jmccormac - 7:53 am on Jul 20, 2012 (gmt 0)
@dresden87 @spreporter @Robert Charlton The link acquistion rate of a new site does follow a particular pattern but that pattern is something search engine operators are more likely to see than SEO people or webmasters. The basic natural link development/acquisition pattern (as seen by a search engine operator)for a new site without an SEO campaign runs like this (the main post is in the supporters section of the site here):
Stage 0: Site Launch
Minimal inbound links. Mainly outbound analytics and useful sites links.
Stage 1: Friends and Family
Inbound links from the websites of friends (often strongly linked in the webmaster's social network) and family.
Stage 2: Businesses and acquaintances
Inbound links from non-competing businesses in the same area (members of industry or chamber of commerce).
Stage 3: Customers and blogs
Inbound recommendation links from people who have used the site (discussion forums or blogs) or found the business useful.
Stage 4: Directories and other resources
Inbound links from trustworthy directories and people who have favourited the site as a useful link.
This is roughly the natural link acquisition pattern without an SEO campaign behind it however the timeline varies. Some sites can take months or years to acquire inbound links. When, as a search engine operator, you see a blizzard of inbound links to a relatively new site it looks rather odd and unless it is a driven from a mention on a major media site or authoritative site, it is typical of an SEO campaign or worse.
The worse case is a meat bot campaign with links coming in from sites, typically blogs, that don't have anything in common other than they (often) allow automatic posting of comments with no editorial approval or curation. That means that the inbound links would be sitting right in there with, potentially, a set of drugs/pron/warez links. I'm not sure how Google handles this kind of thing but it is a very risky thing for a search engine operator to allow this kind of pollution into their index so what can happen is that these open comment blogs can get the comments deindexed once identified and if the site is really problematic (ie an abandoned/derelict blog where there is little activity after the obligatory "hello world" post followed by the "ain't we great?" post) then the site will be deepsixed. That could mean that any outbound links from such abandoned sites are potentially suspect. Again it gets back to the blizzard of new links - most genuine sites (unless they are directories, large forums or data sites) do not have large numbers (hundreds of thousands) of outbound links.
Links seem to have their own Social Network. People naturally link to either the index page or the particular page in which they have an interest. The words used to link can often be as simple as the site or domain name. SEO people tend to use keywords for anchor text but natural links (as opposed to bought or artificial links) may not so there's a possibility of greater variation of anchor text and terms. That cliche about all politics being local can apply to many websites too in that if they are more than brochureware sites, they tend to have a localised or identifiable set of users that can be associated with a niche or a geographical area.
It does take time for a search engine (again not sure how Google handles this exactly) to establish a baseline for how a site is updated and used so SERPs and positioning should vary during this period. But if the PR angle has been played heavily then there is a possibility of meat bot links and and identical anchor text links that could have flagged the site for review. The most important thing to remember about a "by-the-book" approach is that search engine operators may be using a different book. :)