The Ultimate Guide to Beating Penguin 2.1

The Ultimate Guide to Beating Penguin 2.1

If you have any Questions about 2.1 or any part of this guide, visit my Questions page here to literally, ask me anything!

Penguin 2.1 Arrives

October the 4th (Friday) saw the release of Penguin 2.1, the 5th installment of the Penguin update.

penguin 2.1 arrives

Examples of Spam Sites Still Dominating SERPs

This update still hasn’t killed off a lot of sites, it seems either contextual spam or just massive amounts of spam still work super effectively vs all these updates.

3rd Party, Authority Sites:

These are sites that use 3rd party platforms such as YouTube or sites that offer their authority on the root domain level, I’ll give you a few examples:

YouTube Videos:

Is just using automatically spun article directories, web 2.0s and wiki links, beating the likes of Search Engine Land, Moz and other giant authority sites. Though this video only has around 3k links, if you were looking at more like 30k he’d be doing a lot better, mentiong that though, he’s been sat there for close to 4 months now.

3rd Party Root Level Sites:

Ranking for #1 on “Lottery Systems” is a micro social site built via Rebel Mouse –

rebel mouse

Credit to Terry Kyle’s Sunday SEO for this one.

This site is sitting pretty at about 7k backlinks, mainly contextual. Though it’s unlikely to receive any kind of penalty or action due to the fact that the main domain is so authoritative.

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I also noticed that a site with literally, millions of links was stilling absolutely killing it in the SERPs, weird how they have only 2 anchors as well!

The site in question is an SEO Company, they’ve been ranking for close to 2 months now and have seemingly decimated the Penguin 2.1 update, still ranking first page for massively searched and competitive keywords.

I see them on Google US still ranking #4 for “SEO Services” –

Proofs in the Pudding

As you can see, this Google update isn’t much new and sites are still fooling the Big G with spam techniques that are so obvious it’s beyond my understanding on how Google hasn’t spotted them. Any 2 month old site that has a over 2 million backlinks obviously isn’t quite right.

I will however be going over a super safe method of beating the 2.1 update and how I did it myself within 2 days.

In this guide I’ll be going over:

  • What the Update means
  • What the Update has been hitting
  • How to build Links to Combat 2.1
  • How to do Tiered Link Building Correctly vs this new Update

Unfortunately for Google, I’m here.

Charles Arrives!

penguins running

It’s another Penguin update and as I’m on a bit of a roll of systematically killing penguins, I thought to myself why not show you guys how to kill this penguin within 2 days of the Update being released.

Please bare in mind that throughout this post I’ll be going over grey hat techniques, some white, some black but mostly grey hat to beat this update.

The Update Itself

2.1 was released (according to Google) on October 4th, as most Penguin updates do, this one is yet again targeting spam link profiles and it’s the first Penguin update that I’ll give a clap to for actually doing so.

joker clap gif

That being said, it’s not done all that much to combat a lot of the strategies I’ve been preaching. Using the likes of manual spinning and using Tiered link building to beat updates is what I’ve been saying for a LONG time, so if you haven’t been following my said strategies and just trying to spam Google then you only have yourself to blame.

This time in their webmaster release, Google showed some actual examples of what the update hit and it was pretty much the Opposite of what Penguin 2 hit. As you saw by my ranking for Rand case study and Rohit Palit pointed out, I ranked for pretty big, competitive keywords within the SEO industry using completely unrelated content. These rankings have finally, 6 months later AND a Google update later, dropped off. This is mainly due however to me being lazy and main parts of the content not being related to the keywords at all.

I launched a small site using a really random domain I’d bought of the Namecheap Marketplace that was 2 years old on Friday to see what kind of effects I could get using techniques in 2 days, I spent most of Saturday doing client work and adding some more content to said site, Friday I’d built up a few spun articles and started link building, only used Tier 1/2 to do so.

The Results?

rank changes

I even managed to pick up some Bing & Yahoo rankings along the way but hit position #3 for a mediumly competitive long tail keyword for a fresh site.

What I understand of 2.1 So Far

I’ve seen a few sites drop off in the SERPs, but not many, mainly because I’m a grey hat and use actually “good” spam techniques. Now by that I mean I use manually spun content (That’s VERY well spun) along with posting to my own networks or using tiered stuff to target the likes of guest posts.

Penguin 2.1 seems to off targeted spammy links without pagerank, so if you’re the kind of guy/gal to automatically spun content, that’s completely unreadable and post it to then no wonder you’ve been hit.

However, if you’re doing readable, manually spun content that actually offers something to the reader and posting it on the root domain e.g. then using some more quality tier 2s to push more link juice, then you should be good!

Step 1) Building your Content Foundations

This part of my strategy is the main part that has significantly changed. Tier 1 I no longer aim to build spun content around, I want it completely unique and actually really, really good quality. You’ll see later that I aim for all of my Tier 1 links to be guest posts and really high quality.

Tier 2, Spun Stuffs –

The first thing you’re wanting to do is build up your tiered content, this is fairly easy, depending on how much content you have you’re going to want to have between 3 and 10 highly spun articles. I’m currently working on a manually spun tutorial but in the meantime check out my good friend Matthew Woodwards advanced article spinning guide –

Not quite as detailed as mine will be Matt, but it’ll do for this guide πŸ˜‰

Main Tier 1 Content –

I hate to say this to you, but for once, you’ll have to actually resort to being good writers. This means creating content based on readership and trying to get it posted to authority sites within your industry.

An example of these would be for my blog, I’ve guest posted some really good quality articles that you can take a look at for an idea of what kind of quality you want to build up your Tier 1 content around.

Bonus Good Content Tips:

  • Use a proof reader to get your content’s readability and grammar/punctuation perfect! Fiverr offers some really good proofreaders.
  • Include royalty free and high quality imagery/videos/illustrations, I use iStockPhoto for really high quality, paid services or Seabreeze offer a massive list of royalty free image services.
  • Use Powerpoint to make nice graphics, charts and more for your content.

Step 2) Building up your Tier 1 Links

Unfortunately from what I’ve seen there’s no 2 ways about it on making your tier 1 literally, perfect. Though I’ve included a few tips to “automate” this process on the cheap πŸ˜‰

Guest Posting –

This has been the staple for a long time for white hat SEOs looking to build good quality links and I have to finally agree that if you want a really, really strong link profile than do guest posting. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about guest posting as it’s been done a million times before.

I will however be showing you how to automate it (almost)!

Finding your Outreach list –

Matthew Barby, good friend and colleague of mine put together a guide on using ScrapeBox and BuzzStream to outreach to thousands of blogs at a time. This, in my opinion is the definitive way to mass outreach that’ll still actually get you posts, rather than using spam email approaches that trust me… Don’t work.

Managing your Outreach Calender –

BlueGlass put together a really nice guide on managing your editorial calender, this is more being a white hat again but it’s still simplifying a lot of time consuming ways.

The method I use however, is using Trello. Here’s an example Trello board you can use to manage all your outreach, super simple and Trello’s free as well.. so Bonus!

Content Posting –

When you actually get the chance to show off a guest post, I don’t suggest using Tier 1, as of right now for any exact match stuff. Just a bit too risky and you’re a lot less likely to have your post approved.

Article Directories are Back in Fashion!

Article Dirs. have always been seen as spammy as tons have been created etc… Using manual content however on good quality directories such as eZine Articles, ArticleBase and Buzzle offer good content on the root domain level. That’s super important that it’s not as that’s not passing any link juice or PR from the root domain.

Sign up & Engage –

The main point I’ve seen in getting articles approved is to first, read and be engaging on other peoples content. Most article directories that offer really good content are the ones that will want you to build up things before allowing you to actually submit an article: e.g. build your profile first.

Low OBL –

The beauty of Directories is that they have extremely low on page backlinks, making them the perfect feeding ground for a few links sprinkled in and passing as much link juice as possible to the onpage links themselves.

Press Releases offer Ease and Action!

Even with the recent news of Google saying it dislikes people offering dofollow links within press releases, they’re still an absolutely killer tactic. Massive sites like PRWeb and Boston Globe offer press release services that get you indexed in Google News pretty nicely.

Manual Press Releases –

AvanGate did an awesome list of the top 50 free press release sites and as you can see they offer some really good pagerank across the board. Bare in mind that to get a press release accepted on most of these sites it can take upto 2 months and they can be very picky about linking styles. If you have the money to spare then take a look at my automation piece below.

How to Automate Press Releases –

I’ll be showing you how to effectively automate press releases for a couple bucks!

There’s a few methods that I use, the main being Link Emperor. Link Emperor’s order form offers 2 different press release services –

link emperor press releases

At $40 and $50 respectively, I suggest going with the $50 package. You get custom created content and posts on some massive release sites like PRWeb.

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Step 3) Building your Tier 2 Links with SER Engines

This, is the most important part of the link building stage according to this update. It pushes the link juice as just a standard link from a good domain to actually gain power within the links pointing to your site. This is also the part where you can gain the exact match factor that pushes your rankings for the specific keywords.

Tier 2 links before would be used for having your Tier 1s indexed quicker, but at this stage I personally think it’s more about pushing up your link juice. That’s why I’ll be going through an epic way to do so.

GSA SER + SER Engines –

GSA Search Engine Ranker is a sweet bit of kit but mixing it with SER Engines offers supreme link building, as long as it’s all manually spun! I’ve already done a GSA Tutorial that you should watch if you aren’t looking to spend an extra $15/month on SER Engines –

SER Engines –

Devin Santos did a fantastic tutorial/review on SER Engines that shows you how to build epic web 2.0s with the extra bonus piece of kit.

Here’s a really quick example of a Web 2.0 I built in September just using automatically spun content (Don’t do this, use manually spun and include related images/videos as described in the earlier spinning tutorial!) –

Step 4) Tier 3 with GSA Search Engine Ranker –

As you saw in my above video for GSA and SER Engines we now have a load couple fantastic Tier 2 web 2.0s that have great content, now we need them indexed and I’ll also show you how to pass through even more link juice to each Tier 2 link, making an epic chain of link juice!

GSA Search Engine Ranker has a brilliant built in feature of setting up tiered campaigns by using the “Verified URL List” –

verified list tier 2 gsa

This is awesome as you can have a literally unlimited amount of tiers all with separate campaigns, making everything completely customize-able and controlled.

Choosing where to Submit to –

For this I’d suggest using Blog Comments, Wikis, Microblogs and Article directories. These tend to get indexed super quickly along with the microblogs offering a boost in social signals to each individual Tier 2 backlink. The blog comments are there to get the Tier 2s indexed and the Wikis/Article Dirs. are to push through more link juice from quality, contextual sources.

Step 5) Keep Up to Date!

This guide could go out of date if Google do another update or start changing things yet again, so I thought I’d drop some extra resources for you to follow along the way here.

Forums / Discussions: 

Article Resources:


  • Update is still susceptible to mass spam
  • 3rd Party sites still work nicely with spam
  • Tier 1 should be super high quality content and on authority root level domains
  • Old link building methods are coming back!
  • Use manually spun content for all Tier 2 based work
  • Make sure you’re keeping up to date with the latest occurrences/changes!

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Charles Floate
I'm a UK based Search Engine Optimisation and Search Marketing Consultant. With over 5 years in the Search Industry, I'm hoping to build up God of SEO as a Dedicated Internet Marketing Blog with tons of Information for the Community to engage with.
Charles Floate
Charles Floate
Charles Floate

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