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Reservation Denied! Unterkunft.de Loses Search Visibility

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Unterkunft German startups SEO Google penaltyAnother Travel Booking Website Sees Search Visibility Plummet

There's no room on Google for spammy SEO.

You thought you booked a reservation. But you get to the hotel to check in, and the manager gives you a blank look.

That panic you feel must have been what Unterkunft felt in March when their search visibility dropped. Their site is plagued by Money keyword anchors, sitewide links, links from spammy directories and more. See what they did wrong and decide for yourself if they can recover.

This is the third case study in the “5 German startups hit hard by Google” series by Guntram to achieve Certified LRT Xpert status. Sign up here to not miss any of the next updates.

We look forward to your feedback and always appreciate you sharing the work of our Certified LRT Professionals.

Enjoy & Learn

Christoph C. Cemper

cemper power trust is lrt power trustCEMPER Power*Trust is now LRT PowerTrust

You may still see CEMPER Power*Trust™, CEMPER Power™ and CEMPER Trust™ on some screenshots in this case study.

In 2015, we renamed these metrics to LRT Power*Trust, LRT Power and LRT Trust to reflect the shortname of LinkResearchTools - which is LRT.

No holiday for Unterkunft.de

Unterkunft.de is a booking portal that specializes in private accommodations very similar to Airbnb. Its information, photos, and maps of the properties give good insight on what to expect as a traveler. Prices and availability are displayed and, using a bidding model, the traveler can offer a price and negotiate directly with the lender. The Triplemind GmbH owns Unterkunft.de. The site currently hosts 46,000 locations and is one of the major suppliers of private accommodations in Germany. It claims to have more than 1.2 million visitors per month and 100+ booking requests daily.

What happened to their visibility in March?
Unterkunft-de Searchmetrics unterkunft de

Unterkunft de Sistrix Visibility

Unterkunft de 1 Ranking verÑnderungen

Link Audit

Top 10 keywords

  1. Hotels
  2. Ferienwohnung
  3. Unterkunft
  4. Campingplätze
  5. Hotel in Berlin
  6. Campingplatz in Kroatien
  7. ferienhaus balearen
  8. familienurlaub costa brava
  9. ferienwohnung hannover
  10. allgäu wellness günstig

Top 10 competitors

  1. airbnb.de
  2. pensionen-weltweit.de
  3. 9flats.com/de
  4. tourist-online.de
  5. booking.com
  6. pension.de
  7. holidayinsider.com
  8. deutsche-pensionen.de
  9. hotels-pensionen-online.de
  10. hotel.de

Are anchor texts overdone?

Yes, and here’s what I found:

From 2,923 domains that are linking to “Unterkunft.de,” more than 34% of all their links have the hard Money-keyword “Hotels” in the anchor text. Also, it is interesting to note that these links have more than average LRT Power*Trust. The site has too many strong links.

Link anchors grouped by Power*Trust

Unterkunft de 2 Anchor Overview

When grouping anchor texts by link-count, we see another interesting development: tons of cheap links pointing to the site that do not benefit them.

It looks like many links were purposefully built for “billigflüge buchen” (German for “book cheap flights”) and “hotels weltweit” (German for “hotels worldwide”), but these links are not providing any trust at all.

Unterkunft de 3 Anchor Overview

Did the websites have more LRT Power than LRT Trust?

No, the LRT Power and LRT Trust ratio is balanced. Competitors like 9flats and hotels-pensionen-online.de appear to have much bigger issues here.

Unterkunft-de Cemper Power Trust Ratio

 

Did they have too many sitewide links?

Yes, and they are overdone. Yet, sitewide links are common in this industry. Unterkunft.de has many sitewide links in its link graph.

Unterkunft de 4 Sitewide ratio

Did they have paid links?

Yes, absolutely. If someone needs a Wikipedia definition of “Toxic SEO Footer,” then this one would be it. All possible Money keywords are shown in a random list of links.

Unterkunft de Payed Links

http://www.4-deal.de/sguide/sget.php3?id=4deal&seite=software/kassensoftware.htm

More than 2,000 links were removed within the last month. We can only see them in Google’s Web cache.

Unterkunft de Payed Links removed

http://www.ostsee-ferienwohnungen.de/Sassnitz-Ruegen/89/454/index.php

he German-Hungarian Balaton-Zeitung has been identified as a link vendor in other LRT cases studies. From our observation, they do sell single article links and sitewide links. In this case, Unterkunft.de bought a sitewide link.

Unterkunft de Payed Links Balaton

http://www.balaton-zeitung.info/

Are their links’ Power*Trust distribution unnatural?

Yes, there are too many links with Power 1 and 2.

Unterkunft de Power

Are sneaky redirects involved?

Yes, they used several keyword domains to link to the portal.

ID Domain Link Source Link Target
1 http://www.campingplaetze.de/ Links from mobile phone link lists Redirect to unterkunft.de
2 http://fremdenzimmer.de/ Link from virus report Site Redirect to unterkunft.de
3 http://www.unterkunft.at/ Links from link exchange Redirect to unterkunft.de
4 http://www.uebernachtungstips.de/ Virus report link and forum link Redirect to unterkunft.de
5 http://www.unterkunft.com// 8,000 links from Unterkunft.de Redirect to unterkunft.de
6 http://zimmervermittlung.de// Links from cheap link directories Redirect to unterkunft.de

The SEO gains must have been limited, yet the negative side was significant. Using the http://uebernachtungstips.de/, they got tracked by bots that detected viruses on their domain and published status information. Bad neighborhood.

Unterkunft de 4 Rdrs from Domains

Unterkunft de 4 Rdrs from Domains from Virus Domains

http://lists.clean-mx.com/pipermail/viruswatch/20130805/077741.html
http://lists.clean-mx.com/pipermail/viruswatch/20131128/119543.html

Other links, later redirected to their site, come from a forum. The discussion is obviously fake and provides no benefit to human readers. These links are just built for Google.

Unterkunft de 5 Rdrs from Domains from Forums

http://forum.reiseservice.de/barcelona-t280.html

Links and Redirects from cheap directories

Unterkunft de 5 Rdrs from Domains from Directories

http://www.linksilo.de/tags/ferienwohnung

Is unnatural link growth involved?

No, when looking at their domain, there is no link growth. When comparing it to competitors, booking.com is leading the link growth by far. Looking at relative link velocity, we see that all their competitors are growing faster.

Regarding absolute link growth, there are discontinuous efforts on most domains.

Unterkunft de 1 Linkgrowth abs

Regarding relative link growth compared to all domains, booking.com is fastest.
Unterkunft de 2 Linkbuilding Max
Important note: it makes sense to re-run the Competitive Link Velocity tool using the “compare by all domains” option. Doing so shows that booking.com really stands out with their link growth, and we lose details on the smaller sites.

Regarding relative link growth compared to unterkunft.de, all competitors are growing faster.

Unterkunft de 3 Linkbuilding relative

Are link networks involved?

Yes, there were several link networks, including one created on Tiscover sites. Another one is running on self-hosted sites that run on the same servers.

Examples for the Class-C Network
Several sites are hosted on the same infrastructure, but with different outgoing links to the target sites.

Unterkunft de 0 Link Network

Unterkunft de 0 Network same IP

The sites also have some kind of SEO footprint.

Unterkunft de 0 Same IP SEO Text

http://www.freie-ferien-wohnung.de/ferienwohnungen_italien.html

The Tiscover link network
Tiscover, a well-known tourism platform, built a very visible link network using their clients’ sites. Yet, they did not want to translate the anchors.

Unterkunft de 3 LinkNetwork BadQuality Tiscover Linknetwork

http://www.bauernhoferlebnis.at/at/xlayout/portal/accommodation/53667at,cs/objectId,ACC992268at/home.html

Unterkunft de 1 Same IP SEO Text Footer

http://www.haus-burger.at/at/xlayout/guide/122224at,cs/objectId,HDP999328at,r,RGN100292at,season,at1/detail.html

Unterkunft de 2 Same IP SEO Text Footer

http://www.ferienhaus-hartweberhof.at/at/guide/110505at,de,SCH1/objectId,ACC992268at,curr,EUR,folder,links,hdpId,HDP1083555at,season,at2,selectedEntry,home,tis.byp,hdp/links.html

Is there a strange country ratio?

No, the distribution was even and normal for a German site.

Unterkunft de Country Distribution

Is there an unnatural deep link ratio?

Unterkunft de Deeplink ratio

Did the websites have an unnatural link status ratio?

Yes, the other sites had about 20% “no-follow” links. Unterkunft.de only had 2%. This is obviously a bit strange.

Unterkunft de Link Status Ratio

Did the websites have a high link detox risk?

Yes, the site has a high link risk with more than 700 deadly links at an anchor classification level of 100%.

Unterkunft de 1 Unterkunft de Dtox Overview

Unterkunft de 2 Dtox Keywords

Unterkunft de Dtox Table

Rule Links Percentage
TOX3 593 5.2%
The Link Detox Genesis™ algorithm classified this link as highly unnatural. We recommend removal or disavow.
TOX1 90 0.8%
Domain is not indexed in Google. Usually a sign for a penalty.
SUSP9 795 6.9%
Domain has the same DNS as other linking domains – possible Link Network.
SUSP8 496 4.3%
Domain has the same Class-C as other linking domains - possible Link Network.
SUSP7 405 3.5%
Domain has the same IP as other linking domains - possible Link Network.
SUSP4 459 4%
Domain's homepage has TitleRank-home™ 30+, LRT Power*Trust™ Domain < 5 and LRT Power*Trust™ < 5.
SUSP31 2,328 20.3%
Anchor Text placement looks suspicious.
SUSP30 142 1.2%
Link with Anchor Text classified as Brand, Money or Compound coming from a potentially Spammy Forum.
SUSP24 730 6.4%
Domain has the same Website Footprints as other linking domains - possible Link Network.
SUSP23 1,658 14.5%
Domain has the same Website Footprints as other linking domains - possible Link Network.
SUSP22 589 5.1%
Domain has the same Website Footprints as other linking domains - possible Link Network.
SUSP20 901 7.9%
High Risk score associated with URL
SUSP2 399 3.5%
Domain has no LRT Power*Trust™ Domain - probably a new or very weak domain, or a penalty. Read more
SUSP19 272 2.4%
Old domain with no homepage PageRank™. Read more
SUSP14 279 2.4%
Page has no PageRank™ but at least some weak links. Read more
SUSP10 122 1.1%
Domain has Link Velocity Trend < -70% – probably part of an Expired Domain link network or a domain that the public has lost interest in.
SUSP1 995 8.7%
Page has no LRT Power*Trust™ and LRT Power*Trust™ Domain < 5 – a page without external links on a weak domain.

Did the websites have a high link competitive detox risk?

No, the detox risk overview was increased, yet still shows “Moderate Risk.”

Unterkunft de CDTOX 1 Table

Unterkunft de CDTOX 2 Bows

From the keyword chart it’s obvious there are too many Money keyword anchors in place.

Unterkunft de CDTOX 3 Keyword

There are many links with a suspicious categorization.

Unterkunft de CDTOX 4 Dtox

That is also why there are more moderate, deadly and very deadly anchors.

Unterkunft de CDTOX 5 Dtox Risk

Specifically, Rule 31 (low trust for the environment) is very high.

Unterkunft de CDTOX 6 Rule

Results Analysis

ID Task Result
1. Anchor Text Analysis Yes, overdone
2. Power & Trust Balance Analysis More Power, but okay
3. Sitewide Links Analysis Yes, overdone
4. Paid Links Analysis Yes, paid links
5. Power*Trust Ratio Analysis More Power links
6. Redirect Analysis Yes, some redirects
7. Link Growth Analysis Yes, visible growth
8. Link Network Analysis No, there was no network
9. Country Ratio Analysis No, all nice
10. Deep Link Ratio Analysis Yes, everything is deep link
11. Link Status Ratio Analysis Yes, 400 links gone
12. Link Detox Risk Analysis Yes, high risk
13. Competitive Link Detox Risk Analysis against competition No, moderate detox

Conclusion

Unterkunft.de had many Money keyword anchors for their site. Most significantly, they overdid the keywords “hotels” and “cheap flights.” These links were significantly fueled by sitewide links. Several thousand links were recently removed.

The second issue was that they used cheap press portals, and that they had expensive press coverage or paid links in expensive environments.

We found several networks that appear to be very harmful for their site. Other, smaller issues include redirects and appearing on a virus watch list that used to monitor toxic sites.

Bonus:
One of Unterkunft.de’s competitors was pretty shady as well. Pensionen-weltweit asked his Twitter followers to participate in Google AdSense click schemes.

Unterkunft de Bonus Adsense Clickexchange

He even built some backlinks for this system.

Unterkunft de Bonus Adsense Clickexchange 2

This case study was written by Guntram Bechtold of StarsMedia IT Management KG, and proud user of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox.

Certified LRT XpertA word from Christoph C. Cemper
This analysis is part of a series by our newly Certified LRT Xpert, Guntram Bechtold.

Guntram demonstrated his expertise in doing a deep dive on why Unterkunft lost so much search visibility. It’s one of five studies he did for his Xpert certification.

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 Guntram Bechtold as the latest Certified LRT Xpert 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 and Xperts are key to achieving this goal.

I look forward to Guntram’s future work, and I personally recommend working with him whenever you get the opportunity.
Certified LRT Expert Guntram Bechtold

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Guntram Bechtold
Founded StarsMedia.com in 2011, a SAASoftware and Project-Management Company. Being Project Manager for Yumpu.com, i-Magazine’s Selfservice Publishing Platform with readers from 180 Countries world wide, the StarsMedia is specialized on Online Marketing Consulting for established Onlineplayers and Startups. Guntram is certified Scrum Master, LRT Certified Professional and graduated. Industrial Designer, living in Dornbirn, Austria
Guntram Bechtold

5 Comments

  1. @seonational on May 13, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Reservation Denied! Unterkunft.de Loses Search Visibility – http://t.co/xBPKIs30c1

  2. @Webstandard on May 13, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Reservation Denied! Unterkunft.de Loses Search Visibility http://t.co/B0eec4yVST via @cemper

  3. @PageRankSEO on May 13, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Reservation Denied! Unterkunft.de Loses Search Visibility /by @guntrambechtold on @lnkresearchtool http://t.co/LqjKJT03nH #search_visibility

  4. @Daimo on May 14, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Most comprehensive study on dodgy SEO, great: Unterkunft.de Loses Search Visibility http://t.co/D1cQwjiekD via @cemper

  5. @9pmPST on June 2, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Reservation Denied! Unterkunft.de Loses Search Visibility http://t.co/TfkONRejtR via @cemper

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