Link Building After The Penguin Updates

This is a repost of an article I was asked to contribute to Greg’s old website.  It is reposted in its entirety here.

Please note that SEO has changed since the time of this article (late 2013), so contact me for more up to date strategies.  Nonetheless there are some helpful tips here which are still valid.


The Types Of Links Which May Be “Friendly” As Tier 1 Links In The Post-Penguin 2.1 Environment

Many people involved with SEO may have legitimate concerns in the post-Penguin 2.1 environment.  Even with solid strategies being employed before the update, many professionals have had their strategies rendered worthless or counterproductive since the first week of October 2013.  These strategies could have included posting inadequately-spun content on only one type of platform, having too high of a percentage of the link anchor text containing the exact keyword, placing content on properties with low authority (Page Rank, Domain/Page Authority, etc.), or having too much “spammy” link content on a third tier of a typical tiered-linking system.

There is much discussion about how to recover lost rankings for affiliate sites, client sites, personal websites and authority sites.  Such discussions have revolved around changing anchor texts on first-tier (Tier 1) links which you can control, using the Google disavow tool, getting more social signals, improving on-page loading times and making websites more mobile-friendly.  All of these are helpful strategies, but no single strategy is likely to be the “magic bullet” sought when a panic situation happens.

One strategy which can help you regain (or even improve) your search engine rankings is to create more top-quality (Tier 1) links which point directly to a page on your website.  Additionally, they have to be formatted properly and in “Penguin-friendly” ratios.  The reasons for this recommendation include:

  • You can be in control of the links, including changing or removing them if needed in the future
  • You can structure the wording of your anchor text and the words surrounding the links
  • Images, videos, infographic content, podcasts and other multimedia has the potential to be embedded and generate a quality link
  • Link building software (e.g. GSA, SENukeX, Magic Submitter) can be used to boost these new Tier 1 links, if created properly
  • Previous content, such as images or PDF content, can be used separately

The goal is to focus on value-added content, ideally which has some sort of “verification” factor to it.  For example, a video on YouTube has the ability to be pulled – or at least voted with thumbs down ratings – should it fail to provide the YouTube community with value.  Likewise, value-added comments on industry blogs must be approved by the moderator especially if there are follow-up comments.

Going forward, you have over 30 options for the types of Tier 1 links which have high likelihood of being Penguin 2.1-friendly.  What you want to do is focus on getting your anchor text ratios in order.

As a rule of thumb, consider a “1 for 10″ breakdown.  This means that for every 10 quality (tier 1) links you create, only one should have the exact keyword for which you want to rank, pointing to a specific web-page on your website (or other web property).  The other nine links can be broken down like this:

*  1-2 links can be longer tail keywords, perhaps containing the main keyword
*  3-4 links should be “generic” anchor text like “click here”, “visit this page”, etc.
*  2-3 links should be focused (if applicable) around brand names, names of people, etc.
*  1-2 links should be derivations of the URL (with or without “http : //”, using capitalization on the first letter, etc.)

Of course, you should use as much unique content as you possibly can.  If you choose to use spun content, make every attempt to have the originally unique content spun at the sentence and/or paragraph level.  If you can, include multimedia such as images, videos, audio files and other complementary material.

Here are the roughly 30 types of links which you may wish to consider for your next batch of properly formatted and created Tier 1 links.  You are welcome to add comments about these as well as strategies to create quality Tier 2 links to these newly created Tier 1 links.


1) Citations (business directory listings) like Yelp,, Kudzu, etc. — obviously for local (primarily)

2) Intelligent, unique comments on high authority sites such as industry websites and blogs (like for national keywords/authority and on local newspaper, radio, TV and local magazine sites for local SEO

3) Guest posts.  These opportunities can be found using all of the appropriate search strings (e.g. KEYWORD + “guest blogger”)

4) Private blog network –> unique hosting accounts, unique/relevant content (including images & videos), unique themes, varied anchor text, varied plug-ins, and even varied platforms (not all just WordPress).  Be smart and careful with these!

5) The top 40-50 article directory sites based on Alexa/PR/Moz Authority.  Again focus on those which require some sort of verification before going live.  You also may post unique, helpful content on sites which even may pay you a little bit of money (e.g.

6) Paid press release distribution on quality generic distribution sites (e.g. or on industry-specific newswires. Obviously a release (with or without embedded video) may get picked up on other sites. If you want to be conservative, do not optimize the URL with a keyword in the anchor text.  Instead, go with a straight URL or the company name/brand name as the anchor text

7) Optimized videos on sites like YouTube + the YouTube channel

8) Podcasts w/ unique content and distributed on podcast directory sites which still have some decent PR/other authority. Also you may consider a channel w/ unique content on a site like with consistently-added content

9) Niche directories which have authority. Examples: industry/trade association directories or local chamber of commerce

10) Competitor backlinks (AHREFS, or MajesticSEO) and then run through AHREFS for Domain/Page Authority (or through Scrapebox for page-specific PR) or those with high relevance

11) Relevant forums which have some authority on the root domain. Optimized forum profile page and optimized signature files ONLY for those forum profiles where there are actual replies or forum thread starts

12) Social media platforms with legitimate, unique content (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, plus any niche-specific)

13) Answers on sites like Yahoo Answers or similar high-authority answers sites

14) Manually created Web 2.0 pages with unique content and a decent profile page.  These are not necessarily SENuke or GSA SEREngines web 2.0 pages, but rather manually created ones which look like a real human created (or at least edited!) them

15) A service like which puts links on pages w/ PR and some measure of relevance (not always perfect, but okay a portion of the time)

16) Helpful, unique infographic images uploaded to infographic-sharing sites.  Also, you can provide source code to have people embed your infographic on their websites, linking back to your desired web page

17) Getting broken links on relevant sites cleaned up.  You can ask the webmaster to provide a link back to your web property; or, if appropriate, have the webmaster change the link from the broken one to your desired web property

18) Pinning relevant, interesting images on Pinterest and Instagram.  You also can upload, and link back to your desired web property, on image-sharing sites so long as the content is relevant and interesting

19) Interactive content such as quizzes, widgets and other interactive/dynamic content.  These can be added to sites like Quizilla and widget-sharing sites.  Make sure that the content is unique, timely and relevant.  Like the infographic content, you can provide source code to have people embed your infographic on their websites, linking back to your web property

20) Syndicating your blog content.  You can do this by syndicating your RSS feed, using WordPress services which share your content on other websites, sharing content via blog directories, etc.

21) Getting your content shared with volume on social news sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, etc.  This is different than traditional social media properties like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

22) Links acquired from sources other than traditional “guest posts”.  These include assisting reporters through services like Help A Reporter Out

23) Links on sites which permit discounts, incentives, giveaways, etc.  Focus on those which require some sort of verification process to minimize being in a “neighborhood” with spam

24) Relevant comments on EDU, GOV, MIL and other “hard to get” domains.  These can be tough to acquire, so be sure that the time invested is worth the effort

25) Sponsorship and/or donation links on scholastic (EDU) and organization links.  Ideally, see you can get social media or industry (or local) press about the donation to generate further links

26) Networking to get links.  An example at the local level is to ask a local hotel to provide a link to a local taxi website if the taxi service provides the hotel’s guests with quality service

27) Have others post on your website and then have them share the link to the post on your website through their social media accounts

28) Uploading relevant software to software directories to get links.  Be sure that this isn’t spam software, but actually valuable content which can be given favorable reviews and/or be worthy enough of being shared on social media

29) Any other types of links which can be generated by providing content through networking like Buzzstream and/or Buzzbundle

30) If possible, create helpful tutorials and share them on tutorial sites

31) Share unique content via PDF or slide content on sites like, and similar document-sharing sites.  Some e-book directories may qualify here; but focus on those which have the high levels of traffic and search engine authority to get a quality link

Additional quality links could be established by “paid reviews”/”paid blog posts”, classified ads (though most are temporary), getting other people to bookmark your content on their social bookmarking accounts (especially relevant ones) and a few other possible methods.

If you do not feel comfortable using any of the 30+ link types mentioned as Tier 1 links, then you likely can use them as Tier 2 links pointing to the Tier 1 links.  This allows for the customized indirect linking which Greg mentioned on his October 22, 2013 post.

Thank you for reading this far.  Feel free to comment on additional types of Tier 1 links which you believe which are Penguin-friendly going forward into 2014 and can drive direct traffic plus help with your overall SEO efforts.