When the news about Anglo Rank first broke, via a tweet by Google's Matt Cutts ("There are absolutely NO footprints linking the websites together" Oh, Anglo Rank.), there was a lot of chatter about the fact Google had targeted a fairly well-known link spam network. However, Anglo Rank's owner, known as Bluematter on the BlackHatWorld forums, claimed that only a few of their link sites were penalized, and that Anglo Rank's customers weren't impacted at all.
A week later, it appears that the story has changed significantly.
In their sales thread, several people have reported receiving link penalties in the last few days in their Google Webmaster Tools console, well after Anglo Rank originally said they were unaffected by what Cutts said. It would seem that the penalties took a bit longer to show up in Webmaster Tools than Cutts suspected when he initially tweeted about it.
Since the reports of the penalties have come out, the link network has been backtracking and changing their position about the network being virtually untraceable, without any footprints, to saying that all buyer should have known that they could have been penalized by Google for using their service. This despite their FAQ guarantee:
It is true that anytime you do you deal with less than quality links for your site there is always the risk you could be penalized, but the company's selling feature was the fact that it was safe and footprint-free.
Anglo isn't taking any new orders of this time, although they continued to take orders up until a few days ago, until it became apparent that the network really had been penalized and compromised. They now say they are in the process of helping their clients recover and fulfilling the orders, then they are planning to focus on relaunching.
We are not concerned about bringing more business In at this time, our main focus Is to sort out affected clients, once we are done with It we'll start working on the relaunch
We have dealt with most of the clients who recently got affected In the update, we sorted them out In one way or another, so If anyone who still hasn't contacted us we kindly request you to please get In touch with us.
There's a lot of speculation over how the Anglo Rank network got taken down, and how the spam team knew it was that specific network they took action against, in order for Cutts to reference it by name.
There is a lot of suspicion that it was someone who purchased an order, or someone who traced it back from the “sample links” that Anglo Rank provides to those who are interested in purchasing links. A couple people also commented on the fact he uses a Gmail email address, of all the email companies he could have chosen for the payment address for a network planning to spam Google.
But in the world of competitive SEO, it could also have easily been a competitor who was smart enough to trace back the links that a competitor had recently received. Many of the SEO tools that we use can easily rank links from when they were first discovered pointing to a site, making it easy to notice when a competitor has received 100 or 200 links all within the same short timeframe, and it's not a giant leap to figure they are all from the same link network, and see what the commonalities are.
It also could have been a disgruntled link buyer, if the links didn't perform like Anglo Rank claimed they would, for the competitive keywords he or she was using. And now that the entire network has been penalized, it wouldn't be unusual to see some of the link buyers throwing Anglo Rank under the bus in hopes of getting their pre-Anglo rankings back, and giving up the sites that might not have been caught in the initial wave.
This isn't the first link network that has been taken down by Google, and it definitely won't be the last. For more information about the dangers of link networks, see "Link Networks: Don't Build Your SEO Strategy on a House of Cards" and "Can You Identify Link Networks & Bad Neighborhoods?"