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"...We really do our best to be as detailed as possible in our guidelines and our overall help docs. We also notify a huge number of Webmasters with regards to existing or upcoming penalties..."
1) how many out there active in these newsgroups have been notified by Google of: a) existing penalties and b) upcoming penalties
2) Since the hottest topic today appears to be the -30 serp penalty (which I have been a victim of for almost 11 months), how many out there have been notified of the reason for this specific penalty?
3) What reason did Google give you for this -30 serp penalty?
4) How many of you have actually recovered from this -30 serp penalty?
But for everyone else, let me talk about why we consider it outside our guidelines to get PageRank via buying links. Google (and pretty much every other major search engine) uses hyperlinks to help determine reputation. Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and link-based analysis has greatly improved the quality of web search. Selling links muddies the quality of link-based reputation and makes it harder for many search engines (not just Google) to return relevant results. When the Berkeley college newspaper has six online gambling links (three casinos, two for poker, and one bingo) on its front page, it’s harder for search engines to know which links can be trusted.
At this point, someone usually asks me: “But can’t you just not count the bad links? On the dailycal.org, I see the words ‘Sponsored Resources’. Can’t search engines detect paid links?” Yes, Google has a variety of algorithmic methods of detecting such links, and they work pretty well. But these links make it harder for Google (and other search engines) to determine how much to trust each link.
A natural question is: what is Google’s current approach to link buying? Of course our link-weighting algorithms are the first line of defense, but it’s difficult to catch every problem case in adversarial information retrieval, so we also look for problems and leaks in different semi-automatic ways. Reputable sites that sell links won’t have their search engine rankings or PageRank penalized–a search for [daily cal] would still return dailycal.org. However, link-selling sites can lose their ability to give reputation (e.g. PageRank and anchortext).
What if a site wants to buy links purely for visitor click traffic, to build buzz, or to support another site? In that situation, I would use the rel=”nofollow” attribute. The nofollow tag allows a site to add a link that abstains from being an editorial vote. Using nofollow is a safe way to buy links, because it’s a machine-readable way to specify that a link doesn’t have to be counted as a vote by a search engine.
Will they ever actually do that and be specific about it? Most likely not.
Google not only does not want to tip off people who would no doubt take advantage of the information to dream up new ways to game the rankings, but they also (and possibly even more importantly to Google) are not going to willingly give up one iota of information about their algos or policies that might aid or abet the competition. And if that means we all have to stumble around blindfolded in the dark trying to hit a moving target, then so be it. We can P&M all we want, but I don't believe that full disclosure (or anything other than vague disclosure) is ever gonna happen.
If you want to advertise a new product and you use the nofollow tag, how in the world will other search engines find the link and index a page quickly.
Google gives sites the bulk of traffic and has great technology for finding content, but there are other engines that have to follow links to find content.....
...but I don't believe that full disclosure (or anything other than vague disclosure) is ever gonna happen.
I agree, google should do better than that. If the link is hitting a boderline penalty or is being penalized or is even questionable, discount it and notify the webmaster
I just over worked the ALT text of the pictures linking all my themed subdomains.
The improved ALT text should show the genaral similarity of all the different themed subdomains.
Meanwhile if you've run a clean site for 5-6 years and you've made some error that only google can tell you about and has only just found, then you get the -30 treatment.
...is google having a laugh.
But that, IMHO, that is a big improvement. At least now there is flux---I am not hitting up against the #31 wall that Google imposed. Now the competitive game is back on, not the unfair penalty obstacle.
FYI, no notification or acknowledgement from Google. However, sadly, none was expected.