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I investigated the Guestbook theory and site after site with guestbook links has been either completely banned or PR 0.
I really don't know why Google would ban sites for issues beyond their control.
The takeaway message I would ask webmasters to remember is that not showing up in Google!= "I'm banned." We've got a FAQ on our site that site owners can review if they don't show up in Google.
The terms of service on this forum don't allow specific sites to be mentioned. If a person lists their site in a profile, then other people (including me) can help that webmaster out if they can and have the time. I hope that helps some people feel better, or gives them some info about what to do if they don't see their site..
It could be the new industry to get us sout of the recession!
I guess it's just like real life. Hanging out at 2 AM in a train yard is suspicious, and will get you in trouble. Dropping a fishing line in the bay, next to the train yard at 2 AM will get you an offer of some fresh coffee.
But I do like to believe that even in adult or gambling areas of the web, that google will look for at least some sort of on site problem before implementing a penalty.
BigDave, great idea! But can AOL afford to hire anyone?
GoogleGuy, thanks for the heads-up - it's good to know that freshbot can recover a server-was-down dropped site. I got to experience the March episode first hand (ouch). Unfortunately, freshbot wasn't bouncing-around back then.
Speaking of freshbot, we haven't seen him since last year ;). Any idea of when he might get out and about again?
I don't think 'not changing anything' on your site is a recipe for success anyway, considering the web will continue to grow, even if your site doesn't.. just means there's more competition against you and you're putting up less of a fight! And of course visitors won't have much to come back for if you never change anything! If you update your content regularly and grow a lot of return visitors, then you wouldn't have to worry about Google so much. ;)
Nominate a site? Why no one nominate this forum? ;) ehhh ... I just don't think you can get an established site down with lots of good inbound links. If you site is a piece of junk, it was more probably that you sign the guestbook yourself instead of your competitor :)
Even if the algo successfully attack microsoft.com, I think bill gates will just call Page from google and everything will be settle in minutes. So why take a few days to sign guestbooks for microsoft?