I want to turn some of your brain power onto unwinding what I believe is a linking penalty on one of my sites.
The site has been around a long time, and up until this winter, had done very well in the rankings. In fact I had a few dozen #1 rankings for many keyword phrases that I was happy to get the traffic for.
When I architected the site back about 5 or so years ago, I took a lot of ideas that were being talked about (and some that weren't) and put them into practice, such as authority pages, hub pages, thematic internal linking, anchor text relevance, reciprocal linking, and internal pagerank channeling.
The first time I really had any problems with ranking was for about a month or so in the summer of '06. I bounced back from that though in after disappearing for a few weeks without any significant changes to my site.
Early in 2007 though, I started noticing real changes in my rankings. My main home page started to fall in the rankings. Then it started getting penalized. It would show up at the bottom of the search, the "950 Penalty".
I made some changes to what was probably a spammy breadcrumb link on one of the domains of this site (it has 4 other subdomains that have multiple pages with unique content in them), and my rankings partially recovered for about a month or so. I also cleaned up my reciprocal links, got rid of links to bad neighborhoods, and culled out the number of links to a dozen or so OB links (in other words I don't have a giant recip links directory with pages and pages of junk - and I never did).
Then on May 4th almost all of my pages got hit with a penalty. Some were +30'd, some were 950'd, some were 150-200'd.
Strangely though, a few pages stick with their top rankings. I even have one page for a competitive, high-dollar 2-word phrase that is still ranked #1. Also, my PR seems to be holding steady (at least as indicated by the toolbar, which I know could be way out of date).
So here's what's left to clean up.
I suspect now, today in the spring of 2007 that these pagerank channeling ideas may be the source of my problems with my rankings. I don't know though.
I do have outbound links on my sites. Yes they are in my "resources" section. Yes some are recips, but a significant number are not. All of those links are real and pass pagerank through them.
None of my topranked competitors put outbound links on their home pages. It just isn't done in my field. So I don't believe that is the answer.
So I am interested in hearing what others hear think the problem might be.
BTW, if all you have to say is that you think what I did was wrong, bad, blackhat, etc., then please don't post here. Such comments aren't useful
If however you can contribute to a discussion about what Google is doing to combat spam and link manipulation and how what I have done may have gotten caught up in this then please join in the discussion.