diberry - 4:03 pm on Jul 9, 2012 (gmt 0)
nick4u1, you just made me think of something that might be relevant:
I have two sites that are very similar (different niches) information sites. One got Penguined, the other didn't. On the non-Penguined site, I make significant income from a single affiliate link to a single product that appears on several pages, because I used that product to do what I described in those pages. On the Penguined site, I have carefully selected affiliate links which I believe are of interest and use to visitors (like, if you're going to talk about a book people might like to read, go ahead and put the Amazon aff link to it so they can see more reviews and possibly order it conveniently), but they're more varied and not necessarily representative of products I've used myself. I'd say affiliate links only appear in maybe 2% of all my pages, but most of them are not proceeded by language like "I bought the X I used to do Y at [affiliate link]" like they are on the other site.
While both of my sites are info sites, could it be that Google is seeing the info site with random affiliate links as a thinly disguised aff site, and the other site as more genuinely editorial? We know the algo looks at the text around a link - what if text indications that your affiliate link is genuine editorial and not "just" sales can earn you a free pass (all else being equal)?