Wilburforce - 2:04 pm on Jul 20, 2013 (gmt 0)
I have never had any penalty notices, and see no sign of recovery now. Clearly - whatever you choose to call it - it IS a penalty: you don't drop from the top of page 1 to page 40+ (behind a lot of pages not even in the Key Term business) without some heavy negative weighting, especially when you are still at the top of page 1 on all other engines.
One thing I noticed yesterday is that half a dozen link errors had appeared in WMT which were clearly the result of some indexing/caching error. I had changed a number of pdfs at the beginning of May, following my usual procedure of uploading the new versions/filenames, then uploading revised versions of the pages linking to them, then deleting the older versions. WMT reports link errors from the revised pages postdating the revision by more than six weeks. Is Google using cached versions for this (the only explanation I can think of)?
Clearly any changes to backlinks/disavowing cannot be evaluated for their effect if Google is using historical (and no longer correct) data. On this point, also, the links I disavowed about six months ago do now appear to have been removed, but this has had no effect whatsoever.