There has been a few stirrings over the past few weeks about a new Google over-optimization penalty (or as some label a devaluation of link value) which were all derived from the quote by Matt Cutts of which almost everyone has heard or read where hey says,
Whether or not Google can actually detect what would be considered truly bad links or not, they've obviously made up their mind as to what they consider them to be which is besides the point. The point is, and has been pointed out by Barry Schwartz, Google has been issuing a lot of warnings and it looks like there's really nothing one can do to stop a competitor or enemy from ruining your business - from the standpoint of the Google search results. It's happening, people are receiving letters from Google asking them to make changes to their websites and/or submit a list of unnatural sites linking to them of which they have no control over.So all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little bit more level. And so thatís the sort of thing where we try to make Google Bot smarter, we try to make our relevance more adaptive so that people donít do SEOÖand we also start to look at the people who abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on a page or whether they exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect.
We have to accept it, Google's algorithm is a computer program and it can be used against itself if bright enough minds figure out a way to. I'm not saying all the website owners that received these letters from Google aren't guilty as charged but out of the thousands, there must be a few that are being hit by competitors building the unnatural links against them.
There are a lot of people who don't believe a competitor can ruin your link profile and maybe some websites are immune to such actions, but are they? Could WebProWorld.com be affected by a competitor building bad links to their site? Could Amazon or even Chapters Indigo? That's it? Someone decides to buy links pointing to your website, then reports you and in a few weeks your website is out of the search results?
Here's a decent comment from the article by Barry in response to some comments commending Google for taking a proper stand against certain link building practices,
Except that Google's algorithm's make mistakes all of the time and unfairly flag people for no bad intent on their part. And Google doesn't tell you what's actually wrong, leading you to guess and make mistakes trying to comply. And then people's AdSense accounts or Adwords accounts get banned, with very little ability to get the attention of an actual human being to spend time with you actually going over what issues exist or giving you a fair review. And then your entire business is screwed. Google's mistakes lead to businesses getting destroyed and people losing jobs. It's easy to be all gung-ho about this when you don't realize that Google's actions against this type of thing have a massive effect on not only people that buy links, but innocent people who are guilty of nothing and are caught up trying to navigate the Kafka-esque world that is Google's "customer service" department.