Affiliate Marketing – The Smart Way

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How to Rank After Google Penguin – And How to Recover If Your Site Got Hit…

May 9th, 2012 · 116 Comments

Today’s blog post is of vital importance if you utilize Google’s organic SERPs as a traffic source.

Even if you’re not an “affiliate”, per se, but your business model in some way involves acquiring organic traffic from Google, then drop everything you’re doing and read this – because things have changed. And you need to either adapt, or find a new business model…

Ranking in the current environment (Post-Penguin) is a different game. Recovering in the current environment is… well… more on that below. The bottom line is that now, more than ever, you need to be building your OWN network of traffic. Your own audience. Ideally, one that’s Google-proof.

But that doesn’t mean that SEO is dead, or that the game is up. It’s not. It’s simply changed (or more accurately, is changing). And in fact, right now is a crucial moment in which you can actually use Google to “Google-proof” yourself, ironically. Again, more on that further down…

What follows are my own opinions into what has happened, what is happening, what is going to happen – and what you can do about it to stay above water, and even thrive. I am not an all-knowing demigod when it comes to SEO, but it has been my playground for several years, and I have enough sites that I can at least draw a few conclusions, or at the very least, make some half-decent guesses.

If for no other reason, you should really pay attention here, because I’m not some “in-Google’s-pocket” WhiteHat SEO douchebag who will simply parrot whatever Matt Cutts is saying on any given weekday. I play both sides, and I don’t have, or need, SEO clients. My advice is based solely on what I have done, and am going to do, to extract as much profit from Google’s organic listings as I possibly can. Take that for what it’s worth.


So let’s begin:

First Things First – The Fat Lady Has Not Sung

Anyone with half a brain can plainly see that Google’s current SERPs, spanning almost every vertical, are some of the lowest quality results that we’ve seen in years. Decades, even. There are literally forum profiles and empty blogspot/web 2.0 pages ranking for some of the web’s most competitive keywords in every major commercial market. (Don’t believe me? Take 20 minutes right now and run searches for every competitive keyword you can think of – make sure to turn off personalized results, and make sure you’re on

I’ve spent the past week pouring over hundreds SERPs, and I’m consistently seeing low-quality, and in many cases outright nonsense, ranking on Page 1 for basically any high-comp keyword. Of course, there’s the nearly-guaranteed presence of WikiPedia/Squidoo/eHow/YouTube/BlogSpot (and equvalents) across the gamut – irrespective of quality or even relevance. Clearly, the domain-authority filter has been jacked up, way too much.

Maybe that’s the “3%” that Matt Cutts had mentioned was affected by Penguin. Perhaps the other 97% of Google’s results comprise searches like “Why do hippies smell?”, “Who would win in a fight Chuck Norris or Moby?” and other completely unprofitable keywords that simply don’t matter, to anyone.

But as it stands, Penguin 1.0 is pretty atrocious. It wasn’t just “web-spam” that got hit in this update. Some did, but it was just as quickly replaced with more spam – much of it being worse than that which it replaced. In fact, something we’re seeing again and again is that scraper blogs are outranking the source sites, more than ever. This is insane.

More troubling is that many salt-of-the-earth publishers (like, DaniWeb, and countless others) were severely affected by Penguin. Sites that are in some cases over a decade old, comprised of thousands of pages of quality, unique content, and plenty of social/brand signals – and they’re tanking, hard. These are sites that provide an awesome user experience.

Google claims that they are rewarding high quality sites. Their SERPs make it clear that they are rewarding scrapers, irrelevant, outdated web 2.0 pages, generic “slightly relevant” domains, and YouTube.

Obviously, they haven’t got it right. So if Google has any intention of maintaining dominance with it’s only profitable space (search), this is far from over…

Will Google roll back Penguin? Not a chance. This is Panda all over again. They’ll just keep on making updates, tweaks, etc. So take heart!

We’re not out of the woods yet… and in this case, that’s most definitely a good thing.


Second – Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid…

Right now, much of the White-Hat community (SearchEngineWatch, WebProNews etc.) is simply parroting Cutts and talking about things like “keyword stuffing” and “link schemes”.

Obviously, what’s happened here with Penguin is a combination of corporate agenda (discouraging SEO, pushing more into Adwords out of necessity), a monumental screwup on the engineering front based on altruistic notions about ranking sites that “haven’t tried to manipulate their rankings”, and a giant can of worms known as “Negative SEO”.

So I have to laugh at some of the moronic advice I see being handed out by some of the industry’s most “respected” authorities. Particularly amusing are the glaring contradictions that these experts spout forth – seemingly without stopping to really consider them, first.

Perhaps the most annoying example is when [insert basically any WhiteHat blogger here] talks about how “Negative SEO” is a myth – and in the next breath, advises against building low-quality links, since Google might penalize that activity. (Hmmm…)

Some random examples of questionable logic from White-Hat “experts”, in no particular order:

“We want people doing white hat search engine optimization (or even no search engine optimization at all) to be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling web sites. As always, we’ll keep our ears open for feedback on ways to iterate and improve our ranking algorithms toward that goal.” ~ Matt Cutts

Here’s some feedback, Matt: If that’s what you want people to do, then how about actually rewarding them as a result? Instead of rewarding brands with thin content, scrapers/splogs, and YouTube videos?

 ”Don’t allow links from low-quality sites and networks” ~ Rosalind Gardner

That’s a nice delusion, Rosalind. You do realize, that people can go on and spend literally $5 to blast thousands of crap links at their competition, right? This is a serious issue, and it’s one that is currently unresolved. Yes, I believe that Google will eventually do something about it. But not until it starts to affect big brands. And that could take quite a while. Till then… good luck convincing Google’s pious spam team that a competitor is orchestrating a Neg SEO campaign against you.

“The guidelines have been around for a long time, and Google has enforced them for just as long. In that regard, the Penguin update is nothing new. It’s just that Google thinks it has a new way to better enforce the guidelines. You should expect that Google will only continue to improve, so your best bet is to simply abide. That is, if you care about your Google rankings.” ~ Chris Crum

Right… Because penguin was definitely all about “hidden text”. I’ll have to re-read those at some point, but apparently Google’s Guidelines must strongly endorse creating empty blogspot pages and scraping competitors…


Those are some examples of why you need to carefully draw your own conclusions, and not just blindly trust people who might seem like a “trusted authority”. Many of the so-called experts in this industry are either just some jackass who’s built a large following via JVs/product launches, salaried writers for publications, or people under too much political pressure to do anything aside from singing the party line (ex. well-known SEO firms, high-profile career WhiteHat bloggers, etc.)

Who should you be listening to?

People who either own or directly monitor hundreds of sites, and that’s it. Everyone else is just speculating and blowing smoke.

Speaking of which, there’s a few people like this who I do recommend that you listen to, and for exactly that reason. They are: Jon Leger, Aaron Wall, Jerry West and the good folks over at MicroSite Masters.

Let’s move on, and start digging into the really important stuff…


Assessing the Damage – What Did Penguin Really Target?

It’s hard to say for sure (yet), but there’s definitely some consistencies that we see across the board. Also, aside from being able to definitively see ranking drops on Apr 24th (Penguin’s confirmed rollout), it’s a bit mudded over, seeing as how there were substantial Panda updates on April 19th and April 27th as well.

But here’s what I can tell you…

My Own Data:

1) BlogNet & Obvious Link Buys From “Outed” Sites = Penalty. We only had a few sites get the “unnatural links” notice in WMT, and they were all (eventually) negatively affected. This was mostly predictable, as we’d heavily used blog network links and obvious site-wide link buys for these sites, from blogs that were clearly selling their PageRank. In cases when a WMT message was present, the penalty seems to have affected the whole domain, and it isn’t just a “discounting” of said links. It is actually a negative effect. Bad links, obviously, can outweigh good ones.

Therefore, Penguin/Panda/Whatever has opened a can of worms. Because it now means you can play “Duck Hunt” with Google’s SERPs.

2) Unexplainable Collateral Damage. This is really frustrating – the only sites that really got hammered were 2 of my true authority sites. Sites with linking profiles cleaner than Mother Theresa, and whose content is stellar. I think things are still in flux, and it’s too early to throw in the towel with them… but still. It’s pretty amazing, in a bad way. I truly and honestly have no idea why these sites are pushed in the background.

All I know is that I’m in good company… with several other legitimate publishers. Folks, I have no reason to embellish this at all. Remember that I’m proudly GrayHat and openly buy my rankings with smaller, disconnected sites. (And yet very few of them were seemingly punished… while my “real” sites are buried, at the moment. Insanity.)

3) Nonsensical (and Likely Temporary) Black Hat Rewards. I have sites from years ago that have SO much blackhat stuff going on (externally) that not only weren’t affected by Penguin, but which also shot up in the rankings. Although, admittedly, these rankings are volatile and change every day. Nevertheless, they’re getting tons of traffic right now. And from a “WebSpam” perspective, these should be nuked. Gone. Buried.

(Nope – that’s just the quality sites, I guess…)

4) Over-Eager Title Tags = Less Eager SERP Placements. We’re also seeing that sites with title tags directly targeting our primary keywords are not holding position. They’re losing rank to more “generic” or “loosely relevant” pages (in terms of evaluating their title tags).

5) Who Knew That Dropping an Anchor Could Sink a Ship? I’ve always varied my anchor text when backlinking, quite a lot actually. However, in the few cases where I didn’t (usually with throwaways or mini-sites), these have all taken hits. It seems like the affected pages have been relegated back in the SERPs anywhere from 1-5 pages. It’s not consistent. At least not with my relatively small pool of sites with heavily-similar anchored backlinks.

Also, it’s not clear whether this is a sitewide effect, or only something that only affects the page where the offending anchored-links point. In my limited test group, I see both of those results (page penalty only, sitewide penalty). Of course, the sitewide issues on these sites could be caused by the other factors mentioned here.

That’s what I’m seeing on my end, for what it’s worth.

Other People’s Data:

These are well worth looking at – after you finish reading this post. Here they are for your reference…

1) Jerry West’s Quick Analysis. 10 Second Summary: Sites that got hit consistently have uneven anchor text, too much keyword density onsite, low quality backlinks, internal dupe content/title tags, too many 404s

2) Jon Leger’s Take on Ranking Post-Penguin. 10 Second Summary: Authority (Web 2′s like blogspot) domains unfairly favored, uneven anchor-text is a problem, exact-match domains NOT targeted in/of themselves – only if overly anchored, “spam” links still working, ranking varies by keyword niche – do SERP research to determine winning profile for your niche.

3) MicroSite Masters In-Depth Analysis. This is probably the best data so far to surface Post-Penguin. 10 Second Summary: “Google is trying to replace or devalue “anchor text” use with “niche/content relevancy of linking sites” as a primary link relevancy, (or “quality”) signal.”

Basically folks – the big takeaway is that Google is currently seems to be rewarding brands, authority domains, sites with links from “relevant” sources, and sites that are only “somewhat” gunning for a given keyword.

Will it hold? Not in its current form – the SERPs will eventually start to piss off even the average joe surfer. (Which is already happening, to an extent). But I believe the overall principle is one that won’t be going anywhere…

Google is obviously, desperately trying to use other signals apart from backlinks/anchors to determine relevance. They didn’t get it right this time. However – this direction is one they won’t stop pursuing. In other words – now would be a good time to stop ordering 10,000 anchored link blasts to your mini-sites…


So… What Now?

How the Hell Do I Rank in Google, Post-Penguin?

(And How Can I Rescue Sites That Got Whacked?)

Even though the dust hasn’t yet settled – and it’s almost as certain as death, taxes and Dolph Lundgren starring in another B flick that Google will be rolling out a plethora of Penguin updates…

…what’s clear is that, if anything, right now Google seems to be rewarding a degree of “restraint”. Less appears to be “more”, in the SERPs.

However, you can’t paint every vertical with the same brush. There’s still plenty of stuff ranking based on nothing more than mass spamming, obvious paid links, and even some other variation of BlogNet links/spun content. Sure, it could be temporary fodder that’s simply been propped as a default effect of its previous, better-ranking competitors being condemned to oblivion. But it also shows us that Google is far from catching “webspam” universally.

It almost seems to be a different set of rules for each market. (Maybe it is?)

So what’s the way forward with ranking new sites?

I think the key to success right now is twofold:

1) Tread Lightly. What’s obvious is that Google is attempting to discourage “obvious manipulation” through the use of heavy-handed penalties. This includes things like uneven anchor text, over-optimization (onpage), unnatural backlinks, uneven backlink relevance. It could also possibly include things like uneven NoFollow/DoFollow ratios, having too many of the same types of links, and so on. I have no data to back that up, but it does follow the logic.

Therefore, I strongly recommend “keeping it natural”, and building a few good links rather than several “so-so” links. Diversity is also key. Spread the net, and don’t just build one type of backlink. (I’ll get into specifics further down.)

2) Copy Success & Run Low-Risk Experiments. The truth is that right now your guess is probably just as good as mine! Low-risk, research-based experimentation is going to be the key to finding your way (up) in any given market right now. Take a look at who’s ranking. Use ahrefs and OSE to find out what they’ve got for backlinks. Look at their title tags, their site structure, and their content. And go from there.

(By the way folks, the above is the foolproof, never-fail formula to SEO, by the way. And it’s hiding in plain sight.)

Now – I’m going to talk about some “traffic band-aids” just below this (for established sites that have been sucker-punched by the Penguin), but for now, here’s the extent of my knowledge as it pertains to recovering from Penguin…

So… how can I get my rankings back?

The first thing to do is to honestly assess your link profile. Onsite and onpage factors really don’t matter. Those things are easily remedied. It’s your backlinks that determine your options, right now.

We know, for sure, that Penguin (or something – Penguin, Panda, April’s 50 updates – whatever) is slamming sites that have too many anchored backlinks, too many links from bad neighborhoods, BlogNet links, obvious link-buys, etc. Keep in mind that not every site that’s been hit has received an “unnatural links” notice in WMT…

So, for this reason, if you reasonably believe that you can feasibly “clean up” your backlink profile by removing or pulling down your potentially “offensive” backlinks, then your site is likely salvageable.

On the other hand, if you fall into the unfortunate category of people who built backlinks very aggressively in the past, pointed directly at your money site (or – gasp – your authority site), then it may not be so simple, but there are still some options, which I cover below…

Finally, if you’re one of the many totally-above-board publishers (like that have been slammed by Penguin for truly no apparent reason – and have nothing to hide – then you should file a reconsideration request, submit this “I was unfairly affected by Penguin” form, and consider publicizing your case on Google’s webmaster forums. And then wait patiently – while at the same time, taking some of the advice I’ve dispensed further down…

At the very least – regardless of whatever category of victim you fall under – the good news is that you certainly aren’t alone. This is far from an isolated case, and for what it’s worth, “we’re all in this together”.


Your patience and loyal readership has paid off, friend. In addition to receiving a cookie (literally), you’ve also finally reached the part where I start to dole out actionable shit…


Here’s Exactly What I’m Doing

Take it With a Boulder of Salt…

Again, I have to make it very clear that I’m not an SEO wizard. Nobody is, right now. Even the people who think they’re real smart for not getting taken out in these last few updates, will likely be swallowing their words a few weeks from now, whilst shitting bricks, sewing together a Google Voodoo Doll, and popping valium.

So, what that means is that just because what follows is my own plan… that doesn’t mean it’s the answer to all of our prayers, or that it is guaranteed to do anything. I generally have a pretty good track-record in terms of success with organic strategy, but hey – I sure didn’t see the Penguin coming…

Therefore, don’t just follow me blindly – we could both very well end up falling into a pit. Do your research, and make your own decisions (and take responsibility for them).

With all that said – here’s what I’m doing:

I want to first begin with my recovery strategies, as I actually fall into each of the three “victim classes” that I itemized above. I will lay out my recovery plan for each victim profile…

* My Recovery Plan for Salvageable Sites

For these sites, obviously, the first move is to go and axe backlinks that are either a potential cause of the ranking loss – OR – could become a liability, even if they aren’t the current cause. Essentially, I’m going to pretend that I’m working through a reconsideration request, and doing “good-faith” efforts.

Then, I’m going to audit the site itself thoroughly. Look for crawling errors, potential internal dupe content/tags, jack up the site loading speed as much as possible, look at any potential keyword density issues, over-use of internal anchors, sitewide or footer links out to other websites – and so on.

Then, with my remaining backlink profile, I’m going to use Ahrefs, Majestic, or OSE (possibly all 3) to take a close look at my anchors. I may have to work on diluting my overall % of anchored links by building/adding naked links or d0main-brand links (which I would do with press releases and submission to relevant directories in my actual niche – not the typical dir submits… I’ll have to train someone).

Naked links look like this:

Branded-anchor links look like this: Chris Rempel

My ideal “anchor ratio” (both for salvaging sites, and going forward for any new authority site) is as follows:

–> 30% naked links

–> 30% brand-anchor links

–> 30% is a DIVERSE MIX of keyword anchor links. At least 10 variations per target (site, page, etc.)

–> 10% Misc/random (images, “click here”, etc.)

When I have roughly attained that type of BL profile, then I go into “slow burn mode”, which I’ve detailed further down. If I don’t see an improvement (after I’ve axed bad links, drastically improved anchor ratios, etc.), then I take the steps mentioned above for attempting to rescue a site that’s actually innocent.

* My Plan for Sites That I CANNOT Feasibly “Clean Up”

It’s basically a rite of passage as any SEO-driven affiliate worth his or her salt… Most of us have dabbled in Gray-Hat or Black-Hat stuff. If you haven’t, you’re probably a boring person, and stop at intersections if the lights so much as hint at turning yellow.

Anyway, the day of reckoning is upon us, and the deeds done in darkness are now exposed to the light. Even if these “deeds” are done by competitors, disgruntled employees, unwitting customers, etc. It doesn’t matter. The price is paid by the root domain, and its owner (you).

So you have 156,000 backlinks comprised of forum profiles, mass-comments, wiki posts, and spammy bookmarks? Unfortunately, with these sites – the fat lady has indeed sung. And your site is the proverbial champagne glass – shattering to the floor…

If you feel like tossing the dice, you can try to see how far you get with a re-consideration request. You have nothing to lose, and at the very least it’s worth a try. (Now – I should make it clear that I’m talking about sites with horrible BL profiles that have already been negatively affected. If you have NOT been penalized or kicked out the SERPs – then do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Ride the wave, my friend, for as long as it lasts, and stay under the radar as long as possible.)

If a re-con request doesn’t work (and it probably won’t), then here’s what I recommend, and what I myself will be doing in these cases…

–> Locate every scraper site and otherwise website that has copied any of your unique content and initiate a takedown campaign. Contact them with a Cease & Desist first. They will likely ignore it. When they do, send in a DMCA takedown order to their hosting company, and also file a DMCA with Google for that page.

Why? Because you’re going to be relocating your site’s content to a new domain, with no pre-existing authority or “claim” to the content. If you don’t wipe out as much of the scraped/copied content from around the web as possible, then Google will simply see your new domain as yet another scraper joining the party.

Anyway, after you’ve done all you can…

–> Turn your existing site into a one-page wonder, and remove all content, including your homepage content. Just have a notice like “this site is moving” or something. Let it sit like that for at least one month. Make sure your old pages are good and de-indexed (by using the command in Google’s search field), before proceeding.

–> Then, roll out your old content onto a new, fresh domain (or an aged one, whatever – just make sure it doesn’t have a “checkered past”), and then start fresh. I outline what I’ll be doing to “tread lightly” for new sites further down…

–> “To 301 redirect, or not to 301… that is the question”. Yeah. I don’t have an answer. I have a feeling that a 301 will pass the bad stuff just as easily as the good when it comes to transferring authority. My gut tells me to start completely fresh. But maybe I’m wrong. (If you have true data on this, please leave a comment).

Keep in mind that even with this “worst case scenario” for sites too far gone – ironically – you could quite plausibly fare better with this fresh-start-strategy than you might with orchestrating a full-recovery for sites that are salvageable. It remains to be seen, but if Google’s really and truly going to enforce the “less is more” mentality – it could very well be the case.

It’s something to consider.

Well, that about covers my plans for recovering some of my sites (the ones worth recovering).

Now – let me share with you how I’m planning on building links in the Post-Penguin-Apocalypse, as well as some other cool stuff that you might like if generating shitloads of traffic tickles your fancy…

In fact, let’s turn this into a new section. Just for fun.


A Fancy New Section:

My Primary Strategy, Post-Penguin?

“Churn and Earn, Baby!”

If there’s one thing Google has communicated loud and clear through all of this insanity – it’s that they’re not afraid to sacrifice quality SERPs to make a point.

The problem is, though – those “points” keep on changing. Remember when directory submission was kosher? Remember when article marketing was considered White Hat? Remember when rel=”nofollow” didn’t exist? Remember when PageRank sculpting was actually encouraged?

Now, all of those things are “bad”. And they’re incurring penalties – retroactively! It’s madness. (It’s stupid.) And it’s putting people out of business, overnight. Now – before the “Google doesn’t owe you anything” comments start spouting forth – keep in mind that the vast majority of sites out there are legitimately trying to do everything right. And a lot of them just got hammered – either because what was “right” 5 years ago is “evil” now. Or even just for no apparent reason.

Regardless, I guess what I’m trying to say – is that Penguin has shown us that nothing can save you. Not “great content”, not a “good user experience” – nothing. And nobody is safe. Except for brands, Google Properties (YouTube, Blogger) and Wikipedia.

So where does that leave us?

It’s simple. It means that SEO is now a numbers game, and your safety is earned by way of diversity at every level. And when I say “diversity”, I’m especially talking about domains, and the backlink profiles thereof.

This means that instead of walking into a niche with 1 domain and building a nice 100 page site, it means that you walk into that market with 10 domains, with 10 pages per site – and where you build 10 different backlink profiles for each site. (Even if only slightly different).

This gives you the ability to switch it up – and you’ll likely end up netting far more traffic as a result, anyway. Myself, what I’ll be doing is as follows…

Especially at first, I’m going to be treating these new rollouts as tests. Experiments. For one site, I’ll basically only build links using press releases. For another, only article marketing. For another, only blog nets. For another, only niche directories. For another, only guest posting.  For another, only Web 2.0′s. And so on/so forth.

I might even try doing ONLY social signals, and see what happens…

I still think EMD’s (exact match domains) are very powerful, and we will continue to buy/use them, because ranking them is much easier. Even if it’s not exact-match, having at least part of the KW in the domain is still going to help.

Bottom line – right now, it’s important to find out what the Penguin “likes”. And my guess is, this probably varies a little bit from one market to another. But still, there will be universal consistencies – and those are the things we can then focus on as a primary source of links in our future BL profiles.

Again, guys – I can’t stress it enough – spread out your risk. Both in terms of sites, and tactics. The only reason I’m still sitting pretty is because I have enough crap out there that, purely by way of chance/odds, only some of it tanked. If I’d only had one or two major sites or sources of income, things would not be too rosy right now…

So let’s take a moment and get specific about backlinks, Post-Penguin.

Here’s how I’m going to be building my links from this point forward…

“Safe” Links:

This is the stuff that’s safe for virtually any site, including authority sites. The key is to slow-burn. Don’t go crazy. A few links a day is all you need.

1) Press Releases. Still effective, and totally defensible. We use PRLog (free, meh), PRLeap ($69, not bad), Press Release Monkey ($100ish, pretty solid) and eReleases ($399, tons of exposure and authority linkjuice). Use each service according to your budget and objectives. For micro sites or niches that aren’t really that competitive, you don’t need to pull out the big guns.

2) Guest-Posting: This is the next big thing. It will likely become abused fairly soon. My suggestion is to ride the wave right now, and if you can, try to stick to the bigger/better sites. To find blogs to post on, do some Googling for “your niche + guest blogger”, and variations thereof. There’s sites everywhere, in most niches.

Also, there’s some really awesome networking resources for guest posting that have popped up. The most popular by far is Ann Smarty’s MyBlogGuest. Another up-and-comer showing a lot of promise is Duncan Carver’s Content Facilitator (say that one ten times)…

3) Real, Conversational Commenting. It’s still very effective, and these are natural as can be. Only post a few comments per day. Don’t use anchors as, or in, your posting name. Only link to your root domain, or else your comments will go straight to akismet’s spam box. Switch your “name” up a bunch, if you’re in a niche where you don’t have to be “you”. And honestly, post as many NoFollow comments as you do “live” links. Link Diversity is paramount. Of course, you can use my service, ActuallyRank, to locate DoFollow commenting opps.

4) Niche Directories. These are real sites in your industry/market that have a directory or profile page for other sites, like yours. An example is, which is a directory of tech companies. Another example is You can’t go and outsource this on Fiverr. You need to do it yourself or train someone to find good, quality sites like this and get your site listed. As a side note, the only generic directories I would bother with for an authority site are and Yahoo DIR.

5) Real, Actual Press (Authority Sites Only). This means emailing big sites, editors, journalists, etc. Maybe using HARO, etc. You need to actually have something, though. I don’t think MFA sites will cut it…

“Experimental” Links:

This is the kind of stuff that you ONLY use on mini-sites. And this can also include YouTube videos, Web 2.0 pages and Free Blogs (Blogspot, etc.). And I suggest that you run these as isolated tests, so as to not compromise time or $$ spent on any of the above “Safe” linkbuilding.

Myself, I actually put my authority sites on totally different servers as well (not just IPs) – just to keep them far removed from this stuff…

1) True, Private Blog and Homepage Networks. I’m not going to recommend any, or tell you which ones I use, thus defeating the purpose. Don’t go and join the most popular thing you see all over the various IM/SEO forums out there. Instead, seek out the really exclusive stuff. The more obscure, the better. Heavily vary your anchor text, and use naked/brand links as well on BlogNets.

2) Direct Link-Buys. There are many ways to buy links “naturally” from other sites. Lots of sites in most niches sell banners and text ads, and you’d be surprised how many people still don’t even know what “nofollow” is. Also, money is the great motivator when it comes to making exceptions. I would strongly suggest, at this point, that you only buy links from sites that are at least partly relevant. It only takes a handful to make a huge impact.

3) Tiered Linking Structures. This is where you go and put up, say, 10 very high quality, in-depth Web 2.0 pages (that both promote affiliate offers AND link to your minisite), and then aggressively hammer them with links to inflate the importance of the page. In general, pointing hundreds, or even thousands of backlinks at a hosted page on an very established Web 2.0 or Wiki site isn’t going to raise any flags, and you’re essentially multiplying the power of each backlink you’ve built to your own site.

In this example, you’ll have netted 10 very strong links, as well as built 10 additional traffic sources. It’s risky because your content can be pulled down at any time by the host site (especially if you get overly aggressive with links/traffic). Also, be sure to carefully read each site’s TOS to make sure you’re not in violation or potential hot water…

4) Article Marketing. What!!?? Articles are “sketchy” now? I honestly don’t know one way or the other. Back in the day – it was literally magical. You could rank sites with articles all day long. These days, mass article marketing (especially with spun content) is seen as gray area, at best. I don’t have enough data, Post-Penguin, to know if it’s still remotely viable. Hence – it’s now experimental, in my books.

5) Mass/Generic Directory Submission. Basically, see my explanation of Article Marketing, above, and apply it to this in kind. The only thing I’d add is this – only use services that submit manually, and can post several anchor variations.

6) Mass Links. I’m going to lump a whole bunch of stuff into this one – it includes, but is not limited to – mass profiles, scrapebox blasts, mass bookmarks, trackbacks, shareware subs… you name it. Typically, I’ll only use these links to “boost” tiered linking structures. Even then, I do it pretty sparingly.

Ironically, you actually can still see phenomenal rankings (for a very short period of time) using masslinks. And then they will drop like a rock, likely never to return. (Just pray that your competitors don’t do this for you… yet another good reason to diversify, and rollout an army of small sites!)

7) Simulated Social Signals. You can use services like and EmpireAvenue to artificially inflate stuff like FB likes, Twitter activity, etc. Synnd is definitely the “grayer” of the two, and used correctly, EmpireAve could actually be pretty whitehat.

And that’s about it.

Again – the experimental stuff that I just mentioned – only use this on throwaways right now. Don’t let it touch anything you care about. This is the kind of stuff you do with mini-sites you’re rolling out in uber-competitive markets, where even one day on page 1 for any decent keyword will earn you 10X what you spent getting there.

For everthing else, I recommend lightly treading with above-board links.

Let’s wrap this all up in a few sentences for the sake of the scanners among us:

* Build up an “income safety net” by rolling out tons of small sites. As many as you can. With as much backlink diversity between them as possible. Right now, this is far safer than relying on one main site – even though that should be part of your overall plan, eventually.

* Less is more. Tread lightly with your new site rollouts. Don’t be aggressive. Just aim for a few links a day.

* Experiment. Nobody *really* knows what’s up right now. It’s too early on. The best thing you can do right now is to experiment with a bunch of different linkbuilding methods (low risk, low cost), and find out!

* Churn and Earn, Baby! Once again – roll out as many sites as you can, using different methods (or focusing on different things) for each one. That is your only safety-net. “Great content” obviously isn’t enough.

And lastly…


Here’s How to Actually Leverage Penguin’s Weaknesses to Generate Traffic FAST…

…While Simultaneously Diversifying Your Traffic Channels

(So You Can Eventually Tell Google to Go Get Stuffed)

My guess is your eyes are probably as sore as my fingers are at this point. So I’m going to do both of us a favor, and communicate in bullet points.

* Penguin LOVES Blogspot, YouTube, Squidoo, HubPages, Tumblr and Right Now. Along with a bunch of other sites like them. Seriously – this crap is ranking everywhere, and seemingly without any supportive links, quality or effort. My suggestion? Start publishing high-profit product reviews, and pages/videos targeting specific, but high-traffic keywords in hot markets. Hire someone to do this, all day long, if you can.

No, you might not “own” it – but hell! At least it’s freakin’ ranking...

* PRESS RELEASES – WHAT THE HELL!!?? These damn things are ranking for everything, right now. I’ve lost track of how many PRWeb, SBWire, PRNewsWire, and even PRLog (the free service!) press releases are ranking for insane keywords. Probably worth doing for some high-traffic keywords, IMO…

* Power Tip (Especially For Sites That Got Hit) – Why not craft a short YouTube video, press release or Web 2.0 page around each of your important pages on your most profitable sites? Especially if they recently got hit. Not only will this have some possible ranking boosts down the road – it will drastically bring up your traffic levels and get the revenue pumping again. (In fact, you may even find this is more profitable, in some cases)…

Note: Well-made YouTube vids in particular have an awesome sales conversion rate. Followed by Web2′s, and the distant third is press releases (although, PRs often rank on page #1 the day they go live).

And finally…

* Stop Throwing Away Your Visitors. Build lists, if it makes sense in your market. Build an audience you can continually reach with re-targeting technology (this is going to be massive – I strongly suggest joining the waiting list for ClickCertain, and checking out existing services like AdRoll). Build a fan base using Facebook, Twitter – whatever. However it makes sense for you in your market – set shit up so that you eventually own your own network of traffic. Build something you can really count on. And one day, sell.

In the meantime, you can use the above strategies to do so, while you wait to see what ends up happening with Penguin.


Has the Sky Fallen?

No. It hasn’t.

Google is making some really stupid moves right now – especially considering that they’re under Federal investigation for favoring their own sites in their SERPs – and their obsession with products that are quite obviously destined to fail (ahem.. *Google Plus*) seems absurd. But they are still the only real search game in town.

And it’s still THE traffic source to conquer. The great equalizer.

It might not always be that way. But for right now – it still is.

My advice?


Screw playing by “the rules”. (There is no golden bucket at the end of the “quality content” rainbow, as Penguin has just made painfully clear).

Sure, play it straight with your branded authority site(s). That’s definitely something that should be part of your longterm picture.

But as much as you can – right now – start rolling out all the mini-sites as you can, and let them ride.

Ironically, it’s honestly the safest thing you could do right now.

Maybe one day, in the distant future, quality content – and investing years of blood, sweat and tears into a site really will be rewarded.

Till then….



~ Chris Rempel
AKA: “The Lazy Marketer”


P.S. Oh, yeah – I forgot to mention. In a couple days my friend John Ozjaca will be explaining how he’s (so far) made $1.8 Million with two small WordPress blogs, organically. $0 has been spent on ads or PPC.

John and I have actually been talking shop and stuff for a couple years now. He’s a great guy – and he’s got a pretty cool story, too (he was literally a rock star before getting into aff marketing).

If that sounds interesting, then stay tuned and keep an eye on the blog…

Tags: General Marketing Stuff

116 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Unemployed Dad // May 9, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Great stuff as usual Chris. I got blasted by Penguin… almost an 70% drop in traffic across the board. But like all good affiliates I will rise from the ashes!

    Right now I’m taking some of my best offers over to PPC and see what I can do. Hopefully I can develop a new income stream to tide me over until things settle down with Google.

    My advice to everyone is to take action today. Don’t sit around waiting for your sites to come bag. Either use Chris’ tips to generate new traffic from hosted properties, or come up with a new idea to make money online. There are endless ways to make a buck… it is just a matter of putting in the effort.

  • 2 Booker Addison // May 9, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I sort of hate it when dudes call themselves the lazy this and that, then knock out 90,000 word posts proving that they bust their asses. Makes me feel beyond lazy…like 3/4 dead. Anyways, love the real world analysis, realistic outlook, and an action plan that makes as much sense as any in this topsy-turvy game. Plus, there are links to great tools I’ve never heard of. Now, I should get to work, but I really am too lazy.

  • 3 Donna // May 9, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I agree with you. Diversifying is the answer.

    Thanks for putting up the strategies on what all to diversify. I wasn’t thinking quite that much or that in depth, but you’re right.

    This is good stuff. Now I have some planning to do.

    And thanks for your opinion on the link profiles. I have been thinking along those lines but wasn’t sure about how much to allocate to domain and name of domain.

    Thanks for the guidelines. It is much appreciated.


  • 4 Deane // May 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I wished you’d written this a week ago. It would have saved me the trouble of coming to these conclusions on my own! The only piece of wisdom I question is to copy what high ranking sites are doing as far as site structure and backlinks. Since most of them seem to be crap, I’m thinking they aren’t going to stay at the top for long, so I don’t want to emulate what they are doing.

    I hope everyone will take the time to mouse over the links in this post. Some of the tool tips are hysterical.

  • 5 Richard // May 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I like it when you said milk it. I’ve taken note of my main site’s bestselling pages and created like pages on my tumblr and other web 2.0 blogs (that are the ones I used as link farms for main site) that have seen a MASSIVE traffic boost (front page in serps from non-existent)… and that’s driving some record sales!

    I’m in the process of doing youtube vids to get my main site money pages back into play – thanks for that advice.

    This is a bit ridiculous how awesome tumblr and other web2.0 are ranking – with seemingly useless off-topic content. Anyways – i’ll milk it like the rest of you while I can.

  • 6 Rosalind Gardner // May 9, 2012 at 7:36 pm


    I happen to agree with your points about Fiverr but you’ve taken my suggestions about staying out of ‘bad neighbourhoods’ out of context.

    Too, if I’m so deluded, then why have my sites never suffered during an algorithm change?

    I’ll answer that one for you… Quality sites. Just a few built up over years…not hundreds of micro sites that sell viagra and contact lenses that compete with thousands of other mis-informed so-called affiliates trying to do the same thing.

    Google is going to notice when silly bastards try to pull such tricks on a ‘real’ site.

    You need to have a little more faith, man… or build higher quality sites.


  • 7 admin // May 9, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Hi Ros,

    Thanks for dropping in.

    I truly want to have faith, as I also have quite a few sites with awesome content (for example, this blog), and some have taken nose-dives, really and honestly for no logical reason.

    I am talking sites where I have a real staff of writers (on this side of the ocean) and where I’ve spent considerable money on real content, have my own publicists that get us mentioned in real press/authority sites, etc.

    I am glad to hear that your sites are unaffected – that’s good. But you’re not out of the woods yet…

    I honestly wish you all the best


  • 8 Leon // May 10, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Hi Chris

    Very interesting post. I’m going to share some data with you if you like. Don’t know if it will help.

    I invested in your Affiliate Recon and Actually Rank at the same time (when ARecon was launched). I picked one of the suggested niches and built my site around it. I used ARank to build links, but tried to use only relevant sites (very time consuming).
    I also used Fiverr to get a few links (also relevent and never more than 2 or 3 at a time and PR3 or higher).

    In less than a month I was on page 7 of Google with my main keyword. I was amazed. So I decide to increase my ranking and wrote an article on Hubpages. 2 Days later I was on page 16. So I stopped doing anything, hoping that it will flip back in the right direction. Another 2 days and I was gone. Not even in the top 1000.

    I decided to keep building the links, and today, 5 days later, I’m back (page 12) and climbing.

    Now it’s time to get my few other sites turned around using some of your suggestions.



  • 9 John // May 10, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Finally, a blog entry without the BS! This was an awesome read dude.

    How do I subscribe?

  • 10 Jeff // May 10, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Killer post Chris, spot on with what I’ve been thinking, and the links to the Microsite Masters and Jerry West posts, came across them previously and thought the same thing.

  • 11 Thomas Frost // May 10, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Great write. I agree that the biggest problem is that it seems pretty random whats going on, but this might be Googles goal to start with.

  • 12 PacquiaovsBradley // May 10, 2012 at 8:08 am

    My 2 sites were ranking 2 in a highly competitive keyword but when I did something like adding some keywords on every posts, deactivating some plugins the sites got deindexed.

  • 13 Ryan O'Meara // May 10, 2012 at 8:16 am

    First time in years I’ve had to switch to Bing due to the genuinely poor results coming from Google searches. It’s like the wound the clock back to the era when Geocities was king. Google has this habit of making cool things, then wrecking them. I tried to love Google + but have rapidly come to the conclusion that it just flat out sucks. As a Google fan, Penguin is a disaster. As a Google investor, I’ll be keeping an eye on the next set of financials – I’m thinking a LOT more people will be upping their AdWords budget right now.

  • 14 What To Do Post Penguin: It's All Hypothesis - From Idea to Empire // May 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    [...] posts I enjoyed with detailed, intelligent Penguin analysis and hypothesis are Chris Rempel’s and John Leger’s. Use these as guidelines in your own experimentation and [...]

  • 15 matthew hunt // May 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Chris, man that was quite the post! Holy crap was that like 10,000 words. Found some gems in it. I’ve never heard of before. looks cool.

    thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on this crazy time.

  • 16 Ming Jong Tey // May 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    What a comprehensive post, Chris! I have noticed that anchor text variance is an important component in the Penguin update. However, there are still a number of my sites that doing the same backlinking profile with my penalized sites, rank on the front page of Google.

    So, I guess Google is still tweaking its algorithm and perhaps still implementing to cover all sites.


  • 17 admin // May 11, 2012 at 12:52 am

    @Leon – Sounds like the typical shuffle. Normally (well, pre-Penguin anyway) it usually takes a few months to solidify your rankings

    @John – I actually just (a few hours ago) added a newsletter thing on the right side of the blog. It follows you around :-)

    @Thomas – I think it’s definitely part of their goal, perhaps even the main goal, to remove confidence from the SEO industry at large.

    @Ryan – no kidding man. I think it’s because they only hire PHD’s. Sometimes “lofty theories” really don’t play out in real life like they should. For example, communism.

    @Matthew – my pleasure, I’m glad you found it useful. I’ll be posting test data as we get it in…

    @Ming – I agree that the SERPs really seem to be vertical-specific. It seems Penguin has passed over many keyword genres altogether, while obviously nailing other markets.

    The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that this *could* be a cash-grab, at least partly. If you mess up the most profitable markets and use them as the test bed for an unproven algo (like Penguin), it’s going to turn alot of profitable businesses into Adwords customers real quick.

    Even if the SERPs do return to some kind of normality (and sensibility) eventually, the disruption will be enough to turn enough folks off of organic SEO for good.

    Yet again – mission accomplished.

    However, they are on the tightrope, if that is their strategy. One strong gust of wind (ie. the feds, the EU, Bing getting strategic with FB, etc.) and the whole thing crashes down.

    As soon as users begin to realize that Ol’ Faithful Google is intentionally boosting the relevance of their paid results (in contrast to low quality organic SERPs), regardless of the actual motive, the writing is on the wall.

    I can only see that happening if this remains a long-term issue. Which it probably won’t.

    In that case, it’s just an arrogant “message”, and a short-term cash grab, that we can’t do anything about.

    Time to bust out those opt-in forms and get serious about leveraging traffic a little smarter.

    Google is still, currently, the ultimate traffic tap.

    But my advice is to use it wisely


  • 18 Col // May 11, 2012 at 6:26 am

    Yes a very lazy post indeed! Absolutely lots of ideas in here so many I dont know where to start! But thanks for the breakdown anyway…. best one I have seen so far

  • 19 Denny // May 11, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Google’s latest algorithm changes reveal their terrible quality control. Hey Google–how do you justify hiring hundreds of PhD brainiacs who produce such abysmal search results? Of course your billionaire founders don’t give a crap as thousands of legitimate websites and blogs get trashed by YOUR incompetence. Hey Larry and Sergey, I heard that Burger King is hiring. Maybe both of you can learn how to complete an order without burning the fries.

  • 20 Jeff Schuman // May 11, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Excellent post Chris. I am going to have to read and re-read this to totally comprehend everything you are saying.

    I have found some of my blogspot blogs still rank well and I know that even though I do not own them, Google does, so why wouldn’t they rank them? Especially with Adsense ads placed where everyone can see them.

  • 21 Marc // May 11, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Chris post Chris…but I think you need to drop the name “lazy marketer”. This took a great amount of effort to write and I appreciate you for it….Thanks Again

  • 22 Ian // May 11, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Chris, 301′s are working somewhat (as they did post some panda updates) however I’m not betting the farm on it and I’m not 301′ing individual pages into the same page on a new domain. Heck I didn’t even 301 into the same content again, but when you’ve got a PA 65+ domain and it tanks you wanna try something to get that monthly 5 figure income stream back. Not back to post-penguin levels but back on pg. 1 is better then not found. I’ll note a word of caution here, this could be market to market specific and of course it depends on what your BL profiles where. This site had lots of BRM, ALN and over the past 3-4 years it had SB and Profile runs to it as well, so everything under the sun had been thrown at it.

  • 23 Beverley Nash // May 11, 2012 at 7:03 am

    As a relative newcomer to the web I I feel like I might as well not bother putting in any effort and go back to the day job. Seems like whatever you do nothing is going to work because Google just wants to (a) rank all its own property and (b) make us all use Adwords. Hateful people.

  • 24 Wendy Owen // May 11, 2012 at 7:11 am

    This is one of the best and most honest articles on Penguin I have read so far. You are not claiming that your sites were unaffected like some of those nauseating white hat gooroos.

    You have done a lot of research on the subject and I appreciate the good info.


  • 25 Mikel Perez Isasi // May 11, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Really, at this point I’m not so sure about the “multi-site” strategy in the long term.

    I don’t think the risk of losing all your SEO traffic is higher if you have a few authoruty sites that if you have a ton of thin sites.

    Who knows what Google is going to do in the future? Maybe the next algorithm change, kangaroo, mooose or whatever animal they choose that time) will send every site with less than 20 pages to the abyss of the SERPs…

    I think the key now lies on thinking of SEO rankings and traffic as a nice byproduct of a good work that may or may not come, and focus on other sources of traffic:

    - Paid traffic (easier to monetize if you have a deep funnel, which may be easier on a large authority site)
    - Direct traffic by repeated visitors (much easier to achieve in a large authority site, where you can create some branding and a comunity).
    - Referal traffic (Social / Viral recomendations, PR, Guest Posting, etc) which are also easier to get for a branded authoritative site than for a mini-site.

    Just my 2 cents.

    What is a fact is that f you can make a living out of those other traffic sources, SEO traffic will be much welcome but only ADD to that, and if it’s gone one day you won’t lose everything.

  • 26 cheetu // May 11, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Hi Chris,

    You know, I was about to email you that we don’t want to read about Penguin on some marketing forum. You should write a post about it.

    Thanks for all the hard work you put on it :)


  • 27 Eve // May 11, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Hi Chris

    Thanks so much for the insightful post and the refreshing stance of admitting to ‘yeah, I used blog networks and did wear some oddly coloured hats at one stage or another’.

    I am really sick of seeing holier than thou posts of ‘if you were unfortunate enough to use a low class SEO company that used spammy blog networks….’ all over the place.

    Yes, I admit it, I am one of those ‘low class SEO companies’ who used blog networks…. Hell, they worked!

    And Google has always maintained that links back will not hurt you so I always reckoned that at worse Google will just discount the links (which would seem to be the sensible thing to do)

    Well, who is popping valium now? My whole SEO business as well as the livelihood of about 4 employees seem to be going down the tubes. The only thing that keeps me going is that I am not the only one in this boat.

    Google deindexed about 150 of my sites that it could find through my registrar data and my webmaster tools. Pretty stupid to have that info so readily available, huh? But yeah, pre-Penguin I was a pretty trusting type of person. The problem is that only about 80 of these sites are really spammy blog network sites, the rest are my main authority business site (ouch) as well as a mix of affiliate sites and (collateral damage) – poor clients whose major sin was that we designed their website and their registrar technical contact details were my main email address…
    We are scrambling at the moment to try and salvage some of our client SEO sites whose rankings tanked, and of course if you look at some of the sites NOW on the first page, they are doing all the wrong things in any case – high density anchors, links from ‘spammy’ article directories and obvious blog networks… This is the frustrating thing – there seems to be no consistency.
    Apologies for the long post – really appreciates this post and will try some of the strategies..and hope like hell that Google lays off all that cool-aid, it is obviously scrambling their collective genius brains..

  • 28 Richard // May 11, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Hi Chris,

    I allways trusted your words and opinion. Again great blog post and Information


  • 29 Johnny G // May 11, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Great Post Chris! How can you call yourself lazy when you go in to so much detail?

    This is the best post I have read on all this, take my hatt off to you.

    Building mass websites in your market is defo the way to go and what I preach to my followers as well. I have cme out on top again becasue I have so many articles, websites – web 2.0 etc all over the web.

    There is nothing I don’t agree with on this post and love your break down of it all.

    All the best mate

    Johnny G

  • 30 Stuart // May 11, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Great post Chris.

    I agree 100%.

    Sad that the reality of what is ranking is so far adrift from the PR of what Matt Cutts talks about.

    It has been clear ever since Feb 2011 with Panda that “ranking quality content” is quite a ways down on Googles agenda (ragardless of the BS they spout)

    Like you the site of mine that got tanked the most was the one that I had spent hundreds of hours lovingly writing great content for.

    I had planned on writing 300 articles of 1000 words plus personally for it over the next couple of months; but seeing as 90% of the traffic has gone, that is now no longer an option.

    It strikes me that there is a certain irony that an update has the effect of killing off existing good quality content in spades, and stopping production of new stuff; only to be replaced by mass blogger spam.

    It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.

    That post by Rosalind Gardner annoyed me as well.

    A little too smug, and totally off-beam.

    The assumption was that “good content would save you”; but of course the truth is that it doesn’t, and that anyone who was unaffected is honestly probably just lucky, and that they are just as likely to get stung in a future update without having changed anything.

    I am going to hold tight on my big site that got slammed for the time being.

    I have reverse engineered a few guys in my niches on page stuff who survived, and have spent the last two weeks changing the sites structure to match theirs, so will see if that helps a rebound.

    Like anyone awake above the neck for the last few years I did build a ton of links with blog networks, article marketing and other stuff. So it remains to be seen if it is even possible to bounce back.

    With regard to the re-inclusion request though Chris I would have to disagree.

    Matt Cutts has said that both Panda and Penguin were Algorithymic Penalties, not manual penalties, and as such even if you submit your site through that form, they will not reverse any penalties.

    It is really only there to help them refine the results, because even head in the sand Cutts must be able to see they are shit.

    As such, I am not convinced that submitting can do anything but harm, because more attention is focused on your backlink profile.

    Also be interested to hear word on the 301 re-directs.

    Starting again on a new domain may be neccesssary, but it does seem like a ridiculous of everyones time.

    I am definitely trying to move over to paid traffic (anyone EXCEPT Adwords – I for one will NOT give Google money); because at least that need not have a single point of failure, which all these “updates” show is increasingly what SEO is becoming.

    To survive you can’t produce good sites anymore.

    You have to produce 100 very average sites on different servers, ips, and backlink profiles.

    Outstanding Content is just as likely to get screwed, but takes too long, and costs too much too produce in contrast.

    Very sad.

    It is like a universal dumbing down of the web, until there are only 10 big sites which rank, half of which are controlled by Google.

  • 31 Mike // May 11, 2012 at 8:16 am


    I have been creating videos with some success. Do you think you can still mass link a video url to increase rankings? Also you mentioned creating product reviews but how can you be noticed as Amazon takes up most of the 1st page when someone searches for a product keyword. I am a newbie so any help would be appreciated.

  • 32 Brittany // May 11, 2012 at 8:24 am


    If you don’t mind me asking about your 2 authority sites:

    1. How much content did the 2 sites have on it?

    2. How old were those 2 authority sites?

    3. What kind of whitehat backlinking did they have, i.e., article marketing, guest blogging, etc?

    4. How much of a drop did you see in traffic for both sites?

    5. Do you capture email with either of those sites?

    6. Moving forward will you be trying to diversify your traffic sources for those 2 authority sites so you’re not so dependent on Google for traffic?

    Or for those 2 particular niches is it unrealistic to think that you could get traffic from any other source than Google?

    Sorry for so many questions but I want to get into building a couple of authority sites myself and was curious about the details of your 2 authority sites after this Penguin update…

  • 33 gavin // May 11, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Hi friend, really like the blog. Fantastic content on here and a great base for knowledge. I was wondering what plugin you use to get the email optin to follow readers down the page. Thanks in advance. gavin

  • 34 Kevin // May 11, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Great post Chris.

    I lost a lot of sites in the recent updates and I am currently split testing a variety of backlinks on different domains, this is the only way to get real results and not theory.

    Totally agree we all need to focus on building lists, something I have been guilty of neglecting.

    For one of my keywords I had 6 sites in the first 2 pages at Google, only one that is on page one now is by far my WORST content site ( all outsourced poor content in my opinion ). No idea how this site survived and the others burned but currently investigating.

  • 35 Steve F // May 11, 2012 at 9:05 am


    Wow! Even by your standards, that was pretty impressive. I didn;t start out to spend half an hour this am reading a post, but it was worth it.

    One of my authority sites go absolutely hammered. I started digging, and realized much of what you are talking about. I was trying to sell it a few months ago, because after Panda II, I realized that I wanted to have a “real” business, with customers I could see and talk to.

    I’ve basically had it with spending time and money building up authority sites, only to watch them get shot down by the big G.

    As for over reliance on search engine traffic…..well, if you’re trying to find new visitors at exactly the timethey are searching for what you offer, you don’t really have much choice, do you?

    It’s interesting that so many sites that got drilled by Panda 1, such as EzA and Squidoo, are now dominating the SERPS.

    Google is Fucking Schizophrenic, and they are the masters of collateral damage. Just ask DaniWeb.

    Note that yesterday Bing announced they would be incorporatingFacebook into their search results, in another column to the side of ther regular results. I haven’t looked into it too much yet, but it will require the user be logged into Facebook when they use Bing.

    Ros, good to hear from you. I got into this whole silly game in 2004/5 or thereabouts, when you released your affiliate marketing book.

    In any case, I resolved to try and resurrect my authority site that got drilled (not the one in my sig link), so I can sell it. This time I will be more agreesive pursuing a buyer, and get one when the traffic is there.

    Authority site links and compelling content that generates plenty of social media feedback are how I am trying it Thanks for the anchor text / backlink pointers. I’ll incorporate those as well.

    I’ll share the data when I’m finished.

    Thanks for the post, Chris


  • 36 Top Smartphones // May 11, 2012 at 9:21 am

    6690 words of awesome content in one post – Thanks for sharing your experience with the recent updates, Chris.
    I also lost some traffic to my authority site (11 years on the web, few hundred all natural backlinks). The loss amounts to about 10-15%. Smaller niche sites suffered more. One of them down to just 10 visits/day (pre prenguis ~50/day).

    My way to cope with this: continue to create content and when a new niche idea pops up -> follow the idea like before. There probably is also a world fater google.

  • 37 Top Smartphones // May 11, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Sorry its me again – one question just popped up after re-reading the post: You talk about naked and branded links in your link profile. Meaning all links coming from other webistes.
    But how do internal links influence the anchor profile and do they have an influence in this (these) update(s)?

  • 38 Scott Harvey // May 11, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Chris – thank you for being the voice of reason, and straight-up as usual. What you’ve seen, what you are doing, admitting that you don’t know it all, etc. It is much appreciated.


    P.S. (I’ve left some pretty well-thought out, value-added comments in the past, but even though I got nuthin’ else to add to your post, I had to at least quickly just say thank you.

    Your longtime followers know it already, but I hope newer people stumbling across this will realize that you are the real deal, and mandatory reading.)

  • 39 Phil // May 11, 2012 at 10:37 am


    I’m done with Google, I’m totally turning my back on them. Now, it’s all about networking, doing partnerships and so on. Never again do I want to lay in bed at night worrying whether my sites will come back into favour with Google.

    The great thing about that is, if I want to create a one page, sqqueeze page site, I CAN, if I wanna stick a big fat fukkin banner above the fold, I WILL. All these years of building sites around what Google says ends now, if they want to send me traffic, cool, thanks, but if not, I couldn’t give a sh1t.

    Great post Chris, and to your continued success.


  • 40 Suresh // May 11, 2012 at 10:37 am

    The more I read on how to recover, the more unsure I get about my next steps. My main site (it is huge) lost around 60-70% traffic and I was thinking of actually adding more content to it, thinking that probably the content is not better. But then when I read about your “build more sites” model, I think probably that is the way to; one of my mini-sites which was doing well has stayed there. But then I’m not very keen on owning lots of sites, and don’t have the resources currently to experiment with the steps you mentioned on multiple sites. Maybe just wait and watch from here on until I have more clarity. Excellent Post here…

  • 41 Craig // May 11, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Like many others, I got hammered in numerous markets. Interestingly, my SEO clients, where I’ve been conservative and very local in my SEO efforts, are pretty stable for now. My affiliate sites? The most ridiculous example is a #2 ranking for a 40K/mo searches keyword… its top ranking page is now the sitemap. Check out the #1 ranking for “payday loans” (without the quotes). 1 backlink, 8 pages. Unbelievable.

  • 42 Craig // May 11, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Top Ranking for payday loans… 1 backlink and 8 pages. My #2 spot for a 40K/mo keyword. Gone. Top page for that site is the sitemap. Yeah.

  • 43 steve // May 11, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Great article. I really appreciate your honesty. There are a lot of self professed SEOs trying to capitalize on fear right now and talking through their ass. This is too new for anyone to really be an “expert”.

    I have about 50 sites and none have been hit by this update. The reason is simple. I don’t build backlinks. I do a few posts like this from time to time and some social bookmarking and that is it.

    Most of my sites are large product sites. I have gotten most of my traffic from longtails which are easy to rank for. But the way Amazon is showing up everywhere in the top 4 spots may make this harder to do.

  • 44 Jon // May 11, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Penguin took some of the wind out of my sail as well hammering a large site of mine (my biggest earner). Interestingly the traffic is creeping up again, but it’s still down 75% (was down 90% at its lowest level).

    Since I’m seeing some resurgence for that site, I’m sitting and waiting (rather than migrate the entire thing). The link profile isn’t white hat, but the content is good and I was never too aggressive with link building (I target long tail KWs).

    However, I’m in the process of doing EXACTLY what Chris suggested … and that is creating several highly targeted websites and promoting them in different ways … with a big focus on YouTube.

    I’m focusing my new sites on what earned the most money from the site of mine that was hit. That site was fairly broad so now I’m rebuilding multiple smaller sites using that content (for now I’m rewriting it instead of migrating the entire site).

    In the long run I believe the multi-site approach will work well for building lists and attracting more targeted traffic. Since all the research and knowledge of what earns is there, it’s not going to take too long. I can target in on the aff programs that earned the most and the type of content that presold the best. Lean and mean. I’ve nearly completed one site and will spend the next week on promotion. Then on to the next one. They don’t take long to build because all the content is developed.

    Other things I’m focusing on: Long tail keywords for targeted traffic, list building where it makes sense, AND buying traffic. I’m going to build some sites where buying traffic is profitable (at least I hope I do). I’ve succeeded with one, so it’s possible. I love organic search, but it will be good to have a few projects where I can profit from paying for traffic for more diverse revenue models.

    If my large site that got hammered doesn’t recover to at least 50% of traffic (which would render it a great earner still at that point), I’ll consider migrating the entire thing to a new domain without a redirect. It targets many long tails and I’ll roll out a new link profile (slowly and conservatively).

    FYI, I also had one local website affected by Penguin. It’s not dessimated, but the best keywords were affected. My response will also to roll out new, smaller and more focused sites using the content and cooling it on the linking. Fortunately, my other local sites weren’t impacted, and one actually is doing MUCH better.

    I’ll always love organic search engine traffic. I’m not a master SEO, but I’ve done very well by it. However, Penguin is forcing me to expand my traffic sources from lists, videos and buying traffic. It’s a bit painful now, but in the long run diversifying will be a smart move.

  • 45 Bill Davis // May 11, 2012 at 11:58 am

    I am waiting for the big Google Slap—when Google gets its ass slapped by the DOJ!

    The question remains—when will Google fall from the SE graces and who will emerge the new leader?

    It wasn’t too long ago that Google took the lead…it will happen again.

  • 46 Adrian // May 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    LOL Matt Cutts. He’s the equivalent of a white house press secretary for Google. These people live in a delusion. The updates were nothing more than to bump up falling shares for their stock holders.

    I’ve now taken my business offline and off of Google and they can’t do f*ck all! Yea, that’s right Matt – try to Penguin me now you paid shill.

    I’d love to see them broken up in an anti-bully case.

  • 47 Karen Blundell // May 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Chris,

    Great post!

    I think it’s really important for people to take a step back and really consider what I’m about to post:
    Most of us became self-employed so that we could say goodbye to our bosses – only to trade it for another boss: Google?

    I am so not drinking Google’s kool-aid. They are just a freaking search engine and people act like they are some kind of “God”, when in fact, at the moment, and hopefully for not too much longer, they are just a monopoly, and we all know what eventually happens to monopolies.

    In protest, I’m not even using Google search anymore – I’m using Bing. Sure I use some Google tools, but not because I have to. In fact, I quickly removed Google Analytics from my sites years ago, because I noticed that it slows down the sites, especially WordPress sites. So I use my server’s Awstats, which is a fantastic stats program, imho.

    I’m a renegade, I am not a follower, and refuse to listen to some entity that’s trying to tell me what I can or cannot do with my site. For example, I’m told don’t sell links. Why the frig not? As long as I sell links relevant to my sites content, how is it any different from running Adsense or Adbrite, or any other third-party text link ad scheme? I’ll tell you what’s different: I make significantly more money selling my own links or ads, from my site, and I am selective about what niches I’ll allow.

    People say too many outbound links is bad…that’s utter crap. Believe me, when I say this, people spread the stupidest info online, and many people buy into that info. I say this because I’ve been online since 1997. I think I’ve seen it all!

    Along with your great advice above, Chris, I suggest people forget about optimizing for Google completely, and NOT count on Google traffic whatsoever – think of it as bonus traffic, and start using YouTube, and other social media sites for traffic, as well as the other suggestions you made.

    People have said Google runs the Internet. And I say – no frigging way. PEOPLE run the Internet, and if enough people stop using Google for their search engine, and Google’s traffic drops, maybe then Google will wake up and stop acting like the corporate bully that they are.

  • 48 Eapen // May 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    You are absolutely right, spot on! Some junk Squidoo lenses, PRLog and Ezinearticles stuff are ranking like crazy like never before. But don’t know how long they will stay on top. So I think it’s too early to say whether we can really start “Milking it” or not. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. Google will surely fine tune their search quality in the days to come and weed out all the spam.

  • 49 admin // May 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Guys, I’m going to be back in about 2 hours or so to answer some of these comments in depth.

    But for now – here’s something very interesting. Talk about senseless collateral damage (and a perfect example of why Penguin’s linking PENALTIES vs devaluations are assinine):

    Read it and cry on the inside:


  • 50 Active-Domain // May 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Google is such a hypocrite! Calling themselves “do no evil”? How much more evil when you put thousands of honest, decent business owners out of business at the stroke of a pen (or keys)?! And that without even evidence to show that they are actually producing better search results. Talk about self serving! Look at the number of Youtube, Blogspots results that they are favoring now than real independent sites. Seriously, how long do they expect people to put up with their crap, just because they can do whatever they like?

  • 51 Marco // May 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Chris, I found your lazy affiliate marketer guide on my hard disk (I bought it one day) and read it over coffee… up to lunch!

    I am just getting into SEO because PPC has become impossible (at least it is next to impossible to promote lots of interesting stuff and build lists with PPC) and my first toe dip was with the Bring The Fresh (BTF) advice by Kelly Felix and Mike Long.

    I was realy going to ask you:

    1) Does what you wrote in the ebook still work today? (let’s say 2012, Penguin is another issue)

    2) Did you try the Bring The Fresh techniques? (they are very different from what you say you do in the ebook, but that was 2007)

    Now, in this article you answer somewhat the second question: you recommend making lots of small focuse sites and this is what BTF recommends for fast and easy SEO.

    The point is that I am decent with PPC (since 2004, I know how to make an optimized campaign) but SEO has always been a mystery.

    So I try to make sense of all the contrasting and colored-hat info around.

    I liked your ebook a lot and this is why I searched for your website.

    So I restate the 2 questions?

    1) Is the lazy affiliate marketer still relevant after 5 years ?

    2) Do you know the BTF system and if you do, what is your opinion?

    Amazing job man, I will register to your list with my real email (not my”onlyformailinglist” one :-)

  • 52 jimena // May 11, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Well Said! I think you are right on the money! Will be doing my own testing as well, but i;ve always stressed having a well diversified link portfilio because you never know what type of link will be “evil” next

  • 53 John // May 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Hey bro, tried subbing – got sent to a 404 page when confirming.

    You might want to check on this.

    Am I subbed or not? :0/

  • 54 The Pattaya Punter // May 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Whew, long post. I’m at work, but will check out some sites I’ve had for a while to see what they’re up to. The only thing I’ve been doing SEO wise lately his helping a friend boost his business’ site.

    Over the last 6 months I’ve become more of a regular google user instead of an IM’r…which I never really was, but at one point was active in building niche sites for profit.

    Over these last 6 months I’ve definitely noticed the results for searches have been increasingly shitty :P It’s tough to find genuine info on certain topics without weeding out all the thin marketing sites.

    I have as the homepage on my work laptop…never done that…ever.

    Well…that’s it I guess. This has been a dark past year for google results.

  • 55 John // May 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    To say I got hit is an understatement! All of my sites, authority and mini sites, they all got hit to some degree or other. My main authority site has somehow got 179,000 back links from and old FFA site. I have no idea how this happened. I am thinking I may be the victim of a negative seo campaign?

  • 56 Keith // May 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Regarding “Penguin loves blogspot, squidoo, hubpages, etc.” I’d be wary of using or tumblr if you’re doing affiliate marketing. I know specifically does NOT allow affiliate marketing*, and tumblr considers blogs that are created primarily for affiliate marketing as spam and deletes them. (*this only applies to, not a self-hosted blog that uses wordpress, but that’s separate from what Chris was talking about in the post.)

  • 57 Jorge Chavez // May 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Great Post Chris! Thank you!

    Hard-hitting, on point, no BS pretending you know more than you do, straight talk. Really good stuff!

    Useful analysis and candid presentations Re Penguin are scarce these days. Yours is easily the best I have seen.

    You supplied a lot of useful/useable options and ideas, most of which ring true and many of which I plan to put to good use!

    Thanks again…


  • 58 Terence // May 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    In some ways I am glad I am lazy when it comes to backlinking to some of my sites, it’s just too much work for one person. At least I can’t be penalized for spammy backlinks to them so it might be a good thing.

    And my top earning site (with lots of good and bad backlinks) just took a nosedive in traffic by 90% and it has good content too! It got hit before and recovered so I am sitting this one out till I see what happens.

    I have lots of undeveloped domains that can be used for testing purposes and I take what you said about backling to them in different ways to see what works.

    One last thing, I am so glad I am on your list because you tell it like it is as always.

  • 59 admin // May 11, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Another great example of quality sites crashing and burning, while the true spam is thriving, Post-Penguin:

  • 60 admin // May 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    @Ian, #22 – I agree, I think this is market specific, at the moment at least. They haven’t used a universal filter.

    Re: 301 redirects, I honestly don’t know if that’s the way forward. I guess the only risk would be burning a new domain (don’t buy an expensive domain if you’re testing out the 301)…

    @ Mikel #25 – I have to respectfully disagree.

    Rolling out tons of mini-sites with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT seo strategy for each site is much, much safer than placing all your eggs in one basket.

    If SEO is the lifeblood of your business, mini-sites make way more sense.

    However, if you want to build up other assets in addition to SEO-driven campaigns, then obviously an authoritative site (mainly for interacting with a community/subscribers) makes sense. This blog is, in a small way, an example of that.

    But if you’re selling dental insurance for example… it makes NO sense. You can’t ride on one property, if you’re primarily doing SEO.

    And nobody cares about joining a list or a forum about insurance. They don’t. It’s a one-off.

    Therefore, mini-sites are safer, right now.

    Because it’s possible to be penalized for offsite activity.


  • 61 Shaun Guido // May 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Spot on as usual Chris…

    Its bizarre how Google seems to care more about screwing SEO people than serving relevant results – even on a site: search level.

    I had a site that has 5 or 6 great content pages about a particular keyword, but in a site search, the #1 result is some random forum post.. Oy.

    The best part (sarcasm) is that the scrapers are 3-4 pages deep for text from the original homepage – even some of the scrapers are linking to our original site.

    Well done Google ..

  • 62 Perry Lezcano // May 11, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    I had a small product review site that ranked #2 for ‘product name review’ for months. I used ALN for about one month on it now it is on page 8 but 3 of the ALN spoon articles that link to my site are on the first page…

  • 63 Isobel // May 12, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Truly amazing post – I think you covered pretty much everything without a single piece of fluff :)

    BUT – your sliding sidebar is possibly the MOST annoying thing I have ever encountered on a website. PLEASE take it away!

  • 64 admin // May 12, 2012 at 7:15 am

    @Eve, #27 – very sorry to hear that. It may take some serious strategy adjustment on your end to adapt to this, and your clients *may* be able to submit reconsideration requests if they provide proof of invoices, etc. to show that the connection was not intentional or indicative of direct “manipulation” on their part.

    @ Stuart, #30

    You said:

    “To survive you can’t produce good sites anymore.

    You have to produce 100 very average sites on different servers, ips, and backlink profiles.

    Outstanding Content is just as likely to get screwed, but takes too long, and costs too much too produce in contrast.”

    Very true, and very troubling. With Google now having a vested stake in Demand Media (eHow), we’re seeing that property favored, even though it’s largely crap content.

    Their message is so inconsistent it makes my eyes go red.


    But then, that great content would overshadow AdWords.

    Can’t have that, can we?

  • 65 Make Money Online » Penguinized // May 12, 2012 at 7:18 am

    [...]… [...]

  • 66 admin // May 12, 2012 at 7:19 am

    @ Mike, #31, re: Videos

    Honestly we’re finding that simply posting a video is all it takes, often times even for competitive keywords.

    @ Brittany, #32

    Whew, that’s quite the list of questions. The important takeaways from my observations are this – both sites have well over 500 solid, full-length unique articles.

    One is rather new. One is several years old and very established. Both lost about 80% of their traffic.

    The new one has a member base that is gradually building. The old one is in a market where – trust me – you don’t wanna be building a list.

    Both had clean BL profiles. The new one has a spotless BL profile.

    The way forward is described, in detail, in my 6900 word blog post above.


  • 67 admin // May 12, 2012 at 7:24 am

    @ Steve F, #35 – Looking fwd to your data… also re: Bing + FB, if they actually reciprocate strategically they could really make a market-share play against Google. Especially right now, while G is dealing with:

    1) DOJ/FTC lawsuit
    2) EU privacy crap
    3) Penguin SERPs

    I would welcome a reset in market share. It would mean that the SERPs would have to become competitive again… no more f#%$ing around to boost vested properties and inflate quarterly profits under the guise of “webspam”…

    @ “Top Smartphones” #37

    First of all… haven’t you learned anything about anchor text, LOL :-)

    Second – I have no idea, re: onsite anchors. I imagine it would have an impact, but I can’t back that up.

  • 68 admin // May 12, 2012 at 7:30 am

    @steve, #43

    Glad to hear you weren’t negatively affected yet, hope it holds.

    Softlinking turned out to be a saviour in your case, although until April 24th 2012, it just wasn’t remotely enough to make a dent in competitive spaces.

    I hear you re: longtail, product-spec stuff, etc. But to play in the big-league keyword SERPs make no mistake, you were either a Fortune 500 or somebody buying their spot.

    Apparently right now, what is required is a shitty Google-hosted page of some kind and 3 backlinks.

    @ Jon, #44

    Looks like we’re part of the same club.

    @ Marco, #51

    Mostly everything is still relevant, yes. Well, aside from Penguin related stuff.

    And there’s a paragraph on recip linking in there that, at the time was accurate. But is not accurate, any longer.

    Re: BTF, I think I saw it being promoted one time. Haven’t checked it out, sorry.


  • 69 Reece // May 12, 2012 at 7:37 am


    How come you think google + is going to fail? I dont get how you came to that conclusion?

    I know google could be putting people out of business with all this nonsense and are therefore complete assholes for that. Reading this whole article kinda makes me think that google will someday self destruct….. someday
    Great post!

  • 70 admin // May 12, 2012 at 7:37 am

    @ John, #53 – yep, you made it :-)

    I have to fix that damn WP page editor… fricken blogs.

    @ John, #55 – Sounds like Neg SEO. Unfortunately, there is currently no recourse. Google’s officialy MO is to place their head in the sand and hum to themselves to block out the reality of Negative SEO.

    That is, of course, after removing their head from their ass.

    Same goes for their White Hat fan club too afraid to sing “off key” lest they lose their exclusive access to Google’s PR fabrication team, or their big dumb corporate clients.

    @ Keith, #56, Fair point. This stuff will always be in flux, one always has to adapt and use the “network of the month” so to speak.

    @ Shaun # 61 – I feel your pain man. G is a complete mess right now. It’s a joke.

    At our expense, of course.

    Errr… I mean… “it’s another step towards rewarding quality sites”

    *Fake smile*

    *thumbs up*

  • 71 admin // May 12, 2012 at 7:45 am

    @ Reece #69, re: Google Plus failing.

    It will fail because absolutely everything Google has ever done (aside from Gmail) has been a complete flop.

    Their only profitable product worth mentioning is Search. Period.

    G Plus is a knee-jerk reaction to Facebook, as was Buzz, Orkut was their “answer” to MySpace, etc.

    Someone should really learn that for all those PHD’s over there… they really can’t run a business aside from the one that succeeded initially, based on its simplicity.

    More details here:

  • 72 Erick // May 12, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Great post, this is the most thorough post i’ve seen since penguin. Question though, with your safety net sites, are you going to be hiding the ownership and using different hosting or will you make it obvious you own all these, same brand etc?

  • 73 Pete // May 12, 2012 at 11:16 am

    How to remove that damn floating piece of crap you’ve put on your page wanting me to share with FB, failing G+, Twitter, and the rest of that social nonsense that obstructs reading?

  • 74 admin // May 12, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    @Erick – Different servers, spread across different IPs, etc. The whole nine yards. I don’t want my auth sites to be remotely connected to my “mini-net”.

    @Pete, re: floating piece of crap.

    I hear that if you FB like, Tweet, +1 and use the orange “Share button” – as well as buy all my products – it goes away…


    Just kidding. I quite like it, actually. It boosts my ego.

  • 75 Text the romance back // May 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Well from what I see, the best way to do money at this moment is to create youtube videos, preferably TV like interviews that are entertaining, or viral videos> If you want to rank in Google, you should create simples sites with NO SEO optimising but good text content and a cloaked link to the outgoing promotion, just like these ugly text pages you find on some university sites
    what chris tells is right of course, and from the comments we can only conclude that Google is so afraid of the SENUKE and other blackhatters masters that he even dont recognise what normal webmaters are creating> All my sites lost 90% of there adsense income, so I guess Google must somewhatt also loose money, it is video that is saving my shirt at this moment with simple clickbank product promotion done in a clever way

  • 76 Rick // May 12, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Sheesh Chris. I’ve been following you for years and I have to say I’m truly awed with this blog post not only for relevant content but for the actual length of. You put the rest of us to shame with this one just from the quantity factor alone. Like someone commented earlier, now I feel like the lazy marketer.
    Thanks for a great post.

  • 77 Christi Marsalis // May 13, 2012 at 5:24 am

    “Why YouTube video lessons are shared everywhere? I think one reason is that these are effortless to obtain embed script and paste that code everyplace you wish for.”

  • 78 Steve // May 13, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Chris Rempel? Lazy Marketer my arse!

  • 79 Jean // May 13, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Thanks Chris, very in-depth analysis. It would be great if bad results could also help Bing (I can’t believe I am actually writing that…) to offer IMs some diversity away from Google.

  • 80 Truth About Traffic // May 13, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Seo is starting to lose its roi, you pay for articles for your site or you spend your time writing, then you pay to get links or you spend your time getting them yourself.

    Then you hope and pray Google will rank you, even if they do there is no guarantee it will be stable, and you have to keep getting more links and social signals to keep up.

    Chris’s strategy is good, but I think we better not rely totally on the search engines for all our traffic.

  • 81 Jo // May 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Re your comment to @Erick
    – Different servers, spread across different IPs, etc. The whole nine yards. I don’t want my auth sites to be remotely connected to my “mini-net”.

    The srever stuff I’ve been doing for a while. Would you see making all your dom reg data is private as a priority?

    I’m thinking of also doing some “local” stuff and given what Eve@27 said I’m having some misgiving as I’m in UK and as far as I can tell there is no privacy allowed on .uk dom registration – just removal of address/phone – if you’re not commercial. Any suggestion on that?


  • 82 Penguin talk | GeekMum // May 14, 2012 at 5:32 am

    [...] best posts I’ve seen so far are from the lazy marketer and seo [...]

  • 83 Mr Bearly // May 14, 2012 at 6:28 am

    G’Day Chris,

    I have to get back to work so I haven’t read all the comments as I would usually do, sorry folks.

    Since none of my sites make any money to speak of anyway none of the Algorithm updates make any difference to me but I have noticed that several of my better quality sites, with very few links, have increased their rankings and I finally have one site with a PR of 3.

    On the Google SERPs, I have started using Yahoo and Bing for my searches as I get way too many parked domains in the Google results. These have always been a crap result and should never rank for anything but they are becoming more and more common.

    Good content has never been any good for ranking despite the BS from Google, you gotta have at least one link so they can find you. No one will link to you until you are on the first page of the SERPs because they can’t find you either.

    As far as I can tell Google is just getting greedy. It’ll crush them if they keep it going. With MS and FB and Yahoo ganging up on them they really need to get their act into gear fast.

    Keep up the good work Chris, looking forward to your next post.

  • 84 How to Do Back Linking After the Penguin Update | StrayBlogger // May 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    [...] Method Per Site: This is a solid, common-sense idea I picked up from Chris Rempel’s blog post: If you have the means, set up as many sites as you can and experiment with one back linking method [...]

  • 85 Paul // May 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Chris, As usual, you over deliver! And quite frankly one of the Very Few intellectuals in this game, and also one of the Very Few people I listen to. 100% correct in every viewpoint you discussed here.

    I’ve been on a computer since 1997, and marketing since 2001 ( started full time in 2005), and have seen it all.

    This crap will pass, but the outcome is going to have to be dealt with in an entirely different way!

    Thanks for your Great content!
    See, great content is rewarded!


  • 86 Andres // May 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Blogger blogs are ranking high right now, but NOT new ones. I have Splogs made 2 years ago ranking number one in product phrases, but they initially don’t rank.

    It takes more than 1 year for these blogspots to get out of of the sandbox, I don’t know if videos behave this same way.

    People should use another search engine, one that explains their algorithm openly.

  • 87 Danny // May 15, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Great post Chris. True.. Google has gone to far this time. They have punished sites that obviously did not need punishing. Lots of people would say their website was unfairly punished, but some were not, but they should of checked, double checked and so on till it was certain no casualties were being made especially the larger sites on which people depend for their lively hoods..

  • 88 Alfio T. // May 15, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Simply the best stuff I have read in years.
    Thanks a lot Chris :)

  • 89 How to Treat Your Customers Like an ATM Cash Machine // May 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    [...] of free information so I enjoy being on chris`s list. Check out his recent blog post he did about how to rank after the google penguin update. This is what I call providing [...]

  • 90 Shell // May 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Amazing post, thank you! Will definitely be keeping an eye on this site! Love the honesty!
    I’ve found my adsense information sites which had been happily on page one of Google for six months suddenly vanished, taking my adsense income from it – not amused! :( Am hoping Google will realise they have messed up with Penguin and sort it out, although the remarks about it possibly being to get people to pay via Adsense is scarily possible I think….
    Thanks again, Shell :)

  • 91 Mike // May 18, 2012 at 4:05 am

    Great post indeed.
    I was really inspired by your idea by making 10 different web2.0 and blasting them with links. It might even work. I’ll give a shot :P

  • 92 4500 Words on Everything We Don’t Know About Penguin and What Not to Do About It | The Truth // May 18, 2012 at 10:51 am

    [...] Rem­pel says it fan­tas­ti­cally in his very thor­ough Pen­guin analy­sis - Any­one with half a brain can plainly see that Google’s cur­rent SERPs, span­ning almost [...]

  • 93 Keith // May 21, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Thanks Chris for the great info. This is the best (and the longest) info about the Penguin that I have come across.

    I still believe in sites with great content. I believe that by now Google should have realized that sites with great content were wrongly punished and Google will make the correctionin the near future. Thus, sites with great content should not panic, but continue to do what they use to do and wait for the daylight to shine upon them again.

  • 94 Gabe // May 22, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Good stuff as usual Chris…

    On a semi-related-but-who-cares-anymore note it looks as though Penguin has stepped and corrected things where a lot of this started about 6 weeks ago – auto insurance.

    Luckily for us Matt and his pals got rid of “Auto Insurance Quotes Made Easy” via SEO Moz (

    This is key since everyone agrees that an affiliate site couldn’t possibly send a person to an insurance rep that provides better service than Allstate, Progressive, etc. does directly – everyone knows that.

    However, THEIR agents buy leads by the truckload from other websites (Netquote, BankRate, etc.) who get THEIR leads from either SEO or PPC or CPV!!! affiliate sites but that’s not really important here…

    The POINT is that today a search for “Auto Insurance Quotes” looks more like it’s coming from In fact, the results are MUCH improved although you’ll need to go to Moscow if you want a quote since all the backlinks for some of the domains on Page 1 look like they are from some kind of bizzaro universe where vowels are no longer needed.

    No wonder Penguins can’t fly.

  • 95 admin // May 22, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Thanks for all the conversation and input on this everyone

    I’ve got an update coming shortly on all this.


    PS Gabe, re: results – haha, I so agree. Maybe Google is trying to gain some Russian and Eastern-European marketshare by rewarding their organic marketers… LOL

  • 96 George Super Boot Camps // May 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I for one feel highly grateful that you’ve done this post. I took a hit with penguin and have noticed my old searches coming back in over the last week or so. It’s like google is rebuilding their indexes from scratch. I wonder if this has been their plan all along; create a mess, and rebuild whilst they see who panics and goes blackhat in the process…

    Looking forward to that update!
    Keep up the good work,

  • 97 JohnnyS // May 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I’m new to this IM stuff and created my first blog. I was right in the middle of it when Google did it’s thing. Thankfully I was doing most things right, but there are greats tips here for how to proceed into the future. Thank you much for the advice, which I’m already following.

  • 98 Joe // Jun 7, 2012 at 1:08 am

    I am an adult webmaster and I can tell you this BS talk about google targeting link buys is wrong. I have a top quality site with very unique articles that are interesting with custom graphics from top to bottom. We spend about 3 hours for 1 blog post rather than pumping out 30 of them in that time.

    Now, my rank is lost to tubes who use scraped content. None of it is unique, if you copyscape it – the same text is on hundreds of other sites that use the same video.

    -The site ranking now in #1 spot buys links like a mofo, I know this because I did some due dilligence and identified exactly which links he bought by contacting the webmasters and asking them if they sold links to him, and also which links he traded, etc etc.

    He’s #1 for the keyword, followed by other tube sites & torrent sites.

    -He has NO unique content
    -He has only auto scraped content
    -He has tube style embedded flv videos
    -He has a ton of banners above the fold, header, 3 in the right sidebar, and under the video players
    -He bought 70% of his links
    -His site is only 3 months old.

    So, all the BS make good quality content, don’t buy links, this and that is obviously a lie.

    Google likes pirated sites, free video sites, and stuff like that. Google is a major supporter of piracy and copyright violations.

  • 99 admin // Jun 7, 2012 at 3:06 am

    Joe, one occurrence or example doesn’t mean it applies across the board.

    Of course, we see this in other verticals also, but it’s not universal. Many of the sites we manage that blatantly bought links got hammered. Perhaps it’s not the only factor.

    The only thing that seems certain is that it’s inconsistent.

    In one market, you can seemingly buy links and blast profile links all day long.

    In another, if your link profile even smells artificial – hello page 100.

    One thing that we’re hearing from some very credible SEOs is that Penguin may be targeted a little more heavily with onsite factors than we originally thought. These theories only have limited, industry-specific data behind them though.

    So I’m going to wait a bit before bringing that forward…

    We just don’t know.



  • 100 admin // Jun 7, 2012 at 3:09 am

    But yes, I agree re: content scrapers.

    Apparently the PHD’s at the GPlex are having a hard time realizing that earliest cache date = original source.

    I know it’s an incredibly complex mathematical challenge, to define the actual source of the content based on when it was indexed.

    And those scraper sites are real purdy lookin, no doubt…

    But maybe one day, we’ll get there.


  • 101 Jeff Smith // Jun 11, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Honestly guys – I have a group of sites around affiliate marketing and many more that market and sell my own infoproducts…I will be focusing entirely on my own infoproducts going forward.

    Here’s why…

    1. You can get traffic through other means than Google – Amazon Kindle, Apple ibooks, Clickbank Marketplace, etc… where you are not as dependent on Google

    2. Ramp up your affiliate program and attract whoever is top of the SERPS at that time…you have the freedom to move from affiliate to affiliate and let them work out how to position at the top

    3. Having your own infoproduct makes list building much more effective (people see you as an expert and are more likely to jump on board) which means you can continue to market to them even when Google gets bitchy

    4. You have multiple ways to monetize your content…you can take the content in an ebook you sell and re-purpose it offering a higher-priced course, a weekly coaching call, a 1-day seminar, or even license your content selectively to others (we pulled in 10K recently just for licensing one of our ebooks for use in one exclusive private membership site where it would not interfere with our own market.

    Of course I’ll always enhance profits by referring affiliate products, but these latest moves by Google just convince me more that producing your own products is the way to go.


  • 102 Tamian // Jun 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Has anyone ever recovered from Penguin?

  • 103 Steve // Jun 21, 2012 at 10:26 am

    SO THAT’S WHY MY GOOGLE TRAFFIC IS WAY, WAY DOWN! I thank you for this post! It is most helpful!!!

    Common Cents

  • 104 john // Jun 22, 2012 at 11:54 am

    After letting all this penguin madness stew in my brain for a little while, I am thinking the smart thing to do is actually build a brand. And the easy way to do that is a shit ton of direct response advertising.

    Look at p90x for example… They are now a premium brand and 100 percent of their exposure is paid TV advertising!

    When it comes to websites, is it really any different? I don’t think so. It doesn’t matter how someone found you (paid or organic), but rather once you become big enough you become a brand by default.

    So doesn’t it make sense to use every traffic source available to you? Plus all the paid traffic you drive will help your seo in the form of chrome browser people using it and coming back and giving you some nice usage statistics for google to munch on. And let’s not forget how more traffic is going to lead to natural links anyways.

    Seems to me like the way forward is to build something you totally could sell.

  • 105 Celeste Schooley // Jun 28, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Amazing post! You touched on most things that I assumed would be the way to go now but you brought up so many new and good points. I think we will be using more press releases in the future for news worthy stuff! Thanks for the very, long detailed post – I forwarded it to all members of my team.

  • 106 SEO Consultants // Jul 5, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Great blog post although I have only read half of it. Must have taken you a while to put this together.

  • 107 SEO News Anfang Juli ? Seokratie // Jul 6, 2012 at 6:12 am

    [...] letzten Updates haben weltweit für verärgerte Blogposts von SEOs gesorgt. Den Artikel von Chris Rempel sollte man sich auf jeden Fall durchlesen, auch wenn er sehr lang ist. Es stehen darin viele Wahrheiten wie etwa “Anyone with half a [...]

  • 108 Stefan // Jul 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Even two months after a great article. Thank you so much for this! (Me too, I lost 80% of my traffic and 95% of my earnings on April, 24th.) Now, what’s about a follow up in which you tell us eager Penguin-loosers, which of your experiments and strategies turned out to be successful?

  • 109 Emmanuel Ajesin // Jul 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Quite a lengthy and informative post!

  • 110 john sokayama // Jul 23, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Google sucks, that’s my only comment. Thanks for the great post.

  • 111 suvens // Jul 26, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Great post but how could you manage to write such a big post ….lol:) Above all Thanks for Sharing!:)

  • 112 Stevie B // Aug 7, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Only found this today and what a top, info filled and no BS article. I went down he mini-site route about 3 years ago however I didn’t use multi-seo experiment approach.

    My first site was low competition but successful so, by and large, I copied the formula. About 50 EMDs all text based and really ugly but fast loading. Some rank on page 1 some on page 2 – 5 and some don’t rank at all. Go figure. I’ll swap things around and see what happens.


  • 113 Letting Links // Aug 9, 2012 at 2:02 am

    My Sites have the problem of higher percentage of backlinks points towards a single Anchor Text and am currently working to dilute the Anchor text and hope to see better results comming up.

  • 114 Hector // Sep 18, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    Wow very informative post, have to give you some props. Most of my websites were also hit because of my lack of anchor text diversity, but hey instead of spending my valuable time i hired a free lancer to start building some higher pr backlinks with a huge variety of keywords for my anchor text, i.e :”click here, more info, and others. If interested my personal freelancer is the owner of Juicy Links, he does great work if interested go check him out at, if not then hey get to using your time wisely google isn’t going to wait forever! ha

  • 115 Jacob // Jan 19, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Beast post indeed Chris. Lol at the response from Ros.

    Glad I gave it a re-read. Still spammin, jammin, and building spanchor links by the bushel in 2013.

  • 116 Jayde // Sep 14, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    I think you’ve covered just about everything you set out to do in this post. Apart from revealing “safe” networks, which is understandable :) Anyone can follow this advice down to the letter, especially creating your own network of sites in your niche and experiment with different link profiles. My main goal now is to carefully filter any links to our authority sites.

    After doing some of my own research I think you could even up the percentages of branded anchors, I see high ranking sites with as much as 70% branded anchor text. Google can figure out the keywords onsite. Something which worked years ago then died out as people understood the loop holes in Google. But branded anchoring has always worked regardless and probably always will. Play Safe.

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