fathom - 1:06 am on May 27, 2013 (gmt 0)
And many indie sites do not build links at all. But there's no point telling Fathom this, because in many threads Fathom keeps making arguments that rely on the "just world fallacy" - the assumption that anyone wronged brought it on themselves by doing something risky. Also known as "victim blaming."
Not to drive things off-topic, I went back and researched your first reference to PENGUIN and found:
I got hit on a site I've barely touched in a year, LOL. No paid links, no SEO tactics, white or black. The domain doesn't have any keywords for my niche. The high-ranking pages were all "link lists" - i.e., "13 resources for widget info" with quality editorial discussion of the content at the other links and some nice photos. These pages were also very popular with human visitors, who love a central and well-maintained (dead links getting replaced/removed quickly) list of resources on their topic of interest. I was cautioned a year or so ago that I was "giving away" my pagerank with these posts, but I didn't care: visitors like them.
I never thought of this as SEO - it was a type of page I created for visitors. And for a long time, Google liked it. Now they don't.
This just reaffirms for me that I made the right call 6 months ago when I decided to forget all I know about SEO and just focus on getting my site in front of people who will enjoy it. If Google's going to punish you for engaging in zero SEO, or even "giving away" your pagerank (isn't that anti-SEO?), then they're just too unreliable to be part of my online strategy.
I may have to build more sites to get the income where I want it to be, if I'm relying on social media and subscribers instead of Google, but it'll be more stable in the end.
I'm not sure how you can say "this page was built only for visitors" and then concede "I may have to build more sites to get the income where I want it to be".
...what happened to the patrons?
That said, "I've barely touched in a year" seems likely the problem. The rest of Google's algorithm didn't stop the day PENGUIN arrived.
Being top dog & complacency are at different ends of the spectrum.