crobb305 - 11:39 pm on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)
Dear site owner or webmaster of ....
We've detected that some of your site's pages may be using techniques that are outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you've made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google's search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
And that was on 03/02.
My site only lost it's positions on 03/17, so maybe I wouldn't have been penalized if I got in contact with them on time.
Now I'm going to try get rid of the crappy links (how?) and get in touch with Google for reconsideration.
Exact same thing here. I JUST checked WMT first time in weeks, and there was the message dated 03/02. I actually saw traffic increase 30% for the ensuing 14 days. Just this week did I see a 10% drop in traffic -- keyword specific. I have very limited control over the backlinks, some are there to spam my site (I've been watching them for a few months).
I feel like there was just a time lag between those WMT messages and the algorithmic changes that took them into effect. It may have been the warning about "overly SEO'd" sites (the "changes" that Google has been warning about). Remedying the "unnatural links" is going to be daunting, if not impossible, when they are beyond our control.
It's possible for a competitor to build dodgy links to your site and get you penalised?
I fear this is the case. I was reading some forums yesterday, about the recent delisting of private blog networks (which I have never touched), and a couple of members stated that they maliciously changed out their links to point toward competitor sites. Granted I don't know how those networks work, but if links were changed out to point to competitors -- to get THEM penalized, it may have worked.