For the record, one of my best sites has lost over 50% of its traffic in Allegra. I suspect that it's because it covers a range of topics (and individual topics were previously gaining from the overall PR/reputation/IBLs of the site). The SERPS in this sector now seem to be returning sites that are purely about widgets servicing instead of big, well respected widget sites that happen to have a page on widget servicing. For users, this is probably a better set of results. In other sectors the effects of this update could be different. But....
websites that deserve to be seen
Google (or the algo they made) says the site doesn't deserve to be seen. Or that other sites show up before it. Feel free to disagree with them. They don't particularly care about your personal opinion. (The sooner people realise this, the better. They care about the collective reactions of the user base + their market share of the Search business)
who says that it was created to minimise spam
Question is - is it affecting the start up rate for new scrapers? Scrapers thrive on being able to throw together a million page site in a few hours. Particularly on throwaway domains. That business is a lot less attractive now. I've argued against scrapers, I'll accept the fallout the solution brings.
Are Google providing results in order of relevancy?
Not your problem, or mine. They'll provide results in any order they want. It's for Google to decide and for Google's users to vote with their feet if they're dissatisfied. If you want to SEO it's your job to work out what Google is basing results around and target that. Not the other way around.
That is a sweeping statement that would wipe out more than 50% of my clients and probably me along with it.
Sorry, but it's true. I have nothing against you or your clients. But, that's a pretty stupid basis on which to launch a business. It reflects the "me" society, "I have rights" and, if my site is good, they "have to" send me traffic. If you've had it too easy then you'll whine and whinge as soon as something goes wrong. Nobody owes you anything in this world. Accepting that is crucial to achieving success.
you are telling them not to bother until they can afford a PPC budget, sponsored links and any other promotional Whistle or Bell that would cost more
I am telling them not to bother unless they have a credible business plan. Or, can spare the time to take a Business 101 course. Starting a business that cannot succeed without free SE traffic is not particularly smart. I'm advising them to give up business as they know nothing about it, and go get a job instead.
[edited by: Macro at 1:35 pm (utc) on Feb. 9, 2005]