitors. Therefore I would say NO, cheapoair.com didn’t get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many links from own company networks.
The question arose because of the consideration that Google maybe sees company network linking as a form of link network and therefore devalues some link power.
Until now, it seems that cheapoair.com was hit by Penguin 2.0 because it has built far more money keywords than its competitors and although they have some good and strong backlinks, their distribution seems very unnatural.
e.) Are too many links from de-indexed websites the reason for the fall?
Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many links from de-indexed websites?
With the Penguin Launch in April 2012 Google started de-listing link networks heavily. From that moment, Google heavily continued to unmask and de-index link networks.
So if you have lots of backlinks from de-indexed websites you could be in trouble!
But how can you find out if you have de-indexed websites linking to you?
The easiest way to find out is by using the LRT DTOX Tool. It is part of the LinkResearchTools but also stands on its own (http://www.linkdetox.com/).
DTOX supports you in researching all links to your website and cleaning up all toxic ones.
Step 1: Again, as in the other tools we used in this Penguin 2.0 case study, we just have to enter the URL to get started.
As we don’t know if cheapoair.com got an “unnatural links warning”, we will select “Don’t know” and start the tool in “classic mode” (More advanced users can also upload their already disavow’ed links. These links will then be marked as ignored. Save that for later).
Step 2: Now as we are looking for the de-indexed links, we will use the filter in the grid and select the rule “TOX1”:
Wow! Cheapoair.com has links from 148 pages that are not indexed anymore!
That’s quite a lot and could be one of the reasons why Penguin 2.0 hit cheapoair.com
f.) Did malware links cause a drop?
Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many malware links?
As I heard, some blackhat SEOs are practicing shooting toxic/malware links at a victim as negative SEO tactic successfully after Penguin 1.0.
Let’s look at this in detail:
If you have lots of malware infected sites linking to you, you can be in trouble!
In order to answer the above question let’s use the DTOX tool again.
Just change the rule filter from “TOX1” to “TOX2”:
As you can see, cheapoair.com has 182 pages linking to them that are reported to contain malware and virus! All of the 182 links are only from 24 websites in total. This doesn’t look like a crazy signal for a negative SEO attack in my opinion, yet. But it should be cleaned up anyways.
So what could cheapoair.com do to clean up this malware link mess?
1. If the link is of TOX2 type (This means those links are “deadly risky”) find out to which page of your website the malware infected website is linking to.
To get this information simply enable the “To Url” Row in DTOX Grid:
This will show you to witch of your subpages the TOX2 pages are linking to:
If they are linking directly to the home page there is not much you can do, but if the mal infected sites are linking to subpages, you could try to change the URL. Therefore the link is going to run to a 404 page and won’t count anymore.
That would mean no negative link juice for you anymore.
2. Disavow these links! Go to the Rules Tab and select TOX1 and TOX2:
Click on Export Filtered Data as: Google Disavow Links:
Download the disavow file:
Go and upload the disavow links to Google!
3. Try to get rid of these bad links:
Keep in mind: Even if you disavowed all spammy links it would be good to remove them as well. Don’t’ forget: the disavow file is just a recommendation to Google not to count these links – so for the long run it is more safe to get rid of them completely.
g.) Are offtopic links the root cause for this Penguin 2.0 drop?
As we know, it is getting more and more important to get the right links from the right websites. Also with Penguin 2.0 it is going to be more important to have links from topic related websites.
Once again let’s dive deeper into the link profile of cheapoair.com and let’s check out if its link profile consists of a lot of off topic links.
To solve this task we are going to start the LRT Backlink Profiler (BLP). This Tool helps you to analyze the backlink profile of your website through crawling the anchor text and link status for each link as well as metrics that help you determine the quality of your backlinks.
Step 1: We copy www.cheapoair.com into the URL/Domain analyze box and also set a Link Boost of 5x to make sure we get the maximum number of links (50000).
Next we have to select the right metrics to check out from what kind of themes the backlinks are coming.
To get the theme metric it is important to activate the “Basic SEO stats” check box.
Step 2: After hitting the “Run Report” button it can take several minutes to get all the data, because the BLP Tool is crawling each link to make sure the link is still existent and gather cool stuff like redirect-traces.
After receiving the data we go to the “More” tab on the very right side above and klick on the “Theme” button.
Finally the BLP report shows us the link profile for cheapoair.com sorted by theme as you can see in the following chart:
It looks like cheapoair.com has most of its links from travel websites which should be perfectly fine.
Once again I want to point out that one of the most important factors for a good ranking is to have a natural link profile which in fact means to have a similar link profile as your competitors. Blend in and outperform them just a little, as Christoph uses to say.
Hence, even if cheapoair.com has most of its links from topic related websites, I want to have a look at the theme ratios of its competitors.
Step 3: To compare the theme ratios we are going to start the Competitive Landscape Analyzer (CLA) once again. In order to get the “Theme of a Domain” this time we have to run the CLA in the “Detail Analysis” mode
we also need to select the right metric see below:
Now let’s have a look at cheapair.com’s important keywords:
Keyword: cheap flights
Keyword: cheap tickets
Keyword: cheap airline tickets
As you can see in the charts above, cheapoair.com has way more related topic links from the travel space compared to their competition!
Therefore, we have to answer the question, if cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many links from off topic websites? NO!
The paradox: cheapoair.com had too many links from related topic websites. “Too many” means too many compared to its competitors!
Or in other words – the mix wasn’t natural enough.
Those bars subtitled “Other” are links from many other themes, LRT knows 100 or so, and it appears that the spread is way better for the competition than it is for Cheapoair.
To get an idea of the spread, we can use the complex filter in the table, exclude Cheapoair, and possible dive thru all those other themes manually.
Another option is to use Excel – the only powerful tool for SEOs before LinkResearchTools was launched and use the raw data in a simple Pivot Table. So we download the filtered data completely into and XLSX to do that.
What we get is a breakdown of over 400 combinations of themes in the links, and that’s why they were grouped together in the chart – or can you image a chart with 400 bars – unreadable.
So at least one competitor had links from sites about Shopping, Military, even Sex Education. Well – that’s what a natural link mix looks like. Noise.
To avoid confusion, that’s just noise. For reference here are the most popular topics of those “Other” links.
|Theme of Link||Number of Links|
|Blogs/Personal Pages, Computers/Internet|
h) Did Advertorial Links cause a Penguin 2.0 penalty?
As Matt Cutts announced in one of his last videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQmQeKU25zg), Google is going to take action against advertorial posts as well. Refereed to Google’s quality guidelines, advertorial posts have to have nofollow status.
On the basis of this consideration we are going to try to find out if cheapoair.com has lots of advertorial links and if these links have follow or nofollow status.
Let’s get started by having a look at the BLP report we have done before and let’s check if we can find some advertorial links with exact match keywords.
Step 1: We start a BLP report and as soon as the report is finished we will go down to the link details section.
Of course it would take far too much time to go through all the 9518 backlinks. Therefore I will show how easy you can apply filters in order to see only the relevant results. As we are looking for advertorial links, it is very likely that the type of the advertorial links is to be found in “In Content”. So we go to the “Link Location” tab and select the “In Content” filter:
The application of this filter will shrink our prospective advertorial backlinks from 9518 to 988!
Well this is still a high amount of links we are unable to check manually whether it is an advertorial link or not. That’s why we will apply one more filter. Now we are assuming advertorial links are mostly located on pages with a high Power*Trust.
Thus let’s apply the Power*Trust filter.
We will set it from 12 to 20 to get the strongest websites listed.
Another easy way to find advertorial links is to apply the “Site Type” filter, set this filter to “News” and sort the results again by using the Power*Trust Filter as well.
By checking the links I’ve found I noticed that some articles look like advertorials but aren’t marked as advertorials and the links within the supposed advertorial are having the status “follow” instead of “nofollow” (see Google Guidelines for advertorials). In general we found very few articles that could be advertorials. That’s why I assume follow advertorial links are not a linkbuilding tactic of cheapoair.com.
Therefore use of advertorials are probably also not the reason why cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0.
i) Are “naturally” automated links the cause?
Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had a natural link profile that looks like it was built with automated linkbuilding tools?
Google told us that Penguin 2.0 will be a spam penalty. So let’s look at some metrics that can be a hint on what parts of the linkbuilding process have been made automatically by using set and forget linkbuilding tools like XRumer or Linkvana.
Once more we will start our analysis by looking at the CLA report in detail mode. We will pick the following metrics to get the data we need to dive even deeper.
In order to see if cheapoair.com has used set and forget linkbuilding tools, we have to analyze its forum and blog backlinks. Therefore select the link metric “Site Type” in the CLA report:
So will get the following results:
Looking at this chart we can see that the “Site Type” link ratio of cheapoair.com blends perfectly fine into what their competitors have. If cheapoair.com would have lots of spammy links out of forums or other sources we would be able to see this in the chart (forum posts would be a categorized as “Other”) If you’d like to analyze “Site Type” results in more detail you could make a BLP report. There you can filter by “Forum” to dig deeper.
Also the host IP address can be an indicator for using spam software. To see if cheapoair.com has a lot of Russian, Chinese or other foreign country links that are known as typical spam link sources we have to select “Hosting IP address country code” as well as “Hosting IP address city”:
This chart shows us, that the overall spread is o.k., cheapoair.com doesn’t have a lot of non-US or non-EU links. But Cheapoair.com seems to be more active in Europe than its competitors. Only 56% of its links are from US based sites. This distribution could lead Google to the conclusion that cheapoair.com is less relevant for the US market than its competitors, therefore Google maybe adjusted cheapoair.com’s ranking. But there is no sign of Blackhat Link Building, it’s rather a more diverse spread across countries. A bit odd tough if they only market to the US, CA and UK.
j) Homepage Redirects as cause for the Penguin 2.0 Penalty?
Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had lots of sneaky redirects from old pages to the homepage?
So let’s check if we can find some sneaky looking redirects for cheapoair.com!
Step 1: Let’s start a BLP and apply the “Link Type/redirect” filter:
As we can see we found only 24 redirected pages. Most of them are not even transmitting link juice.
Step 2: Let’s have a deeper look at the links transferring link juice:
The first 3 links in the table above are URLs from the URL Shorting Service po.st. These links seem normal.
The links from the other pages are also o.k pages – I was expecting some other domains that have been redirected to cheapoair.com to pass link juice like expired domains or out of date projects that redirect to cheapoair.com in order to get some link juice for this website.
Hence, the answer is NO. Sneaky redirects can’t be the reason why cheapoair.com to got hit by Penguin 2.0.
Important Hint: On May 21 John Mueller from Google confirmed that from now on Google will treat 301 internal redirects in a different way: Google will treat 301 redirects that redirect to a home page as a 404 error page (http://www.youtube.com/embed/WsDeu5PUx2A).
See the confirmation here in the video starting around minute 22.
This means that Google won’t let pass any link juice from this kind of 301 redirect.
To make sure not to lose your link juice, redirect all your 301s to another relevant subpage instead of the start page.
Currently the default suggestion in the Link Juice Recovery Tool (LJR) is the homepage – and Christoph confirmed - he already works on changing that, as it is no longer the recommended way to recover link juice as it was for years.
Does this mean, that internal redirects could pose a problem now? Yes. This needs further investigation as internal redirects have been common practice for years.
Also, we find that the non-www version cheapoair.com 301-redirects to the www.cheapoair.com
So when pulling all links going directly to the URL http://cheapoair.com (which we know is redirected to http://www.cheapoair.com we find a lot more.
101 redirecting pages to be precise. All but 3 are passing link juice with a 301. And they don’t look too sneaky, it’s just typo domains.
But then over a 100 redirects in 301-redirect chains maybe triggered another flag in the new Penguin 2.0 algo anyways? We see above that cbheapoair.com first 301s to cheapoair.com and then off to www.cheapoair.com.
That’s a lot of redirects to digest. And we can agree, that it would make sense to eliminate that 301-chain anyways and let them all go to the www version.
Did this cause a Penguin 2.0 problem? We don’t know, but it could be possible, as redirects seem to be interpreted differently in Penguin 2.0 anyways.
k.) Unnatural Link Velocity causing this Penguin 2.0 Penalty?
Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because its link velocity has been unnatural?
One of the key metrics we haven’t looked at yet is the link velocity.
After the release of Penguin 1.0 Christoph already discovered domains that had big drops in their link growth got hit hard.
To find out if cheapoair.com has had a natural link growth we are going to use the Competitive Link Velocity Tool (CLV) to compare the link growth of cheapoair.com and its competitors. Again, we will use the keyword “cheap flights”.
Step 1: Start the CLV, enter the Domain and select up to 10 competitors. First we have a look at the Link Velocity of the last 30 days:
As we can see at the link velocity trend (Domain Popularity) of cheapoair.com, the website had a good and healthy link growth.
The only abnormality I noticed was that cheapoair.com has got far less text links as most of its competitors.
Hence, a negative or to fast link velocity is not the reason why cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0.
Conclusion of this Penguin 2.0 deep dive for cheapoair.com
In most of the cases getting hit by Google’s Updates has more than one reason.
In this case study, we analyzed different possible causes for the loss in rankings of cheapoair.com.
Our analysis brought the following results:
a) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many links with exact match anchor text?
I would say YES. Cheapoair.com has much more money keywords than its competitors.
That’s a classical case of over-optimization. There are no general lines to draw in SEO – whatever you estimate, could be wrong estimated. To be on the safe side it is essential to compare your own link profile with the link profile of your competitors on a regularly basis (as we have seen above with the Competitive Landscape Analyzer). In this case, cheaopair.com’s ratio of money keywords was up to 66%, almost as double as its competitors for the keywords analyzed. So in my opinion, it is very likely that cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0 because of this factor.
b.) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many sitewide links?
NO. The study has shown that cheaopair.com hasn’t got too many sidewide links. On the contrary, it’s sidewide links ratio is below the average of its competitors. Therefore, too many sidewide links can’t be the reason why cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0.
c.) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many weak links?
Well, the answer of this question is NO. But I would suggest it has too many strong links! cheapoair.com has lots of good and strong links but again the important factor is that the distribution of the links has to be quite similar to the competitors. Although cheapoair.com has strong links, its’ link profile seems unnatural because the distribution of its strong links doesn’t fit into the average distribution.
d.) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many links from own company networks?
e.) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many links from de-indexed websites?
I would say YES. Cheaopair.com has 148 links from pages that are not indexed anymore. That is a quite high value and therefore might be another reason why cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0.
Deindexed websites can be sign of a problem, because that usually means Google deindexed the website for selling links or other violations. We could see 1000s of website from article link networks since the first Penguin update. Of course if there’s a website that blocked Google intentionally it would be deindexed too, and a false positive, but then – who in his right mind would NOT want Google to index his website?
f.) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many links from malware infected websites?
I would say YES. Cheapoair.com has 182 pages linking to it that are reported to contain malware and virus. The Link Detox tool (DTOX) classifies these links as “deadly risky”. Cheapoair.com should have cleaned this mess up. This factor can be yet another reason why cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0.
g.) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many links from offtopic websites?
The answer of the question is NO. On the contrary: cheapoair.com has too many links from related topic websites compared to its competitors. Again, to make sure not to be a victim of Google’s Updates it is essential (!!!) to compare all factors of your link profile with your competitors. As you can see in this case, too many topic related links can be the reason why cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0.
h.) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had too many advertorial links that do not pass any link juice?
NO. Cheapoair.com has very few marked and non marked advertorial links. So having too many advertorial links can’t be the reason why cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0.
i.) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had a natural link profile that looks like it was built with automated linkbuilding tools?
NO. Cheapoair.com has very little links from non-US or non-EU websites. But Cheapoair.com has more links from EU websites than its competitors. Google might conclude that cheapoair.com is less important for the US market than the competitor websites- This factor can also be one reason why cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0.
j.) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because it had lots of sneaky redirects?
NO. Cheapoair.com hasn’t got redirects from expired domains or out of date projects in order to get some extra link juice. Therefore, having sneaky redirects can’t be the reason why cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0.
k.) Did cheapoair.com get hit by Penguin 2.0 because its link growth has been unnatural?
NO. The link velocity trend of cheapoair.com, seems very normal that means the website has a good and healthy link growth. Therefore an unnatural link growth can’t be the reason why cheapoair.com got hit by Penguin 2.0.
In my opinion, cheapoair.com has far too many exact money keywords, lots of links from malware infected websites, a quite unnatural Power*Trust link profile and an unnatural amount of links from related topic websites.
These 4 things triggered the algorithm, I suppose.
What steps should cheapoair.com take to get out of the Penguin 2.0 trap?
- Cheapoair.com has to get rid of its entire malware infected links by following the instructions explained in chapter f.) of this paper.
- Cheapoair.com has to try to compensate it’s link profile:
a) Fix the Keyword Profile:
Cheapoair.com has to build more Brand and Other Keywords. Be careful! It is a big mistake to stop building money keywords from one day to another. This can be seen by Google as a signal for unnatural link. Therefore cheapoair.com still has to build money keywords but it has to set its linkbuilding ratio for money and compound keywords at 5-10%.
b) Fix the Power*Trust Issue
According to this chart, cheapoair.com needs to get some Links with Power Trust 0-3 and 13-21. Also this activity has to be as natural as possible.
Depending on the case, compensating a link profile takes months!
This case study was written by Harry Tschuggnall and reviewed and approved by Christoph C. Cemper for publishing as Certification work.
A word from Christoph C. Cemper
Case closed for now. Enough work to do and definitely even more to look into (redirects!).
This analysis was conducted and post written by our LRT Associate Harry Tschuggnall, Founder of Mediabase, an Austria based SEO and Link Building Agency. I highly appreciate and recommend this work for reading and further research and therefore grant Harry our Certified LRT Professional status by approving and publishing his research on our site.
This is Harry’s next step towards the Certified LRT Xpert level which is pre-requisite for the Certified LRT Agency certification. But until that is reached and Harry can reap all the benefits from it, I can already wholeheartly recommend you to work with him when you get a chance!
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