SEO Still Works After Penguin

I haven’t posted in a while because I have been busy building paid traffic campaigns but I haven’t stopped SEO projects.

In fact, I have started a simple niche site after Google Penguin update and so far my SEO efforts seem to work even after all the crazy updates that Google threw at us in March and April this year.

The site has only about 30 pages of content and few hundred links. I have actually done things a bit differently than normal to get rankings, but it’s still all about content and backlinks.


The site has been online for maybe 2 months or so. As you can see the traffic picked up just recently on the 6th of June. It actually hit the front page of Google for some of my targeted keywords on that day which is a good sign.

Does it make money?

Not much yet because I haven’t monetized it well, but I will try to boost the income. I think it has made $252 in the last 2 months. There is no Adsense on it and only 1 review page for an affiliate product was added.

So what did I do differently this time to get on top of Google?

Well, for starters I put a lot of weight on the content itself. Content was kind of the priority. I did build links to it but not at the rate I usually do for affiliate sites.

I also made sure we were posting content that wasn’t targeting any particular keywords. This diluted the keyword density on the homepage.

To be honest, this project proves the new concept I have wrote about before. You need to optimize your sites so they are not overoptimized.

It’s actually funny that Google wanted to level the playing field but as you can see there is still a sure way to rank niche sites even after all the updates. The only difference is that now you just need to change your strategy a little bit. Content and links still produce results…period.

Here is what I have done so far:

1. Added 1 Post Per Week (On Average) – I made sure we were constantly adding content while I was working on getting backlinks. The content we produced is top notch and some posts are longer than 1300 words. We launched the site with some initial content though.

2. Didn’t Use Anchor Text For Links – I think I might have used anchor text 3-4 times but majority of the links point through phrases like “click here to visit”, “visit this site”, “check out this post” etc.

3. Didn’t Use Tags – Google doesn’t like tags especially if your site is small and it hasn’t gained much authority yet. It treats them as duplicate pages so I prefer not to have them at all.

4. Affiliate Links Are Nofollowed & Cloaked – I actually have been doing this on all my sites but now I made it a strict rule to insert the “nofollow” tag for every affiliate link. Oh and never use more than 2 affiliate links per page.

5. Slow Link Velocity – I tried to add links slowly from authority domains. I also made sure our links were on quality pages that are indexed with good PR.

6. Web Directory Submission – I submitted the site to only a handful  of relevant high PR directories. I think directories help you establish your trust factor. After all they are editorial links that according to Google is ok to “buy”.

7. Made Sure The Site Looks Decent – I use Thesis for most of my sites because it’s easy to customize the look and feel. The site has a nice looking header and has this cool clean layout so people stick around longer.

8. Social Signals – I made it easy for people to share the content and initially I did use Fiverr to get some FB shares and Tweets. Honestly though, I hate doing that but the truth is that people are more likely to share if they see that the content has been shared by others already. Maybe it was an unnecessary step because people are now actually sharing some of the posts.

9. Didn’t Use Google Analytics Or GWT – I didn’t want Google to associate this domain name with my other sites because I wanted to test my new strategy. I am not really sure if using GWT could cause a problem but just to be safe I decided to keep Google away as far as possible from my stats.

So that’s pretty much it. You can still rank affiliate sites on Google and do well with it. I don’t think backlinks are going to be discounted any time soon in their algorithm, but you do need to make sure you get quality links and don’t overdo with anchor text links.

And if you wonder why I haven’t revealed the URL it’s because it could be easily destroyed with Negative SEO. I think you could point 10k links at it and the site would just disappear within days. So until Google fixes this loophole I am going to keep my stuff underground.

I thought I would make this post to show you that it’s still possible to rank for competitive keywords not in years but within just couple of months if done right. If you are not getting results then maybe you need to reevaluate your strategy and start doing things differently, but the opportunities are still out there and there is plenty of money to be made.


19 thoughts on “SEO Still Works After Penguin

  1. Pawel – good for you. My own site was hit by Penguin (and a manual penalty), and to be honest, the links are so bad it’s easier to start over. However, I started one domain – keywords in URL, no inbound links, content half finished – already page 2 for the main target keyword, page 1 for others. It’s madness, really… 😉

  2. Excellent read Pawel, some light at the end of the tunnel, so the Google sniper site can still be a viable business as long as the content is more than 3 pages deep and added regularly. Thanks for all the tips.

  3. It definitely works. Seems like if you don’t push it too hard and just keep a steady link velocity (supported by quality content of course) then it’s easy to rank.

  4. Great to hear that. I would love to see a post on how you built successful website starting with keyword research and finishing with monetisation. A live case study and not only theory.

  5. Good case study here. I think the key to linkbuilding going forward is too not worry about quantity and just focus quality. Very few legitimate websites get 10,000 links per month… it is probably more like 5 links per month!

  6. I wish good content worked on this blog but Google still hasn’t removed the penalty I got in March for unnatural links.

  7. Love your case study, you are always ahead of game. On the other hand, there are guys spamming inbox with other case study WSO which is launched today.

  8. Hi Pawel – I’ve been an avid follower for a while now. The case study sheds tremendous light on many unanswered questions I had. appreciate it much.

  9. Pawel thanks for another valuable post. I bought your WSO recently. Your work is consistently great, so kudos! My question is regarding backlinks. Can you give us some ideas on where to find some high relevancy backlinks, both free and paid?

  10. Building links is not that easy. For every link you get you also need to produce quality content. I don’t buy links, except links from directories like BOTW, Yahoo Directory, or a few other ones. Guest posting still works great so I would concentrate on that if I were you. Blasting blog comments or forum links doesn’t work anymore. I wouldn’t bother with it at all.

  11. Hi Pawel, I’m curious about “3. Didn’t Use Tags”. Hadn’t heard before that G actively dislikes the use of tags. If it’s just about duplicate content isn’t it enough to no-index the tag pages?

  12. Tag pages are treated as “supplemental content” or duplicate content because they usually just have links to other posts on your site. If you own a massive website with tens of thousands (or a few hundred thousand) of pages then it might be treated differently, but for smaller sites I don’t see any benefit in using them. If you do use it, then yes, nofollow and noindex them.

  13. Pawel, great post. When Google hit you with the penalty did you receive anything in GWTs? I just got smacked pretty hard by Penguin and I don’t see any messages from Google. My site was on page 1 and now I have been kicked to page 38. I really don’t have that many backlinks, but I know that I may have gotten hit because the anchor text matched my domain name. I’m wondering if I should just start over as well. My site was getting around 160 unique visitors a day and that has dropped to around 70. Site has only been up 9 months so I’m wondering if I’m just patient and keep creating good content if it will eventually climb back. I’m also working on getting traffic from other sources. Congrats on your new site and how well it is ranking.

  14. I got the unnatural links message and when you get that it doesn’t matter what kind of content you have your site might never recover from that, unless you are a big brand then it’s just a slap on the wrist.

  15. Great post, this gave me hope for my future affiliate efforts. Being a content writer, I had no worries about poor quality content on my pages. I worried that with all of these changes, would my work be in vain, even though I’d provide a high-quality content experience?

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