Sgt_Kickaxe - 1:52 am on May 31, 2010 (gmt 0) [edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 2:08 am (utc) on May 31, 2010]
If you're right tedster we need to learn what metrics google is now relying on more than they were before. For such drastic changes to have unfolded on many sites the change isn't trivial.
Perhaps it's time to unhook our sites from various services and start with a clean slate on these downgraded sites since they were just downgraded without changing.
I'm very tempted to remove all search engine specific services and remain as unbiased with this site as possible. That would mean...
~ removing feedburner and going with a generic script for rss or not offer it at all.
~ removing nofollow tags completely as they are specific to only one search engine which would force user content to be moderated or link free.
~ removing specific social networking services and going with only the non search engine company related standards (twitter/facebook etc).
~ removing search company based search features and going with an in-house version like WW has.
~ removing analytics and using 3rd party software that has no affiliation to a search company.
etc.. (wow, I can think of 12 other search company features right now - sure are lots).
With a clean slate I could test for effect by adding only one at a time, or realize i'm happy without them. The other benefit is cutting off the data gathered about a site, which is obviously used to grade the site, and force search companies to use less invasive measuring tools. While that sounds drastic we've been given no data as to what constitutes data that adds to a sites quality rating and what doesn't. When in doubt do nothing the saying goes. Having the site do nothing until it is proven to add to its quality makes sense. Surely ranking factors can't be tied to using a search companies products anyway right?
Webmasters are always asking which features can improve their sites, perhaps its time to figure out if removing any of them removes any "poor quality" signals. Does having less than 500 rss subscribers hurt? 250 readers? Keeping all these things OFF your site until it receives a lot of daily traffic might be better than offering features that scream "barely used".
[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 2:08 am (utc) on May 31, 2010]