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"How can that possibly benefit Google?"
Step into G's shoes - how are they currently cashing in on their market position as top SE? Adwords. G's stated mission is to have not for profit organisations in the natural listing SERPS, and the commercial sites in the ads to the right. So this may be just another bow in their armoury to get you to pay them your hard earned cash for an immediate listing in Adwords. Simple business logic.
The easiest way to find out is looking at the PR (though PR 0 does not necessarily mean a page has a penalty, but it shows which pages to look at more closely).
On the other hand they don't update the PR and GoogleGuy makes a statement like the one above (which might be meant ironic though) and it may take months for the PR to update.
As much as I love Google - sometimes they are hard to understand...
On a side note to the PR issue, I have seen a couple of sites lose PR within the past couple of weeks, but I've yet to see one with a positive gain - all the more reason not to link out to anyone these days.
Maybe Google will give less weight to PR in the future?
Maybe they want people with new sites to try AdWords?
Only Google knows. Just waiting now like everyone else (and doing other work of course :)).
> how long to wait till SERP will improve?
From my experience, (just a hunch) the visible PR update will not affect SERPS. Judging by my own sites PR is changing constantly and affecting the SERPS respectively. Therefore, the visible PR update only *shows to us* the most recent PR values, and is not an indication of expected performance.
Does anyone agree?
Already seeing it. I have some sites linked together becuase it is all part of the company and only from the index pages. Nothing too much. Lost about 1000 links in all. Guess that is why this one took too long to update. Google had another nasty poker ready. I am off to delink them all now.
Silly me for believing G when they said they set out to make the web a more connected place! What of the client focussed vendor who exchanges links with his competitors to give the client more choice. He's now being penalised for this fair play - way to go G?!
Also, pages added 10 days ago still have a PR of 0 - hoping that this gets a quicker update than the last (not that it matters now that reciprocol linking is dead).
Long live Yahoo & MSN!