So everyone always said "don't link to bad neighborhoods". I get that. But I always thought that receiving a link from a bad neighborhood never really hurt you, it just didn't help, because you can't control who links to you. Right?
Maybe not... Some time ago, a small network of interlinked sites that I run got banned from Google. It's about 8 or 10 domains that I use for experimenting with, and I'll leave it at that. Each of these banned sites has as many as 9,000 pages of content that's constantly growing.
What's interesting is that they are still crawled by Googlebot DAILY. I have another site (one that WASN'T banned) that has naturally bounced around between the #5 and #7 position for a particular term for over a year. THIS site is completely legit, and has nothing to do with the other network of sites, is hosted with a different company, different whois, etc. Basically no relation at all.
Here's where it gets weird. I placed a link to this site from all of the sites in the banned network, using the same anchor text. Within 3 days, my #7 position had fallen to #15. Nothing else had changed. I checked this position from multiple locations, it was consistent across the board.
I left it this way for a week. Then I took the links OFF of the sites in the banned network, and within another 3 days the site was back at #6 for the term.
So... do I have the "touch of death"? I don't want to try it again on that site out of fear that Google may consider it somehow "related" to the network of death... and I don't want to link to someone else's site for the same reason, I'm not interested in affecting anyone's ranking. But still, this is some pretty powerful stuff here if what I think is happening is what's happening...