fathom - 3:33 pm on May 27, 2013 (gmt 0)
People don't look in Yellow Pages anymore.
Yellow Pages wasn't ever free. You had to pay for that publishing service.
I can't replace the organic results with some other form of marketing, and it isn't a question of cost.
So why then make it a question of cost?
Even if I get my brand name to the public by peak-time TV advertising, the public will still find me by typing my brand name into Google rather than going to the bother of typing my URL.
Having achieved that position, they have pulled the rug from under a lot of people who were there not by complacency, but because they recognised the fundamental importance of Google organics for their own product placement.
It is disingenuous for Google to claim a crusade on behalf of relevance and white-hat SEO while following a different agenda. If a tourist asks me for directions to the post office and I lie to him, the fact that I haven't charged him for the lie doesn't make much difference: he is still a victim of my deliberate misrepresentation.
I'm sure if you are a false-positive Google will fix that quickly. However, Google has stated very clearly for years that TOS violations will not be tolerated so I don't see that as Google pulling the rug out from under you.
It is difficult to compare Wikipedia to any other domain because everyone believes there is a different set of rules for Wikipedia but let's say for the moment that isn't true.
What evidence would there be to suggest that Wikipedia is not whitelisted?
The lack of a Google acknowledgement is the best evidence. Assuming solid ranks is evidence of whitelisting isn't evidence. It suggests they did as Google wanted... "just make a great website and others will reward you".
If most websites used the heavy interlinking strategy that Wikipedia employs, this would be deemed over-optimization.
Have you actually tried it?
What part of breadcrumbs are consider over-optimization?