There is currently a lot of discussion taking place in two forums about comments left by Matt Cutts of Google in a post here named Google Attacked Over Webmaster Relations. Now, Matt responded to some question left by a comment here. Let me pull out Matt's comments:
Adam's already doing a great job on that thread, but it is frustrating that I don't have a chance to do everything I'd like to do. If I've only got limited time, I could spend that discussing something or a forum, or try to write on a new topic (malware, Stephen Colbert, robots.txt crawl-delay and why we don't support it).
annej, regarding the -950 thing, I'd watch this video I made: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4814548594071648913#1m42s Starting around 1:42 into the video is where I talk about this.
Then a guy named Mark asked for feedback on his site and Matt gave it to him:
Mark, I wish I had time to chat with each webmaster and give personalized advice, but I really don't. That's part of the idea of the webmaster help group -- to let peers give suggestions.
That peer group can be really helpful. For example, suppose that in April you had a bunch of links at the bottom of your page that looked like "Online Loan | Santa Cruz Hotels | Xbox Mod Chip | Home Loan | Mobile Phones " or "Bad Credit Mortgages | Afvallen | Problem Remortgage | Mortgage | Myspace Layouts". Linking to bad neighborhoods or spammy sites can affect your site's reputation. So the webmaster help group might look at your site and say "Hey, why not remove that link co-op stuff and then do a reinclusion request that says 'In case this was a factor, I'm no longer participating in this co-op link exchange and linking sites like this from my root page.' That might do it."
It's a helpful group, and you can often get actionable advice from it.
To make a long story short, his site was reincluded within a day or so, after some appeals.
But what do we learn from this exchange of Webmaster communication, between Google and SEOs?
WebmasterWorld administrator, Tedster explains;
So this algo element has been in place for a year and a half (at the time the video was made - that lines up with reports here) and it's designed to penalize for "over-optimization". I watched this video before but I missed the connection to the -950 that Matt just highlighted.
In the Google Groups thread, a member explains the video in his own words:
-It's an algo update push. -overly seo'd sites -don't listen to what SEO forums say -don't optimize quite as much
I am not sure if Matt said don't listen to SEO Forums, but he did say, don't pay too much attention to them, in the sense of don't obsess over it.
Some nice old theories are coming up. This is what forum discussion is all about.