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International marketing agency removes toxic backlinks and restores domain authority of a leading slot games news site

Success story

“It can be easy to overlook a toxic link within a large portfolio - thanks to SEMrush’s functionality, nothing slips through the net.”
Cosmin Mesenschi, SEO Outreach Specialist, Catena Media

About Catena Media:

Catena Media specializes in lead generation within the iGaming and Financial sectors. Founded in 2012, the company operates from offices in Malta (HQ), UK, Serbia, Japan, Sweden, USA, and Australia. Catena Media’s ever-growing product portfolio has over 5 million monthly visits spread across their sites.

Business Challenge: clean backlink profile and effective link building

The company’s Maltese team focuses on optimizing the websites of clients and their own brands in terms of off-page activities: anything from PR campaigns to building strong relationships with journalists, publishers, agencies, and webmasters. Link building is one of Catena Media’s primary ways of growing search traffic and authority, so having reliable and effective backlink tools has always been their priority.
JohnSlots.com is one of the first brands created by Catena Media back in 2013. The website features news, guides, and reviews of online casino games. In 2017 Catena Media relaunched the brand and introduced English, German, and later Spanish versions. However, in the next two years, the website went through a series of negative SEO attacks and its performance dropped dramatically.
The Catena team started a link-building campaign for JohnSlots in July 2019 in attempts to restore its position as one of the top players in the market for slot games in the UK and internationally.

Solution: SEMrush Backlink Audit and On-Page SEO Checker for link building

Catena Media started by reviewing JohnSlots' existing backlinks and developing a strategy for a rich and clean backlink profile.
Using SEMrush, the Catena team conducted:
Site Audit;
Gap Analysis;
Competitor Research;
Backlink Audit.
 
Cosmin Mesenschi, SEO Outreach Specialist at Catena Media, says there are a plethora of methods on how to use SEMrush for off-page SEO and link building specifically. The agency has found On-Page SEO Checker to be one of the most beneficial SEMrush features and has used it for JohnSlots and other sites from their UK portfolio.
“This tool helps us put together a roadmap for a brand and define focus points. Here we find content ideas and backlink opportunities for a specific page: the tool analyzes the links our competitors have and shows opportunities for our brands. This doesn’t mean your site should have the exact same backlink profile as your competitors, but it’s a good place to start: it’s always helpful to know what’s working for them and what can be improved in your brand strategy,” says Cosmin.
Next, the Catena team reviewed the suggested links and picked the most relevant domains for JohnSlots.
“On-Page SEO Checker suggests some backlink opportunities we might not have stumbled upon during our normal outreach activities. This has an immense impact on the performance of a page,” says Cosmin. 
Enriching page content through the tool’s Semantic suggestion feature has also led to improvements for JohnSlots. This optimization can be especially critical when trying to climb up from the lower positions to the top of the SERP and can have a huge impact on conversions and traffic.

The most critical aspect of the strategy was improving the overall backlink profile and making sure they eliminate the effects of the negative SEO attacks. Catena Media uses the SEMrush Backlink Audit tool to help spot any potentially toxic links to clients’ sites. The agency makes sure they keep up to date with disavowing across projects when needed.

In the Backlink Audit dashboard, the Catena team checks all the referring domains and anchor texts that are pointing back to a client’s domain, their values, type, and if a certain website is toxic for the client’s brand.

Cosmin enjoys the convenience of having all backlink information in one place, easy to understand, manage, and investigate if needed. When the Catena team spots a backlink that should be disavowed, they select and send the link or entire domain to the disavow list.
Once the audit is done, the team downloads the txt disavow file and uploads it to Google. Easy-peasy!

Results

83% organic traffic growth in four months
Thanks to the optimization done on-page and to the links gained through this period, JohnSlots has seen a very positive upturn, which was partially aided by the latest Google Algorithm Update released in May 2020. In fact, their organic sessions have increased by 83.63% compared to the first quarter of 2020.
The Catena team credits these positive results to the thorough market and competitor analysis in terms of backlinks and trends detected using SEMrush, as well as keeping a vigilant eye on any toxic links and proactively disavowing them. This alongside the team’s hard work has really paid off for their product on the SERPs!
Improved toxic link score
Catena Media uses SEMrush to stay on top of their brands’ backlink profiles with the Backlink Audit tool and integrated emailing system.
“We find it incredibly useful since we have a variety of products across multiple markets. It can be easy to overlook a toxic link within a large portfolio - thanks to SEMrush’s functionality, nothing slips through the net,” says Cosmin. “We find ourselves in quite a competitive niche, negative SEO attacks are rather commonplace, so we are constantly and proactively analyzing our links and can immediately remove those toxic connections to our sites.”
High domain authority
Catena Media was able to re-establish the authority of JohnSlots, making it one of the top players in the slot game market and a trusted source for its users.
“We are very proud of the work our team has managed to achieve, with the help of SEMrush. With high value and intent keywords such as ‘comparing slots’ and ‘casinos online’, it seems that JohnSlots continues to be an authoritative source for our user base,” concludes Cosmin.
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