About 3 days ago one of my sites has been penalized by Google. How do I know this? We were on the 1st and 2nd pages on Google for 100+ keywords that we were targeting and business was going great. Now we are nowhere to be found. The number of pages indexed in Google is still consistent (site:domain.com) which means I'm not totally banned but words that were on the 1st page are now pretty much buried past 30 pages. And this is pretty much every single keyword that we were working hard on and spending a quite a bit of money overall.
As far as link building for SEO we've been doing manual directory submissions and paid text link ad campaigns. I know most of you are thinking "you deserve it" but I know most of you either thought about buying links or actually tried it. Anyway, the site was rising fast on many of the keywords and then BOOM! flat line.
I've researched for many hours the last couple days on link building and google penalties to refresh my memory. I used to think that since 'Website A' has no control over 'Website B', whatever links to 'Website A' shouldn't harm it since it has no control over Website B, C, D, E. etc. The worst thing google should do is just ignore the link (and they used to do that). But this experience is making me think otherwise.. Wouldn't this open doors to sabotaging competitors?