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Most webmasters won't notice much change, but I wanted to give folks some advance notice. If your toolbar display changes a little up or down--don't panic. :) The change I mentioned, plus things like having more pages crawled in our index, can affect the toolbar display. As always, the traffic and conversions you get matter more than how many green pixels the toolbar shows.
Over the next few months, I think you'll see more emphasis at Google on scalable algorithms rather than responding to individual spam reports--please set your expectations accordingly--but we are also putting more emphasis on reinclusion requests from webmasters.
As always, I'll try to be around to answer questions and offer advice.. :)
Only issue might be someone who lets the domain lapse, has to pay a price to get it back and loses all the links in the process.
"Hey, we are going to fiddle with our spam filters. Yup, we are really going to screw a stack of quality sites when we do that, so you know what - we will provide an email address to try to mitigate some of the most grotesque errors"
In other words, you are going to net a whole bunch of dolphins, and provide a net-knife for some of them to escape with.
That's how it COULD be read.
Now... tell me you are going to be VERY VERY careful with those filters. You DON'T need drastic surgery, so don't go throwing the baby out with the bath water!
1) Google reduces effort in manually dealing with spam reports because they want a scaleable solution (GoogleGuy reported yesterdays spam reports being countable on one hand).
2) Google implements filter which will most likely result in innocent parties being affected.
3) How will these innocent parties get their PR back? A non scaleable solution of responding to emails?
If spam reports are so few then why can't they be manually handled whilst a filter solution is investigated?
I'm no expert on how domains expire and get re-registered but in the two cases where I've registered a domain it would appear that the email address is the most important entry. Renewals notices are sent to this address.
What would stop somebody re-registering a domain with the old owners name and address etc. but using their own email? Surely this would be hard to detect if your filters allow for expiry and renewal by the same person?
I really appreciate the additional communication that we are seeing lately. It seems like someone at the old googleplex has decided that it's okay to give out a bit more information about how things operate, as long as they do not negatively influence the integrity of the algo.
Having worked on many quality software teams, and too many that weren't, I have no trouble believeing that you all are able to cover all the common cases before implementing. I'm certain within a few months of bug reports, you will have this particular piece of the algo almost perfect.
I have a couple of suggestions that you might want to consider. You may have already implemented them, or you may have already decided against them. But as free suggestions, they are worth every penny you paid.
The suggestions mostly have to do with the problem of someone buying an expired domain widget.com with the legitimate goal of selling widgets. They will have trouble getting "new" links from many of they places that would link to the site, because those sites "already link to them".
One possibility is to reinstate the link after a certain amount of time. Possibly something like letting them start trickling back in after 6 months, lowest PR links first. This will give the linking site owners more time to realize that there has been a change.
Put together a filter that compares the words on the old site with the new site and come up with a probability that it is on a similar topic. This one could be done, but I'm not sure if it's worth the effort unless you already have someone putting effort into any sort of baysean analysis for themeing.
When a linking page has had some significant changes, specifically, having several links removed, then allow that link to count again. That way, if I am linking to widget.com and if I go through and check my links to delete broken ones, I am sort of validating that I still intend to give that link to widget.com. On the other hand, a list of links that only gets added to might never get verified.
Sometime it might pay for google to document the process that they go through when implementing one of the more simple spam filters, so that people can see the process that goes into making sure that you do not catch the dolphins. Certainly not one of the major spam filters, and you don't need to give all the information, but enough so that we can point to it and show people that you really do try to avoid killing innocent bystanders.
On another note, my biggest wish for google by next fall, would be for Google to either have a way for webmasters to request that they update their entry in their DNS cache, or tell webmasters how to have their hosts transfer the DNS so that google will catch it. I'm hoping to exceed my bandwith limit in about 6 months, and it would be nice to not have to keep my old site up for 3 months just to be safe.
So every link has a "date-create-tag" behind it.
I suppose that will also help find Fresh stuff and adjust for bias against old content not receiving recent links.
Does this mean that there is now value based on the age of a link (assuming it was added after any expiration type thingy)? I have a site that immediately after the update I suspected had fallen (from 15 to 23) from weight given in the algo to age of a site. I purchased the site in July, had it indexed with substantially new content in November, and it had steadily moved up as I added links, content, exactly as you would expect. Google shows my backlinks this update increased from 28 to 36 with similar increases below the threshhold. Most of these have the keyword phrase in the title as it is the name of the company.
The only backlinks to the previous site were from DMOZ and Yahoo and I had both of those changed to reflect the new content. It went from a site about a regional wedding book to a regional wedding directory. Of the several sites that moved up, the only backlinks added were from my directory :(. The only reason I can think of for the fall is that age of a site is now important somehow.
My main concern though has been with link patterns rather than domain expiry/re-use. I used to be very free and easy with link exchange, as I felt that the web should be open (karma, etc). Now though I am slightly paranoid, as some of these exchanges could come back to haunt me (who knows).
I am 100% confident that this would never happen with a manual filter program, as a human would see that the sites are obviously valid and of quality. With auto-filters? I'm not so sure, hence my concern.... and that of others in similar boats.
I do sincerely hope that you are careful in this area. Not just self preservation (although naturally some), but because people far less able to recover than me would also suffer unreasonably through an over-zealous approach.
I have to say though that the previous track record of Google in these matters has been genuinely superb. I do hope you maintain that approach and standard.
My domain has been banned for well over a year with no possible explanation except that it was once owned by a company selling in a completely different topic area (same keyword; means two completely different things... the keyword is present in domain name and our company name).
We've never used artificial link popularity, hidden text, cloaking or used any other method of SEO other than just stating what we sell and taking orders. We have built up hundreds of voluntary free links over the last couple years.
I've always figured our banning had to do with the prior owner of the domain. Will this change give me a clean slate and a new chance to be listed?
I hate to throw away our company name recognition and start over with another site, but we have considered it. I don't think that is what Google intended when they put these multi-year bans on domains. If the intention was to ban a particularly bad offender for life, then this expired domain change is very welcome to limit the friendly fire death sentences.
My understanding of what GoogleGuy has said is that their filters can handle this situation - you won't be penalized.
It's not clear whether this leaves a loophole for bypassing the filters though. It may be possible to buy expired domains and register them in the original owners name.
It definately sounds like the filter is on the whole a big improvement though.
Registration details, DNS server and site ip address and time offline would probably be taken into account too.
The algo. isn't going to get it right all the time but as long as they err. on the cautious side it should be a big improvement.
This is either a bug in the algorithm, or the site *are* being penalised. I suspect it's the former, that Google is unable to accurately discriminate between the old links and the new ones.