fathom - 11:22 pm on May 26, 2013 (gmt 0)
And many indie sites do not build links at all.
So the rational that PENGUIN devalued them is because ... PENGUIN doesn't work correctly?
I don't see how any domain that:
1. Didn't have clearly defined brand identity built over time from other channels and then was equally adaptive to search when Google aggressively targeted webspam
2. Didn't build search oriented brand value directly which continues to be equally adaptive to search as Google aggressively targeted webspam
3. Didn't do any form of manipulation (as you suggest)
How does one achieve results this way to begin with?
Sounds like the origin of that solution was poorly conceived.
If one doesn't build links, at all, they either have no links or they are a brand value at some level. That is the concept of brand... in this case "link recognition".