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Link Building After Penguin

Link Building After Penguin

We all have been looking closely at the way we build links and have been doing SEO lately because of Penguin. Many of us have seen our sites tank because of poor link building practices. Some of us simply didn’t know any better or did some foolish things a few years ago that ended up affecting our sites today.

This post will go over all of the techniques that still work and should continue to work into the future. Nothing really new or fancy. We need to stop looking for the short term gains and build a business model that will be sustainable. For many of us that means taking the Google tit out of our mouths and focusing on building other traffic sources.

Why We Failed

The focus of link building for many of use was all about building links to build Google traffic. This ends up being a horrible business model as we have seen from personal experiences with sites getting slapped/deindexed and the countless stories be shared on blogs and various seo forums.

If all of your traffic comes from Google and all of your revenue comes from Adsense you are setting yourself up for failure. Maybe not today or even this year but eventually that house of cards will crumble.

This isn’t an anti-Google rant. I am not venting because my sites got hit, I actually did pretty well in Penguin. I just want people to realize that yes Google provides a huge share of traffic but any business built solely on Google traffic is not stable or sustainable. Most of the methods listed below are geared toward build traffic outside of Google but none of them should negatively effect your Google traffic. More likely they should help it.

A Better Focus

The new focus for link building should have been what we were doing all along. The only links we want are those that bring in traffic, period. It is that simple. PR doesn’t matter. Link diversity doesn’t matter. Getting .org links doesn’t matter. If a link doesn’t bring your money site relevant traffic it isn’t worth getting.

Which means you can stop:

  • Spinning articles
  • Creating thousands of forum profiles that never get used
  • Doing social bookmark blasts
  • Submitting articles to a million junk directories
  • Creating spam blog comments

Diversify Traffic Sources to Hedge Against Fluctuations

We have spent so much time focused in on improving our Google results that we’ve neglected everything else, and left our sites exposed. The more direct traffic and traffic from diverse sources we get, the less it matters what Google says or does. Google can crash and burn for all we care, if we have diverse traffic sources. Also, oddly enough, the more direct and social traffic you get, the higher your search results in Google tend to get. Funny how the less time you spend building Google ranks, instead focusing on building a following and a brand, the better you do in Google.

How to Do It

Many of the techniques that have been around for years still work (if you were actually doing them). Some of it just might need to be tweeted a little bit, or used in a different way, for a different purpose.

Article Marketing

Article marketing is still a proven way to increase traffic. Remember the links don’t matter, it is the traffic they provide that matters. Which means a spun article that is barely legible is of no value. Submitting to thousands of article sites that don’t provide any traffic in return is a waste of time. If you only receive traffic from Ezine and a few others, only submit to those.

Be selective of where you content is found. You don’t want your content on junk sites. You are who you hang out with the most. Don’t be associated with junk sites.

Guest Posts

Guest post have worked forever and will continue to do so. Guests posts can and should provide traffic but really, you are looking for new readers, not just a few clicks. You only submit your best work for guest posts because you are looking to find subscribers and should measure a guest post’s success by how many RSS and email subscribers you gain.

An RSS subscriber is worth more than a 1000 garbage links. An email subscriber is worth far more. Guest posts should be used to gain subscribers, nothing else. The more subscribers you gain the less it matters what Google or any other site does. Which means you should spend a hour writing a kick-ass description of yourself at the bottom of your post. Test different descriptions and see which get better conversions.

To gain subscribers from guest posts you only want to guest post on site with lots of active subscribers, duh. The number of real comments a blog gets is a pretty good indication of how active the subscribers are and should help you find blogs to guest post on. Even really small blogs are good candidates for guest posts if the community is active. If the post only gets viewed by 10 people but they all come to your site and subscribe to your email list, I’d consider that a success. 


Forums are a great way to create sustainable traffic for your money sites if you do it right. You cannot go onto a forum looking to promote a product or just to build links. Make friends with the people who are most active, and provide useful content for the users. Stick to 1-3 forums. Getting a profile on 40 forums you never use isn’t providing any traffic so it isn’t worth doing.

Getting a post sticked is an amazing way to build your authority and can provide a steady stream of traffic in return. Being the person with the highest post count is nice but takes time. Time which could be better spent writing kick-ass guides, tutorials or posts for the forum that will end up getting even more eyeballs.

Treat your forum profile page like a real website. You want to be the #1 authority on that forum. Work on the keywords you use in your description and use the best link text you can. You want to build links to your profile and get eyeballs to it just like any other website.

Take note of which forums get found most often in Google results. If you happen to be the person who gives an awesome answer to someones question on the boards there is a good change other people with that same question see your profile sig and click it to find out more about you.

Post Comments

Posting comments is a lost art these days. Stop worrying about no and do-follow links. Don’t worry about the page rank. Just worry about finding blogs in your niche where you can get your name out there in a positive way.

How many times have you Googled something and the number one result was a post that answers your question and there are less than 10 comments. A #1 result in Google with less than 10 comments is a opportunity waiting to happen.

Most of us spend somewhere from 20-120 minutes writing an article for the purpose of getting traffic. Why not spend 20 minutes doing a little research and then writing an awesome comment. I’ve had comment return 2-8 uniques a day for months that I don’t even remember writing, just happened by accident. It might not seem like a lot of traffic but if you work at it, it can add up. Even if it is a no-follow Google is going to see the traffic flowing to your site. Quality comments also increase the chance of striking up a conversation with the blog owner and building a relationship.


  • Avoid commenting on blogs with tons of comments unless people are actively reading them
  • Look for popular posts with less than 10 comments
  • Look for blogs where the author replies to comments
  • Never comment “great post” or other garbage comments — If you have nothing to say don’t say anything.

The best way I’ve found to create comments that result in clicks is to: 1) highlight one good nugget from the post or something you disagree with 2) create a rebuttal if you disagree(keep it friendly) or add your own nugget of advice that expands on what the post was about.

Spend Time Answering Questions

You don’t have to be the most knowledgeable person in your niche, you just need to know more than your audience. Answer questions on Quora, LinkedIn, Reddit, forums, Yahoo Answers etc. Just like post comments, these can add up to a decent stream of targeted traffic. Everyone is looking for authorities. Again, you don’t have to know it all, you need to know just a little bit more than the poster.

Social Media

Social should be the main focus of your traffic building efforts. Building strong profiles in each of the relevant social media sites is a great way to not only share your content but build strong ties to your money site. You want to build a brand and all of these parts make a stronger whole.

A lot of people have trouble with social media because they use it only for blatant self promotion. If you are keeping up in your niche you probably have an RSS feed of the other heavy hitters. Promote information your users will find useful, even if you didn’t create it.

Paid Traffic

When your site has a real business model you can start to afford to spend money on traffic and worry less about organic traffic.


Video is huge right now and only getting bigger. Google is mixing video results in with the SERPs so you should be doing something with video if you aren’t already. But you don’t have to stop there, screencasts, webinars, slideshow presentations, interactive apps and games. Think outside of the box with your content and you will open yourself up to new traffic opportunities.


The holy grail. Your site can disappear but if you have a solid list you can stay profitable.


For your homework take a look at your best money site and see how much traffic is from Google. Work at building your direct and non-Google traffic up above its current point to where Google only supplies less than 30% of your total traffic. You might not be able to do it but the exercise should give you a more diverse set of traffic, not dependent on Google, if you really spend some time at it.

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Couchable is a web design blog created by Tyler Herman. Not really updated anymore because I'm busy doing freelance design work and busy launching my little WordPress theme shop Real Theme Co. You can read a little more about my at my personal site