backdraft7 - 1:32 pm on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0) [edited by: backdraft7 at 1:41 pm (utc) on May 23, 2012]
OK, so on the 17th of May I filed a reconsideration request to see if there was a manual penalty on my site...today, the 23rd I received the following boilerplate...(pretty fast review turnaround)
Dear site owner or webmaster of [yourdomain.com...]
We received a request from a site owner to reconsider [yourdomain.com...] for compliance with Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
We reviewed your site and found no manual actions by the webspam team that might affect your site's ranking in Google. There's no need to file a reconsideration request for your site, because any ranking issues you may be experiencing are not related to a manual action taken by the webspam team.
Of course, there may be other issues with your site that affect your site's ranking. Google's computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users.
If you've experienced a change in ranking which you suspect may be more than a simple algorithm change, there are other things you may want to investigate as possible causes, such as a major change to your site's content, content management system, or server architecture. For example, a site may not rank well if your server stops serving pages to Googlebot, or if you've changed the URLs for a large portion of your site's pages. This article has a list of other potential reasons your site may not be doing well in search.
If you're still unable to resolve your issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
So, that at least narrows it down to something BESIDES webspam.
What's troublesome then is the following:
The BEST RESULTS FOR USERS? I think anyone who has recently searched for anything on Google will pretty take issue with that statement. Yesterday I searched for a lawn mower belt and a local parts store. I couldn't find any local stores on page one, two or three...I had to switch to Bing to find the belt itself. I did get plenty of dictionary & e how pages telling me what a mower belt is for though (lol).
As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users.
Perhaps this webspam thing is less of a penalty for bad sites and more of a reward for what they now consider "good" sites, in other words, sites that say very little, so cannot be penalized. For many search queries, the top 5 sites are all one page wonders on the searched topic. There is no depth whatsoever for these results, other than to direct you to another related thin article. The reward of these thin sites appears to have displaced the authority sites with many pages of related content.
So, again, the bottom line is that Google is still appears to be broken, so, if this IS the results data set that they want to keep, I better sell my GOOG stock ASAP.
[edited by: backdraft7 at 1:41 pm (utc) on May 23, 2012]