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Deep Dive into the Tarifcheck24.com Google Penguin Penalty
Even Big Insurance and Bank sites fall victim to Penguin Algorithm
Tarifcheck24.com is an online comparison portal for the German market. Here you can compare insurances, bank accounts, credit cards, mobile phone contracts, and so on. The website experienced a huge decline of 75% in SEO Visibility after the Penguin 2.0 algorithmic penalty.
Big Insurance and Bank sites are not immune to Google’s web spam campaign against SEO and unnatural links. With tarifcheck24.com, we see the site dropped hard in Penguin 2.0 and definitely has a long road to recovery.
We recommend SEO professionals implementing safe SEO and ongoing link risk management. For more background read this article in FORBES.
We believe cleaning up everything with Link Detox and using the Link Detox Boost tool can be the solution for Tarifcheck24.
This case study is written by our newest Certified LRT Professional, Mario Schwertfeger.
- Enjoy & Learn!
Christoph C. Cemper
PS: In our case studies, we try to provide real data for SEO Professionals on how to use LinkResearchTools to identify link profile risks. We assume Tarifcheck24's SEO team is actively auditing their backlink profile and performing link clean-ups as you read this.
Table of Contents
- 1 The drop.
- 2 History of tarifcheck24.com..
- 3 The importance and visibility of the insurance folders.
- 4 Assumptions.
- 5 A quick look at the competitors.
- 6 Let’s have a deeper look at the backlink profile.
- 6.4.1 [img] private krankenversicherung.
- 6.4.2 Further money anchors.
- 6.4.3 Detecting Link Networks.
- 6.4.4 Money anchors on spammy pages…and more paid links.
- 7 Link Velocity.
- 8 Competitive Link Detox.
- 9 Link DETOX Genesis.
- 10 Summary.
CEMPER 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. The drop
Thanks to the LRT Case Studies, we have seen many different case studies analyzing Penguin 2.0 and Penguin 2.1 problems in different industries.
Due to my former experiences in the banking sector, I was looking for a page in this sector and found tarifcheck24.com, which had a huge drop in SISTRIX after the Penguin 2.0 update that rolled out on the 24th of May 2013. As you can see, tarifcheck24.com had a huge drop shortly after this update and also lost a little visibility after Penguin 2.1.
The Searchmetrics Suite chart confirms these impressions as we can see a huge drop in SEO Visibility after Penguin 2.0 with SEO Visibility declining by nearly 75%.
2. History of tarifcheck24.com
According to SISTRIX, the domain existed since the beginning of 2004. Actually, tarifcheck24.com is a platform for the German market where you can compare insurances, bank accounts, credit cards, mobile phone contracts and so on.
Because the SISTRIX database just goes back to 2008, we have to take a look at the Wayback Machine to explore the history of tarifcheck24.com. After running the Wayback Machine, we can see that tarifcheck24.com was discovered for the first time on January 20th in 2004.
Looking at the contact data of the website in 2004, you can see that the CEO of tarifecheck24.com was the same as it is today. Therefore, we can be sure that the content of the website has always been the same since 2004. The owner developed this domain over the years and built all its backlinks. Tarifcheck24.com was never a Dropped Domain. Therefore, there wasn’t a backlink profile where the business website was been built on.
In the following screenshot we can see that, in 2004, the website specialized in insurance topics. Insurance means “Versicherung” in German.
As the insurance section of the website was the first important part of it, we can assume that this section is still the most important part today. And we also can imagine that some very old-fashioned backlinks have been built for the insurance section in the early days. So let’s have a look at SISTRIX again.
3. The importance and visibility of the insurance folders
Regarding the historical background of tarifcheck24.com, we can assume that even today insurances will be a very important part of this website. Looking at SISTRIX we can see that 3 of the 5 strongest folders are insurance-related folders, with “Private Krankenversicherung” (which means private health insurance) being the most important part.
Maybe the decline of the whole site goes hand-in-hand with the decline of one of the strongest folders?
Investigating the visibility of the folders, there is obviously the biggest decrease in the “private-krankenversicherung” folder after Penguin 2.0 (see the orange visibility chart below).
Regarding the keywords with the biggest drops in the weeks after Penguin 2.0, we can see that most of them are insurance-related keywords.
Now that the foundation is laid, let’s dig deeper into the Penguin 2.0 analysis. As we heard lately, there are some common problems that occur with most of the Penguin victims:
- High usage of money-anchors – this time maybe it’s “private krankenversicherung”?
- A high money vs. brand ratio
- Too much power versus trust in the backlink profile
- Too many sitewide links
- Paid links
- Participation in link networks
- Dangerous redirects as seen on home24.de
- Unnatural link profiles
- Unnatural link growth
- High Link DTOX Risk
We will keep these reasons in mind when starting the Quick Domain Compare Tool for tarifcheck24.com to get a first impression of their backlink profile in this niche. And we definitely will focus on private health insurance as this folder decreased the most.
5. A quick look at the competitors
Before starting a report for a new customer, I always create a new project for them. In this case study I’ll create a new project called Tarifcheck24.com.
In the project settings area you can set up the default language, Search Engine, Country, Competitors and some more options so you don’t have to do that later if you run the reports.
This part was easy. But I also recommend adding the competitors’ URLs in the competition settings so their URLs will be automatically integrated in reports like CLA, CDTOX, CLV, LJT, CBLT and MLT.
But where do we get the competitors? At this point we have to switch to the Quick Domain Compare Tool and its special function, “Find Competing Pages”.
Let’s search for our competitors by typing in relevant keywords like “Private Krankenversicherung” as this was the strongest folder of tarifcheck24.com with the hugest drop.
After doing this, LRT suggests five competitors:
- 1. Pkv.de – an association of private health insurances and ranking number two behind Wikipedia.
- 2. Dkv.com – a private health insurance company.
- 3. Private-krankenversicherung-heute.de
- 4. Privatekrankenversicherung-portal.de
- 5. 1a.net
The last three are all platforms like tarifcheck24.com where you can compare different contracts and offers.
All of these suggested competitors are ranking on page 1 of the SERPS for the keyword, “Private Krankenversicherung”. And all, except private-krankenversicherung-portal.de, were growing in search visibility or were stable after Penguin 2.0.
The only competitor that went down after Penguin 2.0 was privatekrankenversicherung-portal.de, but they are still on page 1. Maybe they have something in common with tarifcheck24.com.
The suggested competitors are quite a relevant and interesting mix.
But now we will step back to the project settings to enter these five competitors into the competition settings.
Well done! Now we can start the Quick Domain Compare Tool with 4 of our 5 suggested competitors. I decided to leave dkv.com out as they are a company which directly sells insurances and isn’t ranking as good as pkv.de.
Below we can see the result of the check.
At first, we can see nothing really bad with tarifcheck24.com – they are even the winner of the QDC. And there isn’t a significant gap between LRT Power and LRT Trust as could be seen with many other Penguin 2.0 victims.
But there is one thing that looks a little suspicious: the amount of Backlinks to Domain in comparison to the Domain Popularity. It seems that they have a
lot of sitewide links.
6. Let’s have a deeper look at the backlink profile
Now we will use the Backlink Profiler (BLP) to get a deeper understanding of the tarifcheck24.com backlink profile. But wait a moment! Some time passed by since May 2013…so I think they definitely removed a lot of their spammy links.
However, we will test it. Let’s start a CLV (Competitive Link Velocity).
After running the CLV – that compares your link velocity with the velocity of your competitors – we will switch to the “Deleted Links” tab.
And we can see that tarifcheck24.com definitely deleted some of their links, especially in June 2013.
Therefore, we should start two different BLP (Backlink Profiler) reports as I think they mainly removed the very spammy links.
So let’s begin with the BLP in which we check the “Remove Dropped Links” tab. By the way, we will choose the sitewide link-filter 5 and the 5x Link Boost
to get as many links as possible.
With this report we will see the current picture. Additionally, we now have to run the report again with the “Remove Dropped Links” box unchecked.
And as we can see in the results, the report that included the dropped links shows us links from 6,023 different pages and 2,741 domains.
However, the report where we removed the dropped links only shows us links from 4,617 pages and 2,029 domains.
After looking at the CLV Tool (Competitive Link Velocity) we assumed that a lot of links - probably from spammy sites - have been deleted. So we will use the report that includes the dropped domains for our further investigations.
6.1 Categorizing the keywords in the BLP
If you work with the BLP (Backlink Profiler), it’s always recommended to classify the keywords that have been used as anchors into brand, compound, money or other. With this manual classification the results get a little more detailed. LRT recommends that you should at least classify 80% of the keywords.
As you can see above, you can classify word by word. Instead of this slow process, we will use the keyword classification table to classify keywords in the fastest way. If you do not know the exact meanings for each category (brand, compound, money and other), you can look them up in the LRT guidelines: http://www.linkresearchtools.com/technology/keyword-intelligence/
6.2 Taking a deep look into some of the BLP metrics
After classifying all of the keywords, it is time to take a deeper look into the BLP metrics.
6.2.1 LRT Power*Trust™
If you first look at the Power*Trust metric, you can see a lot of backlinks with zero Power*Trust. In my opinion, that is very high. But you always have to compare this backlink profile with the competitions’ profiles. We’ll do this later with the Competitive Landscape Analyzer.
Exploring the “Trust” tab, we also can see that the vast majority of backlinks has simply no trust.
In this Backlink Profiler, you can gain a lot of other different and interesting insights by clicking on “More” in the Link Profile by Metrics overview.
After selecting this tab, you will get many other metrics like keyword, link type, link location and so on.
These metrics can give you a lot of very interesting indications whether a link profile is healthy or not.
As we all know, one of the most important factors of the Penguin update was keyword distribution. Websites with a huge amount of links with money anchors have often been penalized during the Penguin updates, so we should definitely consider the keyword distribution.
This keyword-distribution could definitely be a signal for spammy SEO-techniques! (We still have to look at the competitors to see if this fits, or if there are too many money keywords already – we will do that in one of the next steps.)
After investigating some of the other metrics in the “More” tab, we should definitely have a closer look at the anchor texts of tarifcheck24.com.
6.2.3 Link Location
Another conspicuous metric is the link location.
You can find a lot of links from link lists, footer links and sidebar links. The ratio of footer links and sidebar links are quite high and could be a signal for many sitewide links. The latter has been a main criterion for the crash of previous Penguin victims, especially if these sitewide links are combined with money anchors. I think we are now getting closer and closer to the sources of the Penguin drop of tarifcheck24.com.
Another metric that shows some very uncommon details for tarifcheck24.com is the TitleRank-home metric. Many backlinks rank worse than page 30 for its own title. By the way, a few of the back linking URLs are not even indexed which could be a signal for spammy backlinks.
Overall, we can see that tarifcheck24.com used to have a lot of links with money-anchors, probably a lot of sitewide links and quite a lot of backlinks from very low ranking pages or pages that are not even indexed. I think it makes sense to start a Link Detox Genesis since there are so many bad ranking URLs in our backlink profile.
Before we take the next step in the BLP, I would like to compare their backlink profile with their competitors’ profiles. .
To compare the backlink profile of tarifcheck24 with the profile of the SERP competitors, I usually run a Competitive Landscape Analyzer Report.
6.3 Completing the backlink profile with the most important competitors
After running the report (with a sitewide filter of 5 and a 5x Link Boost), you can see that a link profile with a very low LRT Power*Trust metric seems to be fairly normal in this niche.
But, of course, the great amount of low LRT Power*Trust backlinks in combination with the bad ranking back linking URLs could be a signal for spammy and risky URLs. We will investigate this later on. Now let’s compare some other metrics with those of our competitors.
6.3.1 Keyword Distribution
One metric that was very alarming in our first look at the BLP was the keyword distribution. Even in the CLA the keyword distribution compared to their competitors is very frightening.
We can see that, on average, tarifcheck24.com has many more money anchor backlinks than its competitors. This is very unnatural and, as I told you a few times before, often has been the main source for Penguin dropdowns too.
6.3.2 Link Status
Auditing the Link Status distribution, you can see that tarifcheck24.com has more nofollow links than the competition. This could be a hint for a lot of blog comment links, for example. But we also see that, for 14% of our backlinks, the link status is not available.
What’s the reason for this phenomenon? To find out, we should filter the backlinks with the status “n/a”.
After doing this, you can see that most of the backlinks with link status “n/a” are just redirects. As redirects and redirects also pass link juice, it would be interesting to examine what kind of URLs are now redirected to tarifcheck24.com. As we have seen in previous case studies, redirects from spammy pages often had a negative influence on the sites they were redirected to.
Going to the next tab called “Link Type” in the CLA, our impression of the redirects gets confirmed. Tarifcheck24.com has many more redirects in its backlink profile than the competition. I make a note to examine these redirects in a later step.
6.3.3 Deeplink Ratio
When comparing your own backlink profile with the profiles of the competition, you always should consider the deeplink ratio. If a website has many more deeplinks than startpage links, it is often a sign of spam techniques. Startpage links are commonly more natural than deeplinks that are most often linked with money anchors. Additonally, if you have many more deeplinks than the competitors in your niche, then you don’t “stay under the radar” anymore for Google. That is exactly the case with tarifcheck24.com.
With these impressions in mind, we should return to the Backlink Profiler and especially scrutinize the money anchors, the sitewides and the redirects.
By the way, in earlier case studies, some of the victims had the problem of having backlinks from a lot of different and foreign-speaking countries. This isn’t a problem for tarifcheck24.com as the country code distribution is quite normal compared to the competitors.
6.4 Examining the money anchors
Looking at the tag cloud using the Backlink Profiler, you can see that “Private Krankenversicherung” is very often used as anchor text. Bingo! This is exactly the keyword for the folder “Private Krankenversicherung” that had the greatest drops in SISTRIX visibility. As I wrote above, “Private Krankenversicherung”, means private health insurance. Let’s focus on private health insurance now.
6.4.1 [img] private krankenversicherung
Extremely conspicuous to me is the “[img] private krankenversicherung”, which means that someone linked to tarifcheck24.com with a picture that contains the alt-text, “private krankenversicherung”. What do you think? How natural is it that this is the most often used anchor text? To me this looks like some kind of sitewide linking from satellites. This would positively correlate with the huge amount of sidebar and footer-links we’ve previously found. Let’s look at some of these links by filtering the link-list by the anchor text, “[img] private krankenversicherung”.
One of the first websites that matches the filtered criteria is betriebsausfallversicherung.com.
At first, this site looks like a typical SEO site which is optimized for a few insurance keywords as nearly the whole navigation on the left consists of money keywords. And at the end of the sidebar we can see a pic that is described as a partnerlink and links to tarifcheck24.com. Looking at the source code, this link has the alt-text, “private krankenversicherung”.
Another point that makes this website look spammy is the fact, that the domain betriebsausfallversicherung.com – which is an exact match domain – doesn’t have content that fits to the keyword “betriebsausfallversicherung”. In Germany, “Betriebsausfallversicherung” is insurance that pays money to your company if your machines went down and you can’t produce anymore. But the topics on betriebsausfallversicherung.com have nothing to do with this kind of insurance. The content on this site is mostly about private insurances, credits and mortgage loans.
When we use the site-operator in Google, we can see that only one URL on the whole website is indexed – not a very good sign.
We even don’t have any visibility for this site in SISTRIX.
When you take a look at this domain in the Wayback Machine, you can see that this domain was registered in the early 2000’s by the same owner as it has today.
You can see this if you look at some of the screenshots that were made in 2004/2005. But there you also see that there wasn’t any content on this site until 2012/2013. The last screenshot from 2011 only shows this “content”:
If you look at the website of the owner of betriebsausfallversicherung.com, you can see that they sell mainly exact-match-domains. I assume that, until they sell these domains, they put some (duplicate) content in these domains and sell links on them to earn some money.
You can find a hint that strengthens my assumptions in the footer of the site.
You can find a hint that further insurance-portals are found on tarifcheck24.com. On the other hand, you can find sitewide links that have nothing to do with the topic, e.g. a link to a site about Thailand, and therefore are definitely sold links.
Another site that uses the “[img] private krankenversicherung” anchor is arbeitslosenversicherung.info. What do we see when we open this site?
Exactly the same content as on betriebsausfallversicherung.com!!! (No, that’s not 100% the truth. We have a different footer with some other off-topic links like a soccer forum). Even the title is the same so we have the hardest kind of duplicate content on this site.
And again we have the tarifcheck24 image-link in the sidebar.
After quick-checking this site with the site-operator in Google, you can see that only two URLs of this website are indexed.
Last, but not least, this site also doesn’t have any visibility in SISTRIX. This is definitely a domain you shouldn’t have links from.
There are many other domains which work in the same way with the same design, content and so on like agentursparfuchs.de, azubi-kredit.com, bauherrenvollschutz.com, besterversicherungsvergleich.de, versicherung99.de, versicherungen-kredite24.de, zsu-gmbh.eu and many, many more.
6.4.2 Further money anchors
Let’s look at the next money anchor that looks quite unnatural – “private krankenversicherung” – by filtering the details as I described above, or by simply clicking on the anchor text distribution.
By filtering and sorting for “private Krankenversicherung”, we should look at some of the results.
The first thing that I recognize on page 1 of the results is the URL, http://www.elektronic-tipps.de/partner3.shtml “Elektronic” is neither the German nor the English expression, so maybe it’s a foreign URL. Looking at the right side we also see that LRT classified this site as “Malware”. As you never know what’s on a malware site, we shouldn’t open this URL in the BLP, but later we can in Link DETOX Genesis where we can use the screening-feature.
Looking at these results a second time, we see that tarifcheck24.com also published some articles in article directories like pressemitteilung.ws and fachwissen-katalog.de where everybody can publish an article including a backlink. As these directories have often been misused in the past for spammy reasons (especially in combination with money anchors), Google has penalized a lot of them. Google doesn’t allow you to use these directories for branding and other tasks, so it’s not recommended to use it for linkbuilding. According to Google’s guidelines, you have to set the links to “nofollow”. But, as we can see in our result list below, both articles have got a link with money anchor and “follow” status, which definitely is regarded as spam by Google.
6.4.3 Detecting Link Networks
On Page 2 we’ll find another astonishing result. There are a few backlink-URLs with “yoga” in them, e.g. yoga-ibiza.de or yoga-portugal.de. By the way, all of these links are follow-links.
Even a beginner would assume that this must be some kind of network. Looking at the IP-addresses on the right side, you can see that almost all of these sites have the same c-class which indicates that they belong to the same network. And yoga-ibiza.de, which has another c-class, at least has the same registrar – WEBDE.
Without knowing these sites, we can say that it is a network created to generate backlinks. So let’s have a short look at these sites to confirm our assumption.
The first of these yoga pages in the result list is yoga-aegypten.de, probably a site about yoga in Egypt.
The navigation on the left has tabs that lead you to information about Egypt, tourist places in Egypt and further information about Egypt. In the main content you can read that you can’t book the trip to Egypt anymore as it is fully booked. Below you see a probably sold link to a tour operator business specializing in cruises. The other links in the main content link to a site which belongs to the same owner (look into “Impressum”) and have been created to sell yoga-equipment. So we can conclude that this is a network of satellites with which the owner wants to strengthen his yoga equipment-selling sites.
Now you may ask yourself what all this yoga and Egypt stuff has to do with private health insurances? Yeah, really nothing. I definitely can’t find a connection. But if you look in the footer of this site, there you can find it: the really “natural looking” link to tarifcheck24.com: “Kostenlos und unverbindlich private Krankenversicherung Angebot anfordern” – which means that you can get a free and non-committal offer for private health insurance.
A completely off-topic footer-link from a satellite like this is definitely not the best choice for your links.
This site has virtually the same concept as yoga-aegypten.de except that it is created for Greece. And if you look at some of the pages of this website, you also find a lot of orthographic mistakes. This isn’t really an attribute of a high quality website. But next to a link for swimsuits, tarifcheck24.com has a footer-link from this website.
Surfing to yoga-ibiza.de, you can see the same concept again – this time with Ibiza instead of Greece – but with the same “nice” link in the footer.
I have seen enough of this yoga network for now.
Let’s look at some of the other pages with the money anchor text, “private krankenversicherung”.
6.4.4 Money anchors on spammy pages and more paid links
Boersenwissen.info should be a website that explains different stock market phrases similar to a dictionary. But soon after opening the homepage, you can see a lot of advertisements on this site. Even the in-content links on the start page open up advertisement-pop-ups.
With this picture in mind, you can imagine that this site has very thin content and was probably just made for advertisements. You can confirm this if you look at some of the phrases pages.
There’s thin content and advertisements everywhere. Again, you can find pop-up advertisements in the content.
Going through all the sites with anchor text, “private krankenversicherung”, you’ll find a lot of other creepy websites that are often MFAs (made for AdSense) with links that never look like natural links but are indeed spammy links. No wonder that the Penguin hit them hard with these backlinks in their link-profile!
Already at this point we can say that tarifcheck24.com has problems because of an overuse of money anchor text and (sitewide) links from spammy websites and networks.
But there was another conspicuous point that we wanted to investigate: the big amount of redirects linking to tarifcheck24.com. As I already mentioned above, Google also counts and values redirects. In the past, many websites have been penalized as they have very bad redirects from spammy sites and bad neighborhoods. Let’s look at the redirects that link to tarifcheck24.com.
6.5 The redirects
To explore only the redirects in the Backlink Profiler, we will use the filter possibility again. For this issue, we go to LinkType in the Details and select “redirect”.
We can see there are 276 redirects in the Details Section of the Backlink Profiler after you have filtered for “redirect” in the Link Type column. Just take a look at the screenshot below where I marked the amount of filtered redirects.
But, as we all know, redirect is not redirect. Not every redirect passes link juice. By the way, John Mueller debunked the myth that 302 redirects pass link juice at one of the latest Webmaster Centrals. So, in my opinion, it’s much more interesting to examine the redirects that pass link juice or at least to put the focus of our examinations on these redirects.
We will filter “Redir Juice” for “Juice” and LRT will automatically filter the redirects that pass link juice.
I hide the anchor texts (as we talk about redirects right now) with the “Hide Columns” Feature. Then I enable “To URL” so we can sort for the private insurance folder as this folder is the most interesting.
The first link we can see is:
Clicking on the “+” next to the URL we can get further information about this URL.
After clicking the “+” button, we can see that it is a 301 redirect chain over two sides of tarifcheck24.com.
First, we will look at this URL in the Wayback Machine to see what it looked like in the past. The result is disappointing. You won’t see any website but always a former 302 redirect.
But if you look at the URL, you can see that it is a subfolder of partner-versicherung.de, that is called a.partner-versicherung.de. If you try to open just http://a.partner-versicherung.de, you also get a 403 Forbidden message.
Maybe the domain partner-versicherung.de is still visible? Yes, it is. And as you can see at the logo on the left, this site is an affiliate-program of tarifcheck24.com.
Oh, look at the URL: this subdomain obviously was a redirect to versicherungspartnerprogramme.de. By the way, partner-versicherung.de is also a redirect to versicherungspartnerprogramme.de. It wasn’t the best solution to redirect the domain and the subdomain to versicherungspartnerprogramme.de. The URLs on this subdomain linking to tarifcheck24.com don’t look very natural in my eyes – you should always redirect each URL to a new URL that is similar to the old one. It’s also better not to split up the redirect source on different targets as this could look very unnatural.
But now we know that this URL was some kind of affiliate URL before its redirection. Analyzing this URL in Niels Bosma’s SEO Tools, you can see that this URL was a follow-link. This is against Google Webmaster Guidelines because you have to put affiliate links on nofollow. But I am sure that this didn’t cause the Penguin drop.
With a click on Start QBL page, we can go on with our investigation and explore the backlinks to this URL. This could be interesting because the redirects pass the juice to tarifcheck24.com, whether it’s good or not.
After running the QBL for this page, LRT found 4.016 Links to this URL. All links are image links with no alt tag despite the fact they are from different URLs and even different domains.
Looking at the DomainPop in the QBL, you can see that the backlinks come from two domains: blitz-mailtausch.de and turbo-mailtausch.de, which both mean something like fast mail-exchange in German. They sound like two completely off-topic and spammy sites. Let’s look at these pages.
They’re really ugly pages! The first thing you see after opening this site is a big pop-up with advertising from check24.de – the new project of tarifcheck24.com.
After closing the pop-up you can see more advertising on the left sidebar – including the tarifcheck24.com-banner, “Kostenlos vergleichen”.
You don’t believe me that these are paid links? 😉 Then look at the header. They even promote their link-selling in a very prominent way: “your link for only 5,95 € per month – if you are interested please click”. You really don’t need to be a Google Mastermind to detect these link-selling methods.
If you are interested, you can register on this site to receive advertising emails in exchange for coins. This site definitely has nothing to do with private health insurance, but it is a very spammy link seller. Turbo-mailtausch.de is the same concept. So, in this case, tarifcheck24.com definitely has a redirect that is passing bad juice.
The next URL on our list is on an adserver subdomain of partner-versicherung.de with 3.769 backlinks. I suppose that these backlinks look quite the same as the backlinks on the previous URL.
Surprise, surprise! All links are image links from two domains: miniload.de and loady.de.
Spammy link-selling sites again! And the purpose of the site is to offer downloads. These pages are also really off-topic.
Look at the bottom of this page and you see a lot of paid links for a ski shop, a car shop, and holiday in Croatia, real estate in Tenerife and so on.
After these detections, we can assume that redirects could have been a problem for tarifcheck24.com and its private health insurance folder. But I also think that it wasn’t the biggest troublemaker as there are just 10 redirects and not all of them have such a huge amount of backlinks.
7 Link Velocity
In previous case studies, we have seen that link velocity often has been a reason for Penguin drops – especially if there was a huge spike in link velocity for a short period of time followed by a huge decline.
So let’s look at tarifcheck24’s link velocity. As we already ran the report in the beginning of our investigations, we just have to re-open it.
Click on the CLV (Competitive Link Velocity) Tool again and take a look:
We can obviously see a lot of new links in November 2012, which look quite unnatural compared to the competitors. In 2013, tarifcheck24.com did less link building than the competitors – maybe they stopped working at tarifcheck24.com to focus on check24.de (as this is the same company). But why did they have such a spike in November 2012? As we already said, sitewide links are definitely a problem in their link profile. Maybe those links were sitewide links?
To answer this question, we have to go to the “Sitewide Ratio” tab.
This confirms our assumption that there was a spike in November due to sitewide links. However, if you look at the velocity of domain popularity, you can see that the velocity looks quite natural compared to the competitors.
Another way to look at the Link Velocity without all the sitewide links would be to click on the “Domain Popularity” tab – it would just show you 1 link from every domain.
8 Competitive Link Detox
Another competitor comparison you should do in every backlink analysis is Competitive Link Detox. I usually use the CLD for a quick insight into my link risk. If there’s any trouble, then I take a deeper look with Link Detox Genesis.
You can compare the risk of your own backlink profile according to the toxicity of your backlinks with the risk of the backlink profiles of the competitors. If you suffered a penalty, then you should especially compare your Link Detox risk with that of your competitors. In general, if you have a Link Detox Risk above 500, you should do a detailed backlink audit. Also, if you have a Link Detox Risk that is higher than the Link Detox Risk of your competitors, then you could be in real danger with your actual backlink profile. Let’s analyze it using the Competitive Link Detox.
This result not only shows us that we have a much higher Average Link Detox Risk than the Top 3, but it also shows a much higher risk than the total average. This is really frightening.
Looking at the Detox metric, we can see that we definitely have more suspicious links and much more toxic links than our competitors. The toxic links are especially dangerous.
The next tab shows the different levels of Link Detox Risk and tells us that we have many more deadly risk links than our competitors.
Looking at the different Link Detox Rules, we can see a big difference in SUSP31.
If you don’t know what all the different Link Detox Rules mean, you can look them up at http://www.linkdetox.com/faq-de/. “SUSP31” means that the anchor text placement looks suspicious. I bet the reason for this are all the sitewide links that we talked about in the previous chapters.
But this high risk in comparison to the competitors is definitely a signal to look deeper into this risky backlink profile with Link Detox Genesis.
9 Link DETOX Genesis
Starting the Detox Tool is very easy. We use the tool to detect the theme of the domain automatically and we also choose “Don’t know“ as we don’t know if tarifcheck24.com got a manual spam action from Google. After that, we start the report in the classic mode.
After running the report, the result is shocking! Deadly Risk!
Oh! There’s something that we have forgotten. This is the average risk of the actual link profile as deleted links are removed. But in Link Detox Genesis, we can re-run the report and disable the “Remove Dropped Links” option.
By the way, we also ran the DETOX report only for tarifcheck24.com, not for www.tarifcheck24.com. But in Link Detox Genesis, the best workflow is to run the report for both to get the best results. In Link Detox Genesis, we can do this within one report by the “Detox both” option. So let’s do this.
After re-running the report we get the following result. It’s getting more and more frightening. As a rule, if your site has a Link Detox Risk higher than 500, you are in trouble or soon will be in trouble.
As I mentioned above, this result is without keyword classification. Keyword classification is very important as heavy usage of money anchors often causes Google penalties. Results become even more accurate in Link Detox Genesis if you classify at least 80% of your keywords. This classification is also important to enable the SUSP28, SUSP29, SUSP30 and SUSP31 rule (these are rules considering the anchor text) in the Link Detox Genesis Tool, which influences the overall risk. You’ll find detailed explanations of the SUSP rules on LinkResearchTools.com.
Keyword classification is easily done through the bulk classification where you can classify a greater bunch of keywords at once.
After classification, you have to re-run the report, and it doesn’t cost any further credits.
After that process, Link Detox Genesis calculates a new average Link Detox risk. Unfortunately, this risk is higher as it was before.
To all readers - comment by Christoph: Please remember that we NOW have the most accurate Link Detox result possible. There are often cases where the result after classification of 80% of more keywords is quite different from the initial result, in either direction.
In the beginning of the analysis, I found a website that was classified as malware: elektronic-tipps.de. In Link Detox Genesis you now have a tool to review these links in Link Detox Screener, which is a secure way to look at these kinds of toxic links.
By filtering for this keyword, I will look at this site through the Link Detox Screener.
Even in the Screener we can’t open this link because of our computer settings! Must be a really evil malware URL. We can see that this link is classified as very high risk, fulfilling the following rules: TOX2, SUSP8, SUSP9, SUSP23, SUSP24. By clicking on the (5) in the rules column, we can see an explanation of all of these rules at once.
Beside the fact that this domain’s theme is listed as malware, this URL again seems to be part of a link network. Link networks seem to be a big problem in the backlink profile of tarifcheck24.com.
Now let’s look at some other URLs. Let’s sort the risk and especially look at some of the URLs classified as deadly risk. Just to let you know, filtering for just the deadly risk links brings out 1.576 links! The second URL on our list has a deadly risk, money anchor and hits 8 of the Link Detox Rules: http://www.private-krankenversicherung.picx.de/!
By the way, the subdomain, private-krankenversicherung, is exact match – looks like a typical SEO or probable affiliate site.
Again, we can see a link network problem at first sight. Let’s visit this site with the screener. What we can see is a “link farm” without any real content and purpose except selling links with the tarifcheck24.com link listed on number seven.
Here tarifcheck24.com fulfills a lot of SEO sins: money anchor, link farm, paid link and network link from a page that doesn’t rank very well.
If you look at the header, you even can see a banner link to tarifcheck24.de that is a follow link, which is definitely a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Let’s step to the next URL on our list: a URL that hits 9 of the Link Detox rules. The link status is [LinkNotFound], so probably this link was removed from the list. But it might be interesting to watch this site.
There’s nothing more to say. It’s no wonder that this link was classified as a deadly risk.
Another link that seems to be interesting is the link from tarot-verzeichnis.de. According to its domain, it should be a link directory about tarot cards. I don’t have a clue what this has to do with private health insurance.
I think that’s enough for now. Knowing that about 1,500 of the links have deadly risk and look similar to the links above, one doesn’t really wonder why tarifcheck24.com became a Penguin victim. And besides the links with deadly risk, there are still 264 links with very high risk and 701 pages with high risk... a pretty mess.
With tarifcheck24.com, we have seen a Penguin victim that was hit very hard by Penguin 2.0 and definitely will have to go a long, long way to recover from this when they manually remove the links. After cleaning up everything, maybe the new Link Detox Boost tool could be a solution for them.
But I think this company gave in as we could see a big decrease in link building after the Penguin drop, and they still have check24.de. Let’s summarize what caused the Penguin drop.
10.1 Reasons that didn’t lead to Penguin 2.0
Too much Power vs. Trust definitely wasn’t a Penguin 2.0 factor in this case. Also, the Power*Trust distribution in comparison to its rivals didn’t contribute to the crash. In some cases, they had an unnatural link profile, but the country code ratio also wasn’t responsible for Penguin 2.0.
Unnatural link growth also didn’t cause the drop in my opinion.
But as we explored tarifcheck24.com, we found some unnatural link patterns like the huge amount of redirects. Some of the redirects were even sneaky from occasional bad neighborhoods. It’s definitely possible that these redirects played a role in the Penguin 2.0 drop. Considering all the other factors, like money anchor overuse, I don’t think the redirects had a big role.
10.2 Reasons that probably caused Penguin 2.0
Considering the last chapter, the High Link DETOX Risk was definitely a factor contributing to Penguin. If your website has a risk around 1,000 you will probably get hit by Penguin. The Risk of tarifcheck24.com was much higher.
Regarding the link profile, that in some cases was unnatural, the deep link ratio could have caused Penguin 2.0 because tarifcheck24.com has many more deep links than its competitors.
But, in my opinion, the main problems of tarifcheck24.com are paid links, sitewide-links, link-networks and especially the over usage of money anchors. We have seen a lot of links that even guys without SEO knowledge could easily identify as paid links. Additionally, we also had a lot of (paid) sitewide-links in the footers and sidebars, which often were built on link-networking sites. Finally, one can summarize that tarifcheck24.com stepped into a lot of the Penguin pitfalls.
Remove all those risky links as soon as possible. If you can’t remove them manually, try disavowing them. I also recommend using Link Detox Boost to accelerate the process. Simultaneously one should start natural link building to have a natural and strong link profile in the future.
This case study was written by Mario Schwertfeger, SEO Manager at Catbird Seat, and proud user of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox.
A word from Christoph C. Cemper
Mario displays his skills completing an SEO link audit on Tarifcheck24.com's google penguin penalties. I am thrilled by the detail and structure he accomplished in his case study. Therefore, I'm happy to publish Mario Schwertfeger'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 Mario Schwertfeger to work with you, whenever you get the opportunity!