Search engine analyst Danny Sullivan applies his expertise to analyzing the penalties MetaFilter that might have cost the site a huge chunk of its Google search traffic. It’s a really interesting look at how Google penalizes sites that try to game the system.
The section on how Google penalizes publishers for inbound “unnatural links” is really interesting:
It’s insane because it has allowed the same sites that charged people to get links to now charge for them to be removed. Or for the rise of an entire link debuilding industry. Or for publishers who have long suffered terrible link requests to now get messages from people asking for links to be removed.
The article has some really good advice for Google in how it manages its relationship with publishers. I also liked this bit:
Earn respect. That’s your best defense if things go south with Google. It’s also your best offense for doing well in Google.
As Sullivan points out, people cheered when Google lit Demand Media on fire and set them adrift.