Robert_Charlton - 9:16 am on Jul 20, 2012 (gmt 0)
jmccormac - Thanks very much for posting that.
(the main post is in the supporters section of the site here)
For those who are WebmasterWorld supporters, the more extended post from about a month ago is available in this thread in the supporter's Google SEO forum...
What is a natural link profile?
For more detail on the idea of "spikiness" in the Google historical data patent that I was referring to, see this archived discussion from 2005...
New Google Patent Details Many Google Techniques
From the patent...
While a spiky rate of growth in the number of back links may be a factor used by search engine 125 to score documents, it may also signal an attempt to spam search engine....
Just to throw out some thoughts for consideration... were the patterns of link growth to the sites in question far enough outside normal patterns to have been flagged as "spiky", thus prompting further tests?
And were there any patterns in the "shuffling" or traffic observed that might suggest what Google was trying to measure? Any stats on visitor engagement with the site during the times of the test? Was Google trying to evaluate, eg, whether the notoriety the site was receiving was based on wide appeal or on heavy duty promotion?
I feel like we approached these by-the-book.
Possibly, the definition of "by-the-book" could be changing.