but they deserve all the heat they are getting as they were asleep this last year or two.
It has been said more than once at this venue that Google is in large part a prisoner of its allegiance to the central role of backlinks. What was a groundbreaking concept a decade ago is in 2011 a ball & chain around their ankle, so as TMS said, very smart people game the system and Google does its best to try to catch up, all the while piling more complexity onto the role of page rank/backlinks in the algo. And like any system that gets overly complex, it easily breaks. It's been broken a lot these past couple years, and we have no reason to expect that will change in the next couple.