About a two years ago my website was linking to unrelated sites (before it got way out of control as it is today), not alot but a decent number.
I eventually removed the links a few months later (~ 1 1/2 years ago), but not before google gave me a penalty of some sort. From what I can tell, anytime I link someone the link is pretty much valueless, and on everyone I link to I do not provide them with any backlinks when you do link:www.partnerdomain.com.
I still rank extremely well for certain keywords, my website has backlinks and a good PR; my links are just valueless at this point. Anyone know if my site will ever come out of this penalty? As I said it's been a year and half since my website first was banned (at which point i removed the links), and now I hardly link to anyone (let alone unrelated sites).
they never realised smart seo guys would spot the opportunity and be able to exploit the weaknesses...
We currently have two threads going on, each featuring a webmaster who may have read some e-books, opted-in to link pop schemes, and engaged in search engine manipulations that they saw others doing (and assumed it would be ok)- and got toasted by Google.
It seems there are a large amount of people out there spamming Google who are either in denial of or don't know the errors they are committing. It's really too bad, and I feel sorry for them.
Some of the comments in this thread reflect the naivete involved in DIY seo that can really hurt a business. If you really value your business, please be sure you are practicing safe search engine practices, and if you aren't sure, check with someone who knows.