walkman - 4:45 pm on Sep 16, 2011 (gmt 0)
First not just affiliates were hit by panda so let's not try to purposefully confuse the two, small mom-and-pop businesses were destroyed as well. And not just obviously bad sites. Not that making money by affiliate marketing is bad provided you provide a service, in fact even Google has invested in quite a few of them [googleventures.com...] and 99% of G Search users don't know that (Would they get a "maybe you should try..." tip like Hubpages got after calling Google a monopoly?). Even clicking on organic searches could make money for Google.
Those manual inspectors follow the ever-changing guidelines from the top, and when Google is in the same business, in every rational human a conflict of interest bell rings. The sites could be bad of course, or it could just be a business decision by Google.
The Google headcount rise is mostly to cold calls and to make more money. Google reached the peak with automation by providing zero support and that has backfired since people wonder what happens if their acct is frozen along with all their G services. Now with "G offers" and the small biz push they will need to do lots of cold calling and act as if they provide support.
Google is giving "free websites" to many small businesses along with a $100 voucher for adwords for a year. I will predict that another Panda is going to force them to advertise by next year. Quality and all, Google fashion.
And then Google has decided to get into everything, from cell phones to affiliate to marketing. Maybe tomorrow they'll make shoes--at 50% off if you let them analyze your sweat, track your movement and accept mailers from drug companies and your local police station. Never know with them.