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Home » Case studies » How to Avoid a Link Building Scam and Penguin 2.1 Penalty

How to Avoid a Link Building Scam and Penguin 2.1 Penalty

Our 4th Penguin 2.1 case study. This SEO link audit looks into one of India’s top SEO and Online Marketing Services companies –, which appears to be providing spammy SEO strategies to its own clients. LRT Certified Professional, Guntram Bechtold, shows you how to avoid a Penguin penalty.

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WARNING: 16,523 Toxic Links on Sale at

I'm proud to present our fourth Penguin 2.1 case study, written by our LRT Certified Professional, Guntram Bechtold, who is the Lead Associate at!

This case study will look into a top SEO and Online Marketing Services company located in India - Guntram takes a different approach in this case study by analyzing the client list of Think Business Solutions.

It is amazing to see an SEO Agency actually putting their own clients into Penguin penalties. Take a look for yourself and see what kind of SEO scams still exist today. And make sure you follow Guntram's recommendations on avoiding and getting rid of Penguin 2.1

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

- Enjoy & Learn!

Christoph C. Cemper 

Table of Contents


Looking closer at a link selling scam from India.

I regularly get unsolicited E-mails, you can also call it SPAM, to my personal Business E-Mailadress. On the 21st of October, I received the following E-Mail from offering me “Ethical SEO” to increase the rankings of my website.


Looking a little bit deeper, the Vendor sent me an offer and instantly added a 25% rebate. Not necessarily very trustworthy to send an offer plus 25% rebate on the first e-mail. The tactic reminds me of us car dealers, that give you back $500 ( when you buy a new Toyota.


Facts about Think Business Solution

Think Biz Solution is located in Nodia, India and offers SEO and Online Marketing Services.
They are also listed here, but have not been rated yet:


The Product Packages

Back to Think Business Solutions, I checked out their Packages. Their products give the impression that you get a lot of everything, because the vendor has no clue what the client needs. The Packages are a basket full of SEO Magic. From Onpage Optimization, to Social Media, Usability and Linkbuilding.

The Fact that you get half your money back if Toprankings are not reached within 6 Months is an interesting claim: "In Case we fail to show improvement we will refund 50% of the Money. This applies on Silver, Gold & Platinum Packages only.”

Find out yourself which of customers below are eligible of that claim.


Most interesting sales claims are:

  1. Send TONS OF TRAFFIC to your website by using the power of our SEO packages
  • Comment: Let's see below
  1. All work done as per google panda and google penguin guidelines.
  • Comment: Let's see below
  1. ThinkBiz Solutions SEO Packages will make your website RISE TO THE TOP of all major search engines
  • Comment: Very Bold claim
  1. All Your Backlinks get indexed
  • Comment: What? Indexing Backlinks?
  1. All the links we build pass more link juice to your website
  • Comment: More than .. what?
  1. High Authority Relevant Links
  • Comment: Let's see below
  1. Increase your Ranking & Sales
  • Comment: Let's see below

Detailed Service Listing

Products and Services include, but are not limited to the following list. Dependent on the monthly plan picked, the client pays, $125, $225, $400, $700, or $1050. To see what features are included in each package please refer to the image attached.


  1. Preliminary SEO Check
  2. Detailed SEO Strategy & Plan
  3. Keywords Analysis Report
  4. Competitive Analysis Report
  5. Working with HTML Source Code
  6. Crawler Compliance Implementation
  7. Google XML Sitemaps
  8. Google Analytics Analysis


Cross Browser Compatibility

  1. Website Load Time
  2. Checking the Page Size
  3. Check the Broken Links
  4. Duplicate Content Checking
  5. RSS Feeds
  6. W3C Validation


Optimizing Title Tags and Meta Tags

  1. Robots.txt Optimization
  2. Optimizing Site Directory Structure & Navigation *
  3. Image Optimization
  4. Anchor Tag Optimization
  5. H1 / H2 Tag Optimization
  6. Existing Content Optimization
  7. Creation of new Optimized Pages (Additional Charges) *
  8. URL Mapping
  9. URL Rewriting


One Way Link Building

  1. "nofollow" Links Check
  2. Social Bookmarking
  3. Article Submission
  4. Article Social Bookmarking
  5. Press Release Submission
  6. Listing the Website Product in Google Merchant & Bing


Article Writing

  1. Press Releases Writing
  2. Website Content Publication *
  3. Home Page Content Publication *
  4. RSS News Feed Submission


Local Search Engine Submission

  1. Customer Review/Testimonial Submission
  2. Geo-Tagging
  3. Google Map & Wikimapia Updation


Creating Classified Ads for Service / Product Promotion

  1. Posting Each Classified Ad in Relevant Classifieds


Social Media Optimization

  1. Geo-Social Targeting Research
  2. Strategically Presence On Top Social Media Websites


Blog Setup

  1. Blog Optimization
  2. Blog Articles Writing
  3. Blog Submission
  4. Blog Commenting (do follow)
  5. Blog Feed Submission
  6. Forum Posting


Facebook Fan Page Creation

  1. Regular Updates
  2. Facebook Profile Avatar Design
  3. Facebook Timeline Design
  4. Facebook Apps Integration
  5. Facebook Page Likes / Fans


Twitter Page Creation

  1. Regular Updates
  2. Twitter Background Design
  3. Twitter Followers
  4. Twitter List Management


Google+ Page Creation

  1. Regular Updates
  2. Google Circle Adding


Linked In Account (Personal Profile)

  1. Profile Keyword Optimization
  2. Linkedin Company Page Creation
  3. Regular Updates


YouTube Channel Creation

  1. YouTube Background Design
  2. Video Submission
  3. Video Creation & Optimization
  4. Guaranteed Views
  5. Access to Premium Social Apps


Latest Online Marketing Trend Updation

  1. Website Designing Consultation
  2. Landing Page Analyzer
  3. Enquiry pages Review & Suggestion
  4. Enquiry Page Modification (If Required)
  5. Branding Development Consultation
  6. Social Reputation Monitoring
  7. Number Of Pages to be Optimized
  8. Google Penalty Link Removals
  9. Mobile Compatibility Modification
  10. Dynamic & E-commerce Optimization


Fortnightly Report

  1. Monthly Activity/SEO Ranking Reports
  2. Google Analytical Report
  3. E-mail/Call/Skype Support




Looking at the Links

From the 44 Clients presented as success stories at Think Business Solutions, several aspects were relevant to be checked:

What is their current success?

Are the rankings high, or were their projects hit by google penguin 2.0, penguin 2.1, and the humming bird algorithm update? This factor can be measured by applying the Sistrix visibility index or the search metrics visibility index. Both Services analyze search engine rankings from all over the world. Sistrix is analyzing 10 Billion Pages per month and tracks rankings for more several million top keywords worldwide. If a site has significant ranking, it should show up in Sistrix SI index or Search metrics Visibility index.

What is their Link profile?

Do these clients have common patterns? How do the “winners” look like, and is their success settled on a solid basis and long lasting? What about the losers: Do they have many links in common? Are there footprints visible? The thing that concerns me the most is Link graph health. So we checked the “Successful Case Studies of Clients” – During the study I thought we should rather call them Victims, but see for yourself.

The Client List of Think Business Solutions:


Grouping the Clients into “Success Categories”

Grouping the Sites into five categories: PRE-Penguin 2.0 Drop, Penguin 2.0 Drop, Penguin 2.1 Drop, No Drop, Recovered from Penguin.

  1. PRE-Penguin 2.0 Drop are all sites that lost ranking before 24. April 2013. Many of these Sites were hit by Penguin 1.1 on May 25, 2012.
  2. Penguin 2.0 ( Drop are all sites that were hit by the update on 24. April 2013.
  3. Penguin 2.1 Drop occurred on October 4, 2013
  4. No Drop would be that the site that was not affected by these updates.
  5. Recovered from Penguin are sites that were obviously hit but later regained rankings

PRE-Penguin 2.0 Drop


Short time rankings

Several sites got very short time rankings resulting from heavy and toxic link building. built links, ranked, and got crushed

melbournefooddistributors picked up links, ranked, and got terminated within weeks.

hongye had the shortest possible ranking period


After building some links, had a short time ranking in early 2013, and then getting terminated instantly

pfd-nz - In terms of SEO-Success, it appears that this business is its own best client. The linkbuilding tactics worked only for a short period of time. After January 2012, the site was practically invisible for people searching for that company on google

bankruptcyattorneytucson had a short time of raking after the links were built, and was terminated days later by google



Step by step intoxication for larger sites

Several sites got intoxicated step by step from bad links. They started well and then lost track step by step.
The more links were added, the worse it got. is possibly the site that suffered the hardest losses due to their seo activities. They had acceptable rankings until early 2012, then got really crushed by google

extremeoutdoorsupply was established okay, but then lost more and more rankings

rhythmboat was penalized by google for picking up links in late 2012

romancelatina was hit hard twice, once in early 2012 and next during 2012 for a final punch.

micromedinc had solid rankings, then step by step got pulled down by bad links

corplearning did pretty well in 2011, and steadily lost rankings from there

dinosaurcorporation started out pretty well and grinded its rankings down from there

menonlyweightloss had reasonable rankings in 2011 and 2012. And then got terminated.

matsd had limited rankings trough out early 2012 and fully lost them in late 2012

martx had nice rankings in 2011, beginning of 2012, and dropped from there



Penguin 2.0 Drop is possibly the perfect name for what this site experienced from early 2013 to penguin 2.0. Started out well and then...

24trauma got some links, gained rankings, was penalized, added more links, and was penalized more

northrydedentists got unranked by penguin 2.0

dial91 got fully hit at penguin 2.0 update

headbobble were engaged in heavy linkbuilding, ranking increased. All worked well until penguin 2.0.

lightpros built so fast that their site was hit before and during penguin 2.0

blackhorselimo built links, ranked and then got hit hard by penguin 2.0

yellowinch was hit hard during penguin 2.0

idating4you lost their ranking after penguin 2.0. Most likely from newly built links.



Penguin 2.1 Drop had only very limited rankings during penguin 2.0, yet they are fully gone with penguin 2.1

apollogatemotor had a short time of visibility at first through link building, and then lost practically all rankings permanently

sydneyeventphotography had relevant rankings until Penguin 2.0, and then really lost with google penguin 2.1 update

barbermall signed up for marketing, got links, got rankings, and then was banned. Permanently. Period.


merlebari got some links, got some rankings, then was crushed

imusmacabee added links, ranked, then got penalized

laser-hair-removal started their marketing and gained some rankings

kangenwellmalaysia built links several times, gained rankings, and then were hit again.

technicalprospects was working on link building several times until penguin 2.1 drew the final line

brodhagendentalcare got some links, ranked, and then lost its position immediately again

vokuz from Switzerland signed up, ranked, and was terminated

edenweb had several tries until penguin 2.1 brought a full stop

mygardengreen got short time rankings without sustainability



No Drop had no drop. But also no Rankings.

facelift-sydney most likely not yet visible



phoneguys lost some rankings in late 2012, yet it is on an up and downwards track.





Recovered from Penguin



Current TOX Levels

The first thing after looking at the Visibility is to take a look at the LRT DTOX Level. I’ve categorized 100% of both Keyword sets, since this is the best way to get a valid result. By manually reviewing every single anchor text, you begin to understand how the link graph is really set up. got a whopping DTOX Link Risk of 5325 and 312 top headed links. That’s quite a lot, when looking at the small number of Link and the high detox.


Yet equally poisoned is with a Link Risk of 4027, yet just 167 top headed domains. This site has significantly more bad neighborhoods than the other site, since only around the half of links were pointed to the domain, yet almost 80% of the risk was built up. Lets look a bit closer.


Yet even during Anchor text characterization, some things appeared strange:



And it even gets better:


So there are quite some shady anchor texts around.


Analyse the Google Link-network Footprint

How are Link networks identified? To uncover a Link network it is critical to find sites that got similar, suspicious links. This so called Neighbourhood indicates how reputable a site is.


In our Case, a total of 43 of all 44 Projects have 135 Links in Common. That’s huge, considering most sites in this case study don’t have many more links than that.

To analyze this, I’ve used the Common Backlink Tool (CBLT) and added all Domains to the tool. In my test, I’ve analyzed 22 Sites.


In this result Screen, you see that I have selected all Domains that got a link to all 22 Sites in Total.



Lets check Some Link sources

Looking at some Pages, it’s obvious that these are seo directories of lowest quality, or as Matt Cutts would call it, “Pure Spam”.

Even worse is the fact that the sites are obviously selling links – at least there is a strong indication towards that, since average site owners rarely do side-wide links for casino pages. The variety of topics and the keyword-phrased titles add weight to the penguin penalty of these sites.


This Link network makes two facts crystal clear:

  1. Every single Customer of TBS is in bad neighborhood and therefor gets penalized.
  2. Every future Customer of Think Business Solution is doomed to penguin penalty.

Vendor Links his Clients into Penalty

Even worse is the fact that TBS is dipping each new client manually into this link network penalty by linking all case studies as showcases from their website. 44 Clients with one shot.



Competitive Link DTOX

Let’s take a look behind the scenes: 11 Sites and their Lind Detox Risk Levels


We see in CDTOX that there is a significant leap towards brand and money keywords. Practically none of the candidates have compound or other keyword anchor texts. What we see as well is that the sites are very close, due to the fact that they all have almost the same link graph.


From the Metrics Comparison by Detox, we see that more than 50% of all links are toxic for the 10 analyzed sites.


When looking into the Detox Risk, we see that around 50% of all Links are deadly and 30% least moderate Risk.



Toxic Link Examples

During the Case study, a hand full of evil link sources surfaced.

  1. Blog posts
  2. Directory
  3. Profile Spam
  4. Mega Link Pages
  5. Blog Comment Spam
  6. Voting Directory Spam


Random Blog posts on random sites, scattered around the web, on various topics.
At least in this case the male author got an interesting profile image.



Typical, old fashioned directory spam like



At least this admin talks about things he should have been doing ever before starting to blog.



This Mega Link Page with 2160 Links on a single html file is definitely no place you want to have your site linked from



Blog Comment Spam with paid links inside the blog post



Even hands full of automatically generated pages are part of the think business solution’s link horror show.



Digg has been closed decades ago, yet voting directory spam appears still fashionable



Bonus Material Number One:

During the research I’ve found the “ultimate SEO Blog Spam Scam”.
I’ve found Blog Spam for “Link removal Services” pointing to a Site that is claiming to defeat Penguin Penalties within a Network of sites that will actually make you take a nose-dive deep into a Penguin Penalty.
See for yourself: The Blog post is talking about Link removal. Please take a minute or two and read the text. It’s nothing less than hilarious.


Pointing to this site:


Managed by Canada Company “Webryze”


I would not suggest contacting Webrzye, unless you want to run into a penguin filter.


If you are Scion Automobiles, Walker Exhaust Systems,, zencart, RBC Insurance or Novotel Hotels you should consider to not talk to Usaf Sami Ghumman about Seo.


Bonus Material Number Two

US Republicans managed to get a grip on SEO during their fight against the Obama Healthcare plan. Too bad that they used a bad SEO company that not only intoxicated a whole bunch of SMBs on nose dive course. At least their 1200 word long seo text with no information is massive. The Link block in the middle of the article is equally massive.


Too bad that some of these Businesses have been paying their fees to the chamber of commerce in Virginia


Blog network of Down and Toxic sites


Take Aways:

From this Case study I’ve compiled the following take aways for my personal usage:

  1. A broken SEO Strategy can get worse with more bad SEO.
  2. Getting tons of online marketing services is not necessarily a good thing.
  3. Fast gain most likely leads to fast fail in seo
  4. Sites with bad links, like northrydedentists got instant success and instant failure
  5. Cheap links are typically bad links
  6. Easy links are typically bad links
  7. Once inside... a network is really killer dangerous
  8. When looking at SEO and Link building firms, ask for examples

Problems sorted by Priority

  1. Bad Link building
  2. See Point 1

Recommendations to avoid Penguin 2.1 from External Services

  1. Check your SEO Agency
  2. Double Check your SEO Agency
  3. Make sure they respect white hat SEO Rules and know about clean link building
  4. Make sure they avoid Link Networks
  5. Make sure they watch Ratios: Avoid a high number of Money KW Anchors
  6. Use Brand and Noise terms in Anchor Texts
  7. Never Buy Links
  8. Detox your site at least once a Month to stay up to date
  9. Activate E-mail notification for new links to see what is going on


LRT Certified Professional
This case study was written by Guntram Bechtold, Lead Associate at

A word from Christoph C. Cemper

This analysis was conducted and post written by LRT Certified Professional, Guntram Bechtold.

Guntram continues to show his expertise in doing a backlink profile and SEO audit using the LinkResearchTools, and pointed out quite a few critical issues to fix. I am excited by the detail and viewpoints Guntram brought up. Already a Certfied LRT Professional, Guntram has taken the next step towards the LRT Certified Xpert and LRT Certified Agency certification – part of an exclusive circle of experts with direct access to my team and getting leads from us at no charge.

The goal of our LinkResearchTools certification program is to provide our user community and clients a high quality service, and our certified experts are key to that.

I look forward to future work and personally recommend Guntram Bechtold to work with you whenever you get a chance!

LRT Certified Professional Guntram Bechtold

superhero smallWith the Superhero Plans you can perform link audits, link cleanup, link disavow boost, competitive research, professional SEO and backlink analysis for your own or your competitor's sites.

You can fix or avoid a Google Penalty! Learn more about how you can Recover and Protect with LRT.




Guntram Bechtold

Founded in 2011, a SAASoftware and Project-Management Company. Being Project Manager for, 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 


  1. Anthony Calleja Photography on January 11, 2014 at 04:12

    Aloha, My name is Anthony Calleja I was looking to see if any one would like to use my sites as a case study. I have a total of 6 sites.

    I use to have 174 first place ranking in google and about 550 visitors to my sites daily. Those numbers have dropped significantly and I am trying to see what recommendations you might have. I built all of my websites myself. Made some major changes to them in the last moth or so. They seem to be making a coming back. Thanks for your time.
    Look forward to your reply. Have a Great Day. Peace and Aloha, Anthony

    Anthony Calleja Photography

    • Guntram Bechtold on January 15, 2014 at 14:28

      Hello Anthony,

      There are two ways that come to my mind instantly:
      1.) All LRT Certified Professionals do offer this detoxation as product. Ask any one of us, or contact the Team at to help you find an Expert.

      2.) If you got a really outstanding Project, we can consider doing this a public casestudy. In this case, please get back to me: Please use the Contact form at and send us a message. I can take a look at it and talk to the Management at LRT what is possible.

      Best regards,

  2. Bolivar on January 12, 2014 at 15:18

    Yes I Have notice that all new websites can rank easily with a few links, but usually so called SEO Expert uses to many links and after a few days… Penguin.. and everything is lost

  3. Ron on January 14, 2014 at 20:10


    Great informative article very valuable reading for anyone thinking about hiring an outside SEO firm. I am taking up the superhero account at the end of the month when i have time work through it all.

    Was a bit thoughtful about you giving away 16,000 toxic links. Can these be used for negative seo? Is this a good thing.


    • Guntram Bechtold on January 15, 2014 at 14:31

      Hello Ron,

      Yes, technically this would be possible. On the other hand, you can see if any of These Links get back to your Website using the LRT and DTOX Tools. So if you would be affected, you can managed this using professional Tools.

      Best regards,

  4. @web_developerUK on October 9, 2014 at 10:04

    How to Avoid a Link #Building Scam and #Penguin 2.1 Penalty

  5. john on June 18, 2017 at 15:03

    Im not saying you are wrong because you have done research and sound very brainy. What i have found is that after google destroys your site if you leave it for a few months and do nothing your site gets it rankings back, this has happened to me three times now and every site came back. The first time it happened i hired a seo company and they destroyed my site with link spam. after about 3 months the website came back went to the top in the uk for the word printer cartridges and stayed there for 3 years. so guntram this is a fact so has i have said i am not disagreeing with you cause you know what you are doing, i am letting you know my experience with google.

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