As an avid user of SER and many other shortcuts for SEO, I grew frustrated this year of being penalized by G, and when Fred hit my site, I had enough. So I took a break from SER, SERE, etc. I wanted to see what would happen to my money site if I did...nothing.
At first I was nervous. I had used SER for years to build a pretty big link profile for various MS. So not blasting tiers at my main MS seemed unnatural to me.
So I basically set out to create a dozen PBN sites. Each PBN was a new URL and hosted separately. I did no SEO for any of them. I wrote two articles per week for each, ranging from 500 to a little over 1000 words. All content was unique, non-spun content. The goal was to get about 6 - 10 articles on each PBN. Was fairly easy to do. After three articles posted I dropped one contextual link. That was it.
The first thing to report is that my MS did not drop at all. While it dropped on tracking services like ahrefs, it did not drop in the serp. So this told me that G had already discounted nearly all of the SER generated links.
Secondly, I freed up lots of time I had been using to do keyword research, create projects, and spin my wheels. I used this free time to actually add new content on the MS and pay attention to onsite visitor experience.
Finally, just this week the MS bumped up nicely. Not a huge movement, but a solid trend upward.
I find it hard to believe that this makes sense as I conditioned myself to thinking that the only chance I had in seo was to blast like a maniac. More proxies, more lists, more links, etc. Along the way I lost site of something much more important. That is that owning unique well-written content matters more than anything else for search engines. If thousands, or more, are scraping the same sites for targets, scraping content, and posting links, it does seem like not doing that makes more sense as a way to stand out a bit.
Where to go from here. Well, I am not quite sure. Mainly I wanted to share this story as it may be helpful to others that like me lost sight of what my actual goal should have been. I am guessing I will continue to tinker around a bit with SER in some way, just not like before. Those days have passed and are no longer productive. I will build a few more PBN's. But mostly I will spend the bulk of my time on my MS. Over the years, what G has allowed to remain indexed is pretty clear in my case....my PBN's. Given that, it doesn't make sense for me to waste my time doing things that will have no benefit in a month or two.
Good luck to all, and I will continue to read across the threads to see if anyone cracks it with SER/SERE in a sustainable way.