purplekitty - 4:29 pm on May 6, 2013 (gmt 0)
I generally cannot refute your claims that you follow Google's guidelines to the letter but then again the guidelines are intentionally vague so it is difficult for anyone to be completely aligned to Google posted ideals.
"Just make a great website" is very subjective and Google does not provide explicit step-by-step instructional guidelines either.
I however don't dismiss anything... I do however get under people's skin and they eventually say something that might be the missing piece of information.
Yes Google could have detected a false positive for your website, but that then begs the question what are you doing differently that 95% of other websites in the world are not doing to be falsely detected by PENGUIN?
Surely high quality content isn't what's different.
I can't speak for 95% of the rest of the world's websites. I can only speak to my industry since I follow the big guys to see what they're doing (many of whom have started websites similar to mine in recent years) as it relates to what I'm doing and what I'm seeing is that those who have separate websites for each discipline and cross-link have the same phenomenon that I'm seeing on my own websites (as I've already mentioned) - still ranking in Yahoo & Bing, but nowhere to be seen for the most highly searched for keywords in Google.
I've looked at what I'm doing, took the advice of the helpful people in the google forums, and can see how I look like a link farm to Google according to Google's guidelines. I really have no doubt that that is my issue. If I had a crystal ball when I started these two sites eight years ago, I might have done things differently. I've considered removing all cross-linking but again, the links aren't there for Google as much as they are there for my humans, some of whom are interested in both disciplines. Therefore, I've put nofollow on those links and am now waiting to see if it has a positive effect when Google reruns Penguin.
If it doesn't, I really will have no other idea what Google doesn't like. As I said, Google does have the ability to "see" if websites are popular with users. Most users are NOT linking to the pages because they don't have websites. Frankly, I think social media today is a much better indicator of what someone thinks about a website's content rather than some obscure website backlinking to my site and I have a pretty big and increasing footprint on several social media sites, including pinterest (which Google seems to really, really like!) which sends me a substantial chunk of my traffic right now.