The Link Building Strategies Of 5 Sites That Survived Penguin 3.0

On October 17th Google rolled out a refresh for Penguin (dubbed as Google Penguin 3.0) marking the 6th update to the algorithm since it was launched in April 2012.

A lot of the posts I have read have focused on the ‘losers’ of the update so I want to take a look at some winners.

What You Will Learn

  • All about the Penguin 3.0 update
  • Examples of 5 sites that survived & their link building strategies
  • Why this is the best Penguin update so far
  • What you should be doing
  • What you shouldn’t be doing
  • 2 simple link building rules I follow

Google really choose their times to roll out these updates, not only did they drop it on a Friday night that had millions cancel their weekend plans but they have done it right before the start of the Christmas shopping season.

As with every Google update people entire lives & businesses have been turned upside down without warning. But on the flip side, there have been a lot of winners feeling the opposite effects.

I’m going to show you a few sites that have won during the update and reveal key details like site age, number of indexed pages, content strategy, were they using analytics/webmaster tools, link building strategy & niche.

But before we get into that let’s take a look at what we know about Penguin 3 so far.

What We Know About Google Penguin 3.0

On Monday Pierre Far posted a message on Google+ confirming Penguin 3 which is embedded below-

You should always pay attention to how Google word things and from that, we know that-

  1. It started on October 17th (Friday night)
  2. The update is still ongoing
  3. It’s a global update
  4. So far it only affects 1% of US search queries
  5. It is a refresh, meaning the actual algorithm hasn’t been updated

Really all that means is the update hasn’t taken full effect yet and as of Monday had only affected US search queries. So if you haven’t been hit, don’t start celebrating just yet.

A Friendlier Penguin

What is evident is that this update has been a very soft Penguin update compared to past updates.

Granted Google say they haven’t finished rolling it out yet but usually, in the initial day, everyone is going stir crazy – this is like a gentle tickle compared to previous uppercuts.

If we take a look at MozCast you wouldn’t even know an update happened-


That is also backed up by SERP Metrics that shows little activity around the update time but showed a huge spike at the start of October.


It is only really when we look at Algoroo does the update really stand out from the crowd-


But even so, there wasn’t that much of a fluctuation – no way near that of Penguin 2.0 so it does appear that Google hasn’t really introduced anything new to the algorithm and simply refreshed its data.

In fact the Moz team went all out on their criticism of the update and just how little it actually did.

The Good News

One of the biggest problems with the last Penguin update was that it was over a year ago on October 4th 2013.

That means that anyone that got hit at that point has been unable to recover even if they cleaned up their link profiles and submitted reconsideration requests. Until the data is refreshed it is all meaningless as it’s an algorithmic penalty, not a manual one.

This has created a lot of frustration and in response, Google has confirmed that Penguin refreshes will happen much more regularly now just as they do with Panda.

Have You Been Hit?

Everything indicates this is nothing more than a refresh of the updates they added over a year ago.

So if you have been hit it is because your link building strategy was not Penguin 2.0 or 2.1 proof to begin with. Not because Google has added new signals, they have just updated the data.

What that does mean though is we already have a good idea of how to recover a site that has been hit with Penguin 3. There is nothing ‘new’ to work out and is just a case of cleaning things up and awaiting the next refresh.

So if you have been penalised do not worry, it is easier to recover from Penguin now than ever before. Indeed you can just follow my Google penalty recovery guide or keep reading.

Penguin 3 Recovery Case Study

Yesterday saw the first Penguin 3 recovery case study come to light. This tells the story of a site that got hit by Penguin 2.0 but recovered with Penguin 3.

They lost 66% of their organic traffic which had huge real world knock on effects for everyone in the business.

After cleaning up their link profile nothing happened – until Penguin 3 was released and they saw a 300% recovery in organic traffic.

Over the coming weeks more and more of these case studies will be published, which will help you analyse and improve your own SEO efforts in time for the next refresh.

I will be including these in my monthly link round ups as I find them!

Sites That Beat Google Penguin 3.0

So let’s take a look at some real-world examples of sites that either beat Penguin 3, saw huge increases or recovered with the update.

All of these examples are client sites. One of the advantages of an SEO agency is you get to work with a lot of sites of all different shapes and sizes across a wide variety of niches.

I’m going to reveal as much as I can about the sites without breaking client confidentiality.

Site 1 – IT Software

This site is for a big international IT software company that my team have been working with for the past 3 months.

This is a particularly strange example because the site has took a hit across some lower traffic terms while high traffic target terms have jumped.

At this stage it is hard to say if this is directly related to Penguin but it certainly correlates with the update.

Site 1 Details

Here are all of the dirty details of the site-

  • Age Of Site: Created Feb 2002 (12 years old) – no drops
  • # Indexed Pages: 172,000
  • Hosting: Dedicated
  • Whois Protection: No
  • Using Google WMT: Yes
  • Using Google Analytics: Yes
  • Content Added: Weekly
  • Type Of Content: Sales & info pages for products & regular blog posts
  • Link Building Strategy: White hat out reach & PR
  • Budget: £3,500

Site 1 Ranking

Here is a screenshot of the rankings-


Site 1 Traffic

Here you can see how the update affected traffic-


Site 2 – Kids Clothing & Toys E-Commerce

This is a unique site my team work with since August that sells a range of clothing & toys for children online.

Looking at rankings you can see they have had great increases during the Penguin 3 update with traffic growing steadily.

Interestingly they made the swap to HTTPS 2 weeks ago which results in a fluctuation in the number of indexed pages as Google replaces the HTTP version with the HTTPS version of the site.

Site 2 Details

Here are all of the dirty details of the site-

  • Age Of Site: Created 1994, acquired by current company in 2013
  • # Indexed Pages: 652,000
  • Hosting: Dedicated
  • Whois Protection: No
  • Using Google WMT: Yes
  • Using Google Analytics: Yes
  • Content Added: Daily
  • Type Of Content: New products with unique content are added daily along with the occasional blog post
  • Link Building Strategy: White hat out reach & PR bolstered by a few exclusive private blog networks
  • Budget: £2,700

Site 2 Ranking

Here is a screenshot of the rankings-


Site 2 Traffic

Here you can see how the update affected traffic-


Site 3 – Dieting/Nutrition

This site is one of the longer serving clients that focuses on dieting and nutrition which has quickly dominated the entire niche.

As the site has been ranked with private blog networks it has delivered consistently good quality content seeing over 400,000 Facebook fans which in turn earns a lot of natural links.

It has remained steady since April and throughout the Penguin 3 update ranking for some big terms including 27100, 90500, 110000 & 555000 monthly volume keywords.

Previously the site owner had been wiped out by Penguin and started this site while 301’ing the old Penguin penalised site to this new one.

Site 3 Details

Here are all of the dirty details of the site-

  • Age Of Site: October 2013
  • # Indexed Pages: 2,100
  • Hosting: Shared
  • Whois Protection: Yes
  • Using Google WMT: No
  • Using Google Analytics: No
  • Content Added: Weekly
  • Type Of Content: Recipes & diet information
  • Link Building Strategy: Pure private blog network strategy but now earns tons of natural links due to niche dominance
  • Budget: £2,700

Site 3 Ranking

Here is a screenshot of the rankings-


Site 4 – Pet Products

This is an Australian site that my team have been working on since May with a spammy link history and got hit with Penguin previously.

It is an exact match .com.au domain and solely targets Australian SERPs.

Site 4 Details

Here are all of the dirty details of the site-

  • Age Of Site: Created 2009, acquired by current owner in 2012
  • # Indexed Pages: 2,840
  • Hosting: Dedicated
  • Whois Protection: No
  • Using Google WMT: Yes
  • Using Google Analytics: Yes
  • Content Added: Rarely
  • Type Of Content: Product pages with unique content, no blog or content marketing
  • Link Building Strategy: Pure private blog network
  • Budget: $1,500

Site 4 Ranking

Here is a screenshot of the rankings for the Penguin 3 update-


And here you can see a longer-term look at the rankings-


Site 4 SEMRush

Unfortunately I don’t have the long long term data available as they have only been with the agency since May.

But this screenshot from SEMRush shows their organic search growth since 2011 and shows when they hit with a previous Penguin update in October 2013.


Site 5 – Playground Manufacturer

This company manufactures and sells children’s playgrounds and have been working with them since June.

When they first started they had absolutely zero search visibility.

Site 5 Details

Here are all of the dirty details of the site-

  • Age Of Site: Created 1998, acquired by current owner in 2011
  • # Indexed Pages: 505
  • Hosting: Dedicated
  • Whois Protection: No
  • Using Google WMT: Yes
  • Using Google Analytics: Yes
  • Content Added: Rarely
  • Type Of Content: Product & info pages about the business with a few blog posts
  • Link Building Strategy: Pure private blog network with a couple of 301’s
  • Budget: $2,000

Site 5 Ranking

Here is a screenshot of the rankings-


Site 5 Traffic

Here you can see how the update affected traffic-


So What Has Changed?

Well not a lot really – this is just a data refresh and because of that we already know what doesn’t work and what does.

Many people have evolved their link building tactics since the last Penguin update by using much more varied anchor texts surrounded by relevant content, while others haven’t.

So here is a guide of what you should be avoiding and what is working as of now.

Things To Avoid

  1. Irrelevant spammy links
  2. Over optimised anchor text
  3. Unnatural spikes in link velocity
  4. Single links – eg no surrounding content just the link

Things That Work

  1. Truly private blog/site networks built right (there is a clue in the wording)
  2. Relevant links with relevant content
  3. Spun content
  4. Mixing up your anchor texts & using branded/generic terms
  5. Traditional outreach, broken link building, PR (not press releases)
  6. Strong social followings/engagement

I also think you should spend some time thinking about Scrittys predications – bear in mind they are nothing more than opinion, but that is opinion rooted with years of hands on experience.

Always think to the future with your link building. Experienced SEO’s that have ridden the waves of the past few years have great insights on what could come next and are worth you spare thoughts.

Even so – despite all of the updates my link building still lives and dies by 2 simple rules.

2 Simple Link Building Rules

I have 2 simple link building rules one is defining the holy grail of links as a relevant link surrounded by relevant content from an authoritative domain.

You can not get a better quality link than that and that is exactly the type of link we can create with truly private blog/site networks and have full control of. Nothing has changed in that regard.

The other link building rule I live by is simply “If it’s good enough to be in Google’s index, it’s good enough to link to my site”.

Spun content is still indexing well for me and as such it is good enough to point to my sites. The same is true if a domain is indexed in Google, a link from that domain is good enough for my site as long as its surrounded by relevant content with a relevant link.

This has remained true throughout all of the updates and if you combine the simplistic approach of both you end up with a diverse profile in terms of relevancy and authority.

Need Help With Your Site?

If you need help ranking your site my team will put together a bespoke package for you that is tailored to your businesses specific needs & goals.

Packages start from $1,000 per month and scale depending on your needs. Please submit a detailed enquiry and we will arrange a call with you.

86 Responses

  1. Raghu

    Right I have seen my sites got some boost after the latest update, for some I have not done anything but for some I did some High PR PBN links through a guy who offered me niche high PR links.

    But the boost after getting High PR contexual links are not sufficient enough to get on firs pate, the contenxual links were just about 15 to 20, I did not find any other source to get the PBN links.

    Also, is true that building links through Direct URL, Brand and Generic using Articles, Web 2.0s, Videos, PDF, Photosharing and then combined with PBN with anchor text links will give a good boost?

    How to get PBN links for different niche? Any comment about linksmanagement.com or hpbacklinks.com offeirng PBN?

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 26th, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      I haven’t heard of either of those services but start looking at building your own network to push you over the edge to number 1

  2. David Peattie

    I became aware of your company because you have apparently paid to sponsor ads on Facebook which FB then inserts into people’s personal newsfeed/timelines.
    I have made FB aware that I do not like this practice and that I will not support, purchase or use any service or goods from any company that sponsors these intrusive ads.
    Since FB is apparently disinclined to stop that practice, I am now taking the step of informing those companies who sponsor these ads that they won’t be getting me as a customer as long as they continue to do this. Maybe if enough companies realize that it’s actually costing them business instead of gaining them anything, it will have an effect.
    Please do not feel you need to respond to this message. Unless you’re going to tell me that your company is contacting Facebook and asking them to stop placing your company’s ads in people’s Timelines, there’s nothing you can say that is going to change my stance on this situation.
    Also, please do not respond if all you’re going to do is tell me how I can hide the ads or change my settings to block ads. I’m already aware of those things. I do hide the ads in addition to contacting you, and if I change my settings to block ads, it also blocks content that I want, so that’s not really a solution.
    Another thing: please, please, PLEASE do not respond by telling me that Facebook has to run ads or they won’t be able to do what they do for free anymore. I am not asking FB to stop running ads, nor am I insisting that you stop advertising on FB altogether. When I first signed up for FB, they already were running ads…on the side of the screen. That model seemed to work to keep them afloat for quite a long time; I see no reason to believe that they will suddenly go under or have to start charging users if the timeline ad model is discontinued. This is just another example of rampant greed on their part. To be honest, I think the only reason why they haven’t started inserting ads right in the middle of peoples’ personal posts to one another is because they’re afraid of the backlash they’d get from all users, not just me. And frankly, the insistence that some of the advertisers I’ve contacted on this already have that they have to explain the facts of life to me regarding FB’s use of paid ads, and how marketing works, and the like, is not only unnecessary, but comes across to me as petulant and whiny. If I’m not going to do business with someone for intruding onto my newsfeed, I’m damned sure not going to change my mind when they get all whiny and snotty about it.
    Finally, please do not respond and tell me you have no control over where Facebook places the ads or whose timelines they will appear in. You’re the one paying for the ad; you can ask them to not do the timelines at all and go back to the “side of screen” method if it suits you. If enough advertisers do that, as some of the ones I’ve contacted already have, it will start having an impact.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 6th, 2014 at 4:03 pm

      I have 3 solutions for you-

      1) I will stop running Facebook ads if you send over the money I would lose by doing so

      2) You have a lot of spare time – do something productive/positive with it

      3) Stop using Facebook, there are plenty of other social networks such as Ello

      I would also be happy to remove adverts from this blog entirely if you would be willing to replace the lost profits which ran at around $17,000 last month.

      Let me know which you choose.

      • David Peattie
        November 6th, 2014 at 4:14 pm

        In point of fact, you mentally deficient baboon, I didn’t really ask you to stop doing anything; I merely advised you that you won’t have me as a client as long as you’re using that particular mode of advertising. If you’re okay with that, then so be it.

        I would also have to ask why someone whose business is in the UK is allowing Facebook to target people in the United States with their ads. I wonder just how much business you attract from the USA with these ads. Furthermore, even if you do get a lot of marketing business for yourself from the FB ads, I would ask why you let FB target people who are not in business for themselves and have no money at all to spend on marketing, with you or anyone else. Wouldn’t the money you spend on this be better served by more competent targeting?

  3. Tyler Bailey

    Hey Matt,

    I have a question, not exactly about penguin but about how you use your rank tracker (from link-assistant). My question is, how many proxies do you use in your proxy rotation in order to not get failed results? I also assume you are using either private or semi-private.

    Also do make use of the CAPTCHA settings, and if you do is it the “seo powersuite anti-captcha” or “death by captcha”?

    I’ve been using this rank tracker for a while but recently have been having issues with getting consistent results.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 3rd, 2014 at 2:20 pm


      Yes semi dedicateds from BuyProxies and how many you need depends on how many keywords your checking, how many pages and your delay settings.

      Yes I use DBC as well

      • Tyler Bailey
        November 3rd, 2014 at 5:21 pm


        I have been using semi’s from buyproxies as well. I tried using GSA CB for the captchas but no use there (almost fails each try). I’ll give DBC a try and maybe mess around with the delays.

        Thanks for the suggestions Matt.

        • Matthew Woodward
          November 4th, 2014 at 2:58 pm

          Try speaking with GSA support, I have CB and it works fantastically!

          • Tyler Bailey
            November 4th, 2014 at 11:59 pm

            I’ll do that, thanks =)

  4. Ozair Akhtar

    I really like your post as you have shown a positive impact of such updates. Similarly my client La Serre Bistro Dubai’s traffic is also on the rise even after the update.

    Although it was about 9,323+ last month in September, though the Oct 2014 has one day left today but still the website traffic has crossed over 10,000 visitors and more and more are coming too.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 30th, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Great to hear you did well with the update, congratulations!

  5. samantha

    one of my sites has lost ranking, should i use disavow tool to remove all links? i hardly created any links, how to find culprit links?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 29th, 2014 at 3:40 pm


      You need to do a full link analysis, then go through a removal process and only then, if all else fails – disavow.

  6. Ashley

    Hi Matt! When you say:
    “It is a refresh, meaning the actual algorithm hasn’t been updated”

    What’s the difference between a Penguin refresh and “actual algorithm”?
    You mean Google hasn’t changed the ranking factor yet? Thanks.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 25th, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Yes they are still targeting the same things as Penguin 2/2.1 but now they have updated the dataset with data from the past year

  7. Joseph

    Great case studies by you again!

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 25th, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      Thanks Joseph

  8. Liudas

    Now, it’s clear to my why I was seeing these weird spikes on my penalized blog.
    Did Google went soft…

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 29th, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      Not if your seeing spikes :P

  9. drk

    Usually I am the last to comment, but will take the first spot as it is available.
    I’m curious about the private blog networks you’ve mentioned. Do you mean a network of sites, you’ve biuld for the sake of linking your projcts? There is a growing debate of their effectiveness, most folks say they were penalized. It seems you’ve managed to stay under the radar somehow.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Actually you are last as I work through approvals this morning sorry :P

      What I call a PRIVATE blog/site network is probably different to what other people call them. There are only 1 or 2 people in the world that even know my network sites exist, and even if a real human does read them – they wouldn’t know the difference.

  10. Hammad Rafique

    I have not seen any downs in all of my blogs and also the people screaming about penguin 3’s penalization were using massive anchor text spam. No traffic ups and downs in any of my webs.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      Yeah if you haven’t evolved your tactics in the past year you will have got hit this time around =\

  11. Admin

    I have a question. What is the tracking tool/software that you are using in your printscreens for tracking keywords?

    About the content, I totaly agree that things didn’t change for good websites where people put real business, real products and so on.

  12. Brian

    Very good article Matthew and very helpful given the amount of BS that gets circulated following a Google update.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      No worrys!

  13. Joe Fletcher

    Weird refresh if you ask me. I dunno if its rushed?

    Pressured by us as SEO’s, business owners etc. to at least refresh Penguin so anyone who is waiting to see their hard work has paid off so they can recover.

    I know its potentially not fully rolled out yet (quote Pierre “It’s a slow worldwide rollout, so you may notice it settling down over the next few weeks.”) so we could see a lot happen this week.

    Cutts… What’s happened to him? Early October he was due to return.

    Nice to see you got some wins from P3 Matt anyway.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Yeah its just a refresh of data, a clear sign they are failing to keep up with the times/detecting modern link spam.

  14. Diego

    Hi Matthew, a lot of useful informations as ever.
    When you say Budget: $ x.xxx, you are talking your fee on a monthly basis? Thanks

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Yes I am

  15. Jon

    Some nice case studies here, but FYI it’s ‘Strategies’ not ‘Strategys’.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      Fixed thanks :)

  16. myrujukan

    it seems some website will loss traffic and some will got it benefit

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      You mean like every single Google update of the past 14 years?

  17. olaf

    Hey Matthew,

    Interesting you say spun content is still working. I use article builder for most of my tier 2’s and google will usually index and publish the content within 24 hours. Like you said, if it’s good enough for Google, it’s good enough for me.

    In my experience, if you spin content properly it’s virtually impossible for Google to tell the difference and I doubt they ever will be able to, which is probably more important. If the article itself offers useful content, it will attract links naturally, which are of course the best kind of links.

    Anyway, my question to you is about your blog networks.
    Do you build out a blog network for each client or use the same blogs for all your clients?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:40 pm


      Yes truly hand spun content that is used the right number of times will never be detected.

      Each client has their own network, which isn’t actually a network – there is no ‘network’ about it

  18. RTechShow

    Thanks Matt, for this wonderful and informative presentation. It will really help my site to rank faster.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      Good luck :)

  19. Joe

    Thanks for the valuable information and the tips on your 2 simple link building rules

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      No problem!

  20. Danny

    Hello Matt,

    Fantastic post. Really clears alot of doubts formulated at the forums regarding the hits.

    Anyway Matt, I was wondering if you could create an ultimate guide to link building for a small 6-8 page site. Personally, I start with blog comments for a month and then look into stronger links.. I’m sure there are lots of people who’re doing micro-niche site marketing and would love to find a good seo strategy.

    Thanks Man

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:42 pm


      Yeah forums are a good place to get an idea but always remember what I call spun content and what someone elses calls spun content are usually 2 very very different things. The same when people talk about blog networks.

      The number of pages a site has is irrelevant to how you do the link building. I wouldn’t waste my time with micro niche sites.

      • ChrisG
        October 28th, 2014 at 12:38 pm

        “I wouldn’t waste my time with micro niche sites.”

        Hi Matt. Could you expand on what you mean by that, please? Do you mean in the sense of link-building (as part of the no-network site network) or as money sites (for driving affiliate sales)?

        • Matthew Woodward
          October 28th, 2014 at 2:07 pm

          I find people end up going into to much of a micro niche which places a growth ceiling from day 1. I like to go upstream with it and not be so limited.

  21. rafael

    Hi you said that Spun content is still working. Are you using spun content for your blog network ?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:42 pm

      Not for the blog network no

  22. Mike

    What are your thoughts on relevant do follow blog comments with pr that allow links in text?

    Do you use directories at all just for diversification?

    I’ve been doing this for a while but never used either of those link types. Just curious if they are effective at all or toxic.


    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      No problem with either of those as long as they match my 2 rules

  23. Ian

    Great post Matthew. This update seems to be quite low key in my opinion also, none of my sites have seen significant traffic spikes or drops.
    Looks like Moz went off on one because they couldn’t fully measure any real changes in this update and as such had no news to report!

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      They still made news out of it :)

  24. Line M

    Hey Matt, great stuff!

    Shame we can’t see those blurred lines in those reports, but still valuable content :)

    Especially the “single links” part. I already knew that, but somehow made a mistake placing single links on couple of websites myself. Good to remind not to do that anymore :)

    Can you tell me the name of the keyword tracking software that you are using in your reports?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      hahaha got to keep some secrets. The tracking is with RankTracker

  25. nik

    Good reading

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:46 pm


  26. Leith

    Interesting article!

    “Truly private blog/site networks built right (there is a clue in the wording)” – this.

    PBN’s still work pretty well considering you build it right.

    And I think you were supposed to write “Strategies” in the title and not “Strategys”?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      Using the term PBN kind removes my clue :P

      Fixed the strategies boo, I suck at grammer :)

  27. Grant

    Fantastic read. Thanks as always!

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      No worrys :)

  28. Line Media

    Hey Matt,

    Great advice about not to have just link with no surrounding text. These single links are something that slipped out of my mind.

    What is that tool you use for tracking rankings?


    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      Yeah that is by definition the worst link you can get! The software is RankTracker

      • linko
        October 29th, 2014 at 7:25 pm

        What about blogroll link?

        • Matthew Woodward
          October 30th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

          I wouldn’t bother with them personally

          • linko
            October 30th, 2014 at 6:16 pm

            Aha, then how do you link the PBN back to the money site? Do you add the links to the money site in every post and for each of the PBN? Also the article (on topic I assume) will remain on first page?


          • Matthew Woodward
            November 2nd, 2014 at 3:07 pm

            I only have 1 link to my money site from each site in the network, the link placement is random each time.

  29. Nandor

    Hi Matthew,

    Great post as always. Your first site example is an IT software company, one of my local biz sites is an IT Services company, I’ve noticed something weird, one of my keyword is “it services (city)” so when you search for “it services San Franciso” for example, it used to show only IT Service companies on the first page but since the latest update it shows a bunch of irrelevant results like sailing services, legal services, animal services etc.. What is your take on that? Thanks.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      I have no experience with the niche/those SERPS so don’t have a take sorry.

  30. I. C. Daniel

    Glad to see sites survived, I’m sure they will pass next Google updates too if conscious steps are taken.

    Thanks for sharing the Google Penguin recovery link, will check it out now as I’m interested, just in case ever need such info.

    Now you have 10 g+1 because I share it too. See you on your next updates Matthew. Always a pleasure.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks for the share :)

  31. Charles

    Hi Matthew,

    I don’t get the first case : how can a website who is going white hat be hit by Penguin ? What do you mean by “PR” ? Public Relation ?

    Aren’t those links supposed to be “Natural” ? Matt told “the point is not that your links seem natural, but that they ARE natural”. Lie ? XD

    Cheers, and thank you for all the great posts you write for us :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:52 pm


      First of all there is no such thing as white hat, grey hat or black hat. As soon as you build ANY type of link you violate webmaster guidelines and as such its all black hat however you label it, your manipulating Google.

      Yes PR is public relations, press, media etc actual marketing

  32. Vyt

    PR (not Press release) means?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Public relations, eg actual marketing. Not just a script kiddy in his bedroom with GSA.

  33. Sascha

    Hi Matthew, great article! What about tiered lin kbuilding? I have read in some forums that this is now counterproductive.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Got some data to support that?

      • Sascha
        October 24th, 2014 at 8:10 pm

        That was the finding from the first round of rate of many patients . Apparently it’s 50/50 , so it does not seems to be the deciding factor .

  34. DomainMining

    Thanks for the analysis! Truly private networks still work and are very powerful. Just don’t let Google find you even if they are truly private. In other words, leave no footprint behind.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Exactly :)

  35. Walt Heisenberg Jr

    Great article Matt,

    PBNs are still working great for me as long as they’re built right and the domains are picked properly.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Indeed they do :)

      • Anne Larter
        August 28th, 2016 at 1:16 am

        Just wondering how you buy PBN domains for .com.au when you have to have an ABN and proper name. .com.au can’t use privacy and I’m not sure how to stay under the radar when buying these? Only just getting into PBN’s.


  36. maurice

    you are always my seo mentor

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:54 pm


  37. Anonymousaffiliate

    The last site is getting 30 traffic per day, it’s ridiculous. I think it has already been hit with Penguin.

    Furthermore, what do you mean by “Budget” ?

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 24th, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Yes, very targeted high converting terms from a site that previously had 0 per day.

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