fathom - 4:55 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)
The problem is that we only have speculation based on REASONABLE evidence reported from trusted sources within our industry. Yeah, there aren't many "trusted" sources these days I agree...but lets just say when ALL of my trusted sources are reporting similar things, well, you know the deal...
Trust is a strange commodity when investigating that which does not allow you to connect the dots. If you don't know how to avoid making your own link development campaign 'unnatural' how can you possibly identify unnatural linking patterns?
No one will ever have the evidence that you seek due to Google's proprietary reasons. My beef is why should we just accept that because we don't know exactly what goes on, we can assume that Google is making the right "value" judgements then...lol
Every single website has "questionable links" pointing to it... but just because a link points to a domain does not mean it influenced anything.
The first problem I see when trusted sources uncover spammy links to their domain that they theorize are what Google determined as unnatural they never go to those domains to determine if the paid profile causing their issue was also removed from the indexed or discounted in some way.
If Google discounts you for these... you can be 100% certain Google discounted the pages those links reside on... ignoring this as "evidence" means you are no one bit interested in "the truth".
I mean does "Panda" mean anything to folks here? lol
Panda is a content oriented issue not a link issue... they have nothing to do with each other... but a natural link profile to a specific page will prevent that specific page from being effected by PANDA.
The entire industry is speculation based on testing...and I provided folks with a direct link from the horse's mouth regarding a potential "penalty" issue...about as close to "evidence" as we're all gonna get I'd imagine...
The horses mouth is very, very rare...
I conclude based on their emails and their talking points that much of the industry is interpreting the wrong links as unnatural.
Question for you since I believe this is ultimately what you're getting at, and what I read through on the Google webmaster help boards seems to reflect this basic type of "defeatist/you obviously deserved it you're a bad webmaster with a bad site" attitude.
No... I have the experience of 10s of thousands of domains in 20 odd link networks, assisting thousands of customers over the years, a handful of de-indexed networks while not having a single customer's website being punished for paid links... I seriously have lot of data to support my conclusions.
Lets just speculate and assume that Google is handing out temporary ranking penalties to folks based on unnatural links, are you implying that the majority of websites "hit" in this scenario probably deserved it then, but for entirely different onpage/offpage issues etc that were probably identified when Google took a closer look? Possibly manual?
Unnatural links are pretty clearly defined... what isn't clear is the list of links included in unnatural...
So what type of link development is considered unnatural?
Almost all link development is unnatural if your target and you target unnaturally.
Can someone else do this? I'm sure lots try.
But getting a link today does not mean it got crawled today, it doesn't mean it got credited today... before you can lose anything you have to gain something so their are no guarantees that you don't help your follow man for 3 years before they get discounted.
...and in my vast experience of watching deindexed domain losing ranks & traffic immediately the link credits remain for 1-2 months... not only that.
When your trusted sources lost ranks & traffic because of discounted links... you can be sure whatever happened, happened 4 weeks before (or more)