arohan - 7:47 pm on Dec 24, 2012 (gmt 0) [edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:35 pm (utc) on Dec 24, 2012]
This has me stumped although I have been running sites for the last 5 years and I am definitely not new to SEO.
I run a well respected <competitive niche> site (US based) which is an authority in its niche. All content is written by me and they normally rank very well. Earlier this year I noticed a decline in Google organic referrals coinciding with the Penguin update (April I think). The rankings drop is uneven, only affecting a few selected pages and I was unable to figure out a pattern that could clue me in (why only some pages and not others). Homepage continues to rank very well and even improved over this time so I have no reason to believe that it is a sitewide penalty or adjustment of any kind.
As a further input to the situation, I believe the quality/trust signals my site gives out are strong as we are linked from universities, k12s, public libraries, non-profits and government agencies in US and around the world, in addition to mainstream media like NYT, Forbes, etc. I even found one of my articles used in a IBM corporate presentation that I stumbled on at slideshare.
So here is the situation. Looking at my Web Master Tools, out of 113K links, about 90K come from a single website. This website is a highly respected and very well trafficked <same niche> news site (with a high PR in Google if that matters). Apparently, every week they showcase a few posts from around the web by adding them below the articles they publish. And they publish 100s of articles every day. All the links in the showcase are dofollow.
Over the period of last 1 year since they have started showcasing my articles, they have pushed through over 90K links to my site. Truth be told, I don't mind much as they send me a lot of traffic, and the visibility and recognition is bound to be good for the long term.
I have no input to when and which post they decide to showcase and I only get to know them when visitors start pinging by monitoring Analytics. There is no reciprocity, no financial exchange or anything of that kind. It is purely hand curated on their part and other sites in the showcase are popular brand sites (think of websites that have print magazine versions that you can buy on a newsstand). But I am wondering if the sheer number of these links look unnatural in Google's eyes. I have tracked a few of my pages that have received 1000s of links from this site and found after initial ranking, they fell off the SERPs once they got linked and it took Google over 6 months to bring them back in the SERPs, perhaps after deciding these links are okay.
So the question is, should I worry about this and ask this website to ease up or should I just ignore this and be happy with the traffic and visibility. I believe if this continues, they will become even more significant part of my link profile. But is that bad when my primary concern is building a brand?
Google organic referrals are about 30% of my daily visits, with the rest coming from social media and referrals from other sites. My social media traffic is mainly from twitter and linkedin and well targetted. I also have a large amount of direct traffic so I am not overly dependent on Google but more traffic from them will not be unwelcome.
I guess I am looking for other point of views to figure out if there is any reason to waste more time worrying about this.
[edit reason] examplified niche [/edit]
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 8:35 pm (utc) on Dec 24, 2012]