flicky - 5:41 pm on Feb 20, 2010 (gmt 0)
Part of my site is a directory. It is not required to link back, however most people do. It is a popular directory so I get 200+ new submissions a day to the various categories. This is why I said I get around 200 backlinks a day. Keep in mind that most of the sites submitted to the directory never get listed for various reasons, but the backlinks are still there.
I've been getting this steady number of backlinks for at least 8 years, so it shouldn't have triggered a red flag as it's just a normal part of my link profile according to google.
But, about 2 weeks before this penalty, I decided to rel=nofollow all of links to these sites in my directory. We run a program to check for dead links, but what if one of these links ends up in a bad neighborhood? So I figured rel=nofollow would protect me from that.
So knowing that I've had 8 years of steady backlinks coming in and 8 years of linking to these sites WITHOUT rel=nofollow... could adding that to every link have triggered something?
I know, I should just remove it and see what happens, but then what if this was related to something else and it's a timed penalty about to expire? I'd never really know what the reason was.
Some specs regarding my penalty:
1. Lost 90% of my google traffic on November 28th
2. Slow decline in the number of pages spidered according to GWT
3. Some of my best SERPs now show my site in supplementals
4. querying "keyword.com" and "keyword" still brings me up #1
5. pagerank has held steady