here is the situation: I rented a couple of backlinks from a niche related site one year ago. What I didn't realize back then: The website is penalized. It is still indexed in google but does not rank for its main keywords. It does not even rank high for the domain name. I asked the owner later if his website was penalized and he admitted it. So the penalty is confirmed information. After one year he asked me if I wanted to extend the links (I rented over 12 months). I said no of course because I think it is not good to have several links from a penalized website. Also the links were quite expensive. Some more details: I have around 20 landing pages for different keywords on my site. The ranking showed a slightly positive trend for almost all keywords over the past months. The trend was stable though, no weird dance. So what happened now after the links were removed: My ranking dropped for specifically those keywords / landing pages where I had those backlinks pointing to before. So is it possible that backlinks from a penalized website still have their full power and therefore I lost my ranking when I got them removed???