Yes. This is the real issue, lost by short-sighted people who care only about where they're ranking for a particular keyword.
I'm angry. My site is doing OK - down a fraction, missing for a few keywords, who cares? That's not why I'm angry.
I've always liked Google. More than the relevance of their results, I liked the COMPREHENSIVENESS of their results, and that they seemed dedicated to keeping issues of money away from the results they served. That no longer seems to be the case.
For the first time ever, Google seems to be removing a TYPE of result from their SERPS - namely, commercial results.
If they were simply counter-acting what they perceived as an unfair advantage through the use of SEO techniques, who could complain (many people, I suppose, but that's not the point). If you think my use of keywords in URL is giving me an unfair advantage, then by all means COMPENSATE the results to allow for that. Knock me down the appropriate number of pegs, equivalent to the results I have gained from the use of these techniques. That's fine.
But when you systematically remove results from the index, either by "filtering" them or "penalizing" them to the point where they can no longer be reasonably expected to be found, you have moved from ranking sites to censoring them.
Google is NOT just a "privately owned company that can do whatever they want", as some around here like to insist. There is such a principle as corporate responsibility. Google is the card catalogue for the entire internet, and when they start removing commercial serps because they don't like them, or want to sell AdWords, then it becomes an issue that goes well beyond the world of search engine optimization and becomes an issue for all of humanity.
At the least, Google could release information on what they are trying to accomplish, but GoogleGuy is gone and their official statements have been opaque, to say the least.
The following questions NEED to be answered - not to me as a webmaster, but to me as a member of the human race.
1. Does google believe that the results that are being filtered are "spam", or is it google's belief that the web is so comprehensive that it is "better to be safe than sorry" by removing all possibly tainted results?
2. Does google believe that commercial search results do not belong in their "ordinary" serps?
3. Are google's reccomendations for webmasters still valid? If I rely on these, can I be confident that my results will not be filtered?
4. What connection, if any, is there between AdWords, Google's public float, and the Florida/Austin updates?
5. What is the motivation behind Google "filtering" results from their listings, rather than just applying corrective weightings to pages that use SEO?
I want Google to answer these questions. I'm really angry about this.
GOOGLE DOES NOT HAVE THE MORAL RIGHT TO "FILTER" RESULTS WITHOUT ME ASKING IT TO.