I had a contract with an online ad agency for banner ads that was up for renewal on November 1st. I was tired of seeing the banners ads take up so much space. I also had an advertiser from a couple of years ago who wanted to get back on my site, but the agency had an exclusivity clause, so I couldn't do it.
So, I didn't renew, and I put a link for "widget gear" in my navigation menu, with a nofollow link. I did this at midnight on October 31st.
I should mention that I did something similar for another retailer in June by putting a "Widgets & Gizmos" link in my navigation menu.
The June retailer hasn't said anything about any penalties, and I haven't seen anything that looks like a penalty, other than the Panda update from 2/24 that hasn't gone away.
My new advertiser said that the day after this link went up, he lost all of his Google listings.
That seems awfully quick for a paid link penalty, and I don't think these would be regarded as paid links. It seems more like Panda if anything.
My gut tells me that he's going to try to wiggle out of the one-year agreement we have that replaced the one-year contract I had with the ad agency.
Any ideas, comments, etc are really appreciated.