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jimbeetle: Are YOU implying that you can create a website which does EVERYTHING opposite of what G recommends and get anywhere on their search results? Try leaving out an H1, a title, a meta description and direct link to 100 unrelated s-x sites from a single page about baking cookies while advertising to add anyone who pays monthly, and see if you show up anywhere on G.
What is your point?
With the top half of the page being paid ads for many search terms, the only way to beat the competition is to bid high in Adwords.
I link the way I link without concern for Google. It's quite obvious that the way Google ranks websites is not based on quality or how we link to others, but instead on how much money they can make directly or indirectly by feeding traffic to partners. It's a stacked deck and the more that people obsess over how they link to others the more likely they are to stress over ranking above Google's favorites.
your question makes me wonder if Google is smart enough to know that an image page with 100 src attributes that point to another domain is likely a low-quality page