< continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >
Seems to be a lot of consensus that the shuffling is about links and link value. I am in a highly competitive industry and I definitely concur. I've spent the past three days doing in-depth backlink analysis on the competitor sites that jumped ahead of our site (pushing us to #11 from #6) and they exhibit obvious link building practices that Google supposedly frowns upon...mainly link purchases. I'm coming across a lot of run of sites. We have been steadily cleaning up our paid links, which seems to have been a mistake.
I've had this nagging thought in the back of my head that just gains more credence with each new Google update. I think Matt Cutts accomplishes through PR and dictum what Google is NOT able to accomplish algorithmically. You can only program a machine to do so much, evidence by the fact that we still don't have robot servants or cars that can drive themselves.
So how could the largest ad agency in the world (oops, I mean search engine) control the factors that they can't through algorithms? Why not create some sort of demi-god that respectable, white hat SEOs will flock to and follow without question? I think a lot of us have been duped and now the spammers and less-than-white hat SEOs are reaping the benefits.
Seeing as how many of us are seeing poor quality sites with poor quality backlinks beating out older, quality sites, is it too far-fetched to suggest that maybe Google had turned off a big portion of their algos that try to filter out paid links? Perhaps because after several months of launching a PR campaign against them, maybe they feel that enough sites have cleaned up those links? Or maybe because they only real filter they have the "Report Paid Links" database that they've been building?
PageRank isn't the biggest PR in SEO anymore, it's Press Relations and we all know what that's about...how to "spin" things.
[edited by: tedster at 6:37 pm (utc) on April 5, 2008]