tedster - 9:34 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)
Yes, I also wonder if there are hidden agendas at the press. It's just a couple months back that Rupert Murdoch was in a very public brawl with Google.
With regard to the Overstock.com thread [webmasterworld.com], I personally take the hit for allowing the exception to our normal policy - and the way it all went does leave me feeling a bit wounded. The idea was that our members were frustrated by never talking about concrete examples. You learn just so much when you talk about "widgets".
So when that post was submitted, I took a top-level look at the Overstock SEO and it seemed like we could all learn something valuable from analyzing a big name website that was doing a lot quite well - and that IS the way the thread went for a while.
I can assure everyone that our thread did NOT start the Wall Street Journal investigation. In fact, nothing in our thread points to a violation of Google guidelines. The discount that Overstock offered students was happening whether the links were online or not. That is not a paid link. We did not find a "smoking gun" of any kind.
As thegypsy mentioned in that thread:
"But the WSJ article seems to confirm that it was somewhat about that." Well, that's from their talking head. He obviously didn't mention the more egregious tactic that they were caught employing. So, take anything they said so far with a grain of salt.
Hopefully someone (OS or Google) will add more details to this story, but I wouldn't hold your breath.
I was involved in this story a few days ago when the WSJ journal contacted me about this thread (I am that guy 'Dave Harry' mentioned at the end of the WSJ article). Some of the emails I exchanged with the various parties alerted me to the 'other' issues. Sadly it is 'off the record' and I respect that.