Well, I was wrong! Well, not 100% wrong. People agreed with me, in fact, it garnered a lot of retweets and responses on Twitter. 99.99% were all into what I wrote. But I am not.
If you spend $65,000 on a web site, the web site should rank well. I am so tired of web developers building expensive sites and not making them structurally sound for search engines. It isn't that hard, it is easy, it is often really good for the user experience also. So take an SEO course, read a book and code the site so that they are accessible for search engines.
But let me explain another reason why I was wrong. As you can see from the Google Webmaster Help, it has three responses from JohnMu, a Googler who can make a difference. The majority of the threads in that forum don't get a reply from a Googler. This one has three. Now to be fair, John replies to dozens and dozens of threads each day, but it is not physically possible for him to reply to everything, but this one caught his eye. Kind of like when the advertiser threatened to commit suicide if an AdWords representative didn't get back to him - FYI, it worked.
Not only is the 65k site getting detailed responses from Google, it is also getting it's penalty reversed. John said, "'ve heard that based on your recent reconsideration requests, some of the reviewers have taken a look at this thread in order to get a better picture of your site. Considering the information you've provided, the feedback you've gotten from others here and the direction your site appears to be taking, I imagine that they now have a better feeling for your site." It appears to me, whatever penalty was associated with the site will be reversed.
One more thing... John said, "I would recommend restoring your affiliate links." Yea, Google doesn't hate affiliate sites, as many would think. John explained:
No, Google does not have a problem with affiliate links. It's fine to monetize your website like that. The links are not what our algorithms worry about -- it's above all, the content. Many affiliate based sites only reuse the content from the vendors, and that's a problem for us. If you website has the content & structure to keep users coming back and to entice them to refer their friends to your website (and not to the vendor directly), then that's exactly what we want to show users in our search results. I can't judge your old website, I don't know how it was, but I can see how our algorithms might be worried about your site as it is now.
I could have written three or four different posts on this thread, I like these types of threads. ;-)
Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.