Google Panda 3.3 Survival Guide For Internet Marketers

Blog network links has until recently been the back bone of linkbuilding and SEO for many Internet, affiliate and niche marketers. Article directory services like Unique Article Wizard and My Article Network have been hugely popular with marketers trying to outfox Google by building mass blog network links and climbing up in the search rankings.

These article submission services have also been paramount in the success of many of my niche sites. In fact, not so long ago I wrote a detailed post outlining my link high successful link building strategy exclusively using My Article Network and Unique Article Wizard.

Well, all that changed at the end of February as Google Panda 3.3 update pulled the plug on manipulative blog network links. As a result, many affiliate and niche sites previously enjoying top rankings on the back of these links were sent plummeting down the search engine spiral. About half of my 50+ niche sites also saw big overnight drops in rankings by as much 100 places.

So what was Panda 3.3 all about? Alongwith a number of changes listed in the official Google press release. There was one which attracted significant debate on search engine blogs like search engine land:

“Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often re-architect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.”

While the debate continues over which characteristic of links Google decided to turn off, there is no doubt that this update was specifically designed towards penalizing mass link building tactics often deployed by affiliate and niche sites to gain rapid rankings.

Soon after the release here are some of the emails I received from some well know Internet marketers, friends and blog network owners:

“I feel it is time to circle the wagons and protect all of our links. We are making this move because at least 4 high profile networks have been hit by Google over the past couple of weeks, with one closing down completely. You invest your money in this service and we will make sure you get maximum results. To make sure the network stays alive and healthy, we will continue running PR checks weekly and move links if a site gets nuked”

– Justin from HighPR Society

“First, not all of my sites saw drops in the rankings. In fact, it was very random.

Thankfully, I’ve been testing quite a number of things on my portfolio…so after looking closer at the data I was able to draw a few conclusions.

Conclusion #1: Sites with links from BuildMyRank didn’t drop.

Conclusions #2: As I had some one-page sites go UP in ranking…the size of a site doesn’t seem to be the (only) issue. Instead, I believe the drop in my rankings was attributed more to the fact that I’d only used UAW/MAN on some (not all) of the sites that dropped.

The next thing I did was talk to my friends to see how Panda had affected their portfolio (Spencer and Haley) and each of them reported the same thing. Spencer said sites with ONLY UAW/MAN links did drop. Hayley told me that she’s been using a combination of BuildMyRank and Linkvana and her portfolio was unaffected”

– Trent Dyrsmid from Online Income Lab

Trent is already reporting in his email that other well know marketers like Spencer Hawes from Niche Pursuits also saw drops in rankings.

Of course, we as online marketers are often extremely resilient to these changes. After all, when Google released the first Panda update in early 2011, many people were predicting the death of affiliate and niche sites for good. In reality that couldn’t be further from the truth, I personally built a lot of successful niche sites in 2011 and so did many other marketers.

But, here is the real question, is this really a viable business model? The answer is yes and no. It is viable in the short term but not sustainable in the long term.

So, what does it mean for your success as an Internet marketer?

It really comes down to these key factors:

1.) Is your content worthy of being shared around the Internet naturally? (which is what Google wants to see)
2.) Are you building a site purely to make money or building an asset which genuinely solves a compelling problem for your visitors
3.) Are you prepared to do the hard yards to build a quality site which is Google proof and will last you in 2012, next year, the year after and beyond?

Now, you might be thinking, all sounds great on paper but is it really that easy to change everything I have been taught about affiliate marketing so far? After all, it is more convenient for me to put up five pages of content, plaster the site with AdSense and affiliate links and continue to mass submit articles to blog networks.

The idea here is not change the way you do things but adapt them so you can be sure that your online business will continue to enjoy success in 2012 and beyond.

Here are some key action points to consider:

– Create content for your visitors. Not for search engines, your vendors or AdSense
– Create more content. Instead of standard 5 pages of standard articles, go for twenty pages and see if you are genuinely and comprehensively covering everything there is to know about your chosen niche.
– Take a moment to answer this simple question. “Am I building a site where real people with real questions can turn to find real answers?”

These are the exact same questions I asked myself at the start if this year and the direction I was already taking with my business even prior to Panda 3.3 update and already have a number of high quality niche blog projects ready to launch. So, what is going to be my own success strategy moving on? The focus will very much be on building a real online audience and not just another niche site where visitors may come once, click on a few ads and never come back.

March 22nd 2012 Update: shuts down

On a daily basis, we monitor our domain network to check metrics like page rank, indexed pages, etc. As with any link-building network, some de-indexing activity is expected and ours has been within a permissible range for the past two years. Unfortunately, this morning, our scripts and manual checks have determined that the overwhelming majority of our network has been de-indexed (by Google), as of March 19, 2012. In our wildest dreams, there’s no way we could have imagined this happening.

For the time being, BMR will be shutting down our service in its current form. Whether we’ll re-open again after the dust settles and we’re able to determine the root cause of the de-indexing activity remains to be seen. 

google panda

What do you think? Do you own successful niche sites? How are they performing since the February panda update? Please share your feedback below and let’s start a discussion.


  1. carl March 21, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    I personally have about 60 niche sites, all of which are between 3 – 7 pages, I promote with just UAW and social bookmarking.

    Luckily so far I have seen no drops, but I’m not sure UAW is affected yet or will be? with that said it might eventually be affected, last month Adsense made me about $1600 and its looking like it will be similar this month.

    About 10 of my sites are producing the most of my income so going forward I am just going to get back to scaling these sites out and using old school manual linkbuilding, sure it takes longer but, it seems like the best route to take, just give Google what they want great content and non spammy promotion and build sites that are going to last.


    • Anshul March 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

      Hi Earl,

      Not 100% sure if UAW is safe but I’m sure it is on Google’s radar and I agree focusing on a few sites with great content is definitely the way to move forward.


  2. Marcelina Hardy March 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Content is king. Google is looking out for the best content on the Internet to extend it to their search engine users.

    I think the best advice to Internet marketers is to do what you have explained here. Focus on delivering what your visitors need and want. The royalties of Google ranking will come with that.

    Great post!


    • Anshul March 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

      Hi Marcelina,

      Google is introducing a number of sweeping changes this year to present the best results to their users and cleaning out low quality sites combined manipulative link building is currently on top of their list.


  3. Charlotte March 21, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Thanks for a clear and concise post! You’ve broken down the Google changes into manageable chunks. As a copywriter I’m pleased to hear that Google is continuing its emphasis on great content although a lot of the time it’s hard to know what else content marketers can do to give our rankings a helping hand. Reading your post I have a really clear understanding of what the latest changes mean for me and my site. Thanks again!


    • Anshul March 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

      Thank you for commenting Charlotte. One of the things I didn’t mention in the post is link diversity. Guest posting on established blogs is a great way to get trusted one way backlinks which Google loves (something I am focusing a lot at the moment for my own blog).


  4. Adam March 22, 2012 at 3:24 am #


    I have used a bunch of different link building methods and so far I have seen my sites go up as opposed to down. I think this could be because I started out using uaw to link to web 2.0 properties as opposed to my sites directly. Now, my plan is to use web 2.0 links and create mass backlinks to them using article directories and other mass submission software. Not sure how this will work now, however, it is worth a try.



    • Anshul March 22, 2012 at 7:11 pm #

      Thanks Adam. I do in fact have a few sites which use link wheels like the one you are describing and can be very effective especially for new sites. I think most of my sites that got hit were just using one or two types of links (MAN/UAW) which is always a risky strategy with any type of link building. Although some of my other sites using these links actually shot up in rankings so difficult to establish a pattern.


  5. Dan March 25, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    From my experience, I would say “yes” to avoiding UAW. I started 2 new sites strictly using UAW for SEO about 6 months ago. I wanted to see how effective their strategy was…

    I used their network to the tee. Using spreadsheets to create thousands of unique anchor texts, titles, authors, along with using the best spinner (90% unique content), after 3 months, my sites soared in the SERPS… I was blown away…

    In mid February, I woke up one day to see the trail of dust that my sites left behind in the SERPS! They sailed from page 1 and 2 to 20 at best… I immediately knew that something was connected to UAW. I then logged in to my account and noticed that they changed the recommended daily submissions to 25, compared to the previous 50… hmmm… I continued to use UAW for the past month and none of my sites are moving up.

    Long story short, despite UAW’s attempt to explain that they are not considered a private network, to me it’s all the same… Google doesn’t like the links going through their network and I’ve given UAW my best shot… The effectiveness of their network is sadly outdated and not worth my investment… In my opinion, it’s time to move on…


    • Anshul March 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

      Thanks for a great comment Dan. I did contact UAW about the integrity of their network soon after the latest Panda rollout and got a similar reply to what you mentioned in your comment that they are not a private blog network but rather a network of independently owned blogs publishing content at their discretion through UAW. The SERP results probably suggest otherwise.

      However, I am a still little mystified as to why some of my sites went up in rankings even though they were using the exact same link profile (MAN/UAW) as sites that went down.


  6. Dave March 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    Hi Anshul

    Great blog post! I myself am planning to drop UAW as I find the process of putting in articles to their system some what hum bug! I am very fearful that the quality of links associated with UAW are not worth the monthly price tag we all pay. I am also going to drop my subscription to back-link-genie as I fear those links are of extremely low quality as well. More than likely I will revisit my first link building efforts of manually submitting articles to article directory’s and then over a period of two to four months slowly escalate my link building with a diversified link structure using the link vendors from either the warrior forum or fiverr.

    I really do enjoy your blog — thanks for the great post.



    • Anshul March 26, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

      Thank you for a great comment and kind words Dave. UAW has always been slightly suspect when it comes to link quality and many of their links are never crawled or found. I discovered this when I was using linklicious to drip feed my backlinks as many of the links didn’t point to any particular URL.

      Regardless of which service you use, fresh content and natural link diversity is really the key to long term success (something I am implementing myself) otherwise you are just too vulnerable to algorithm changes.


  7. James March 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Because of what I saw with Google de-indexing BMR I’ve dropped MAN and decided to do my linkbuilding manually for now. I know I can get quality links that way but it will just take longer. However I have a lot less risk of getting sandboxed by Google this way. If it works eventually I’ll get some VA to do the work for me so I can focus on keyword research and deciding how many niche sites I want to produce per month.

    Thanks for the info.


  8. Anshul March 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    Hi James, it is probably a good move to drop MAN from your link building plan as a lot of their links have probably been completely devalued based on the evidence I have seen from many of my own niche sites. I would suggest focusing on fewer and better quality sites as small micro niche sites thin in content are probably a risky proposition moving forward in 2012.


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