tedster - 7:09 pm on Aug 28, 2010 (gmt 0)
Do you mean that Google might allow certain sites to get away with some violations of its guidelines, but penalize other sites for the same violations?
Essentially, yes - I do feel that is the case. In some cases a guidelines violation may be ignored - and the spammy factor is just zeroed out of the ranking calculation. In other cases, a definite negative penalty can occur.
The person who is handing out "SEO advice" may not realize that they dodged a bullet (so far), or what factors really are active in creating their rankings. We all see guideline violations go apparently unpunished, right?
However, I was also referring Google's historical data patent [webmasterworld.com] - the one that rocked the SEO world when it was first applied for in 2005.