Okay, here is an update on the 15 or so sites I have looked at from HighRankings Forum members since October 20.
Nearly all of them have returned to the top ten. I don't know if they are where they were before, but I checked at least one specific keyword phrase (provided to me by the site operators) and found them in the top ten. Some sites targeting multiple keyword phrases don't seem to have recouped all their losses.
2 sites, operated by tech companies in different parts of the world and targeting very specific local markets, do not appear to have come back yet. They are in closely related industries but on different continents. These are not SEO companies (although SEO might be among the service they offer, but I didn't look too closely).
The 2 sites that have not yet come back both have what I consider to be weak linkage. One of the site operators told me he expected that with his site (over 19,000 pages of automated content have been indexed). The other site's links almost all come from "cookie cutter directories". (NOTE: I am not
saying directory links are bad or undesirable! See below...)
I don't believe there is a directory filter. I BELIEVE that Google may be trying to emphasize natural linkage, which should reflect a pattern of variety in link sources.
How would they do that? Secretly, of course.
But, seriously. I think Google has implemented a new link qualifying something-or-other (I wouldn't call it a tool or a filter) that helps them move sites around on the basis of, say, whether they have a variety of inbound link source types.
That is, if all your links (or most of them) come from directories, you may have a problem. Now, that hypothesis is easily tested. Anyone whose site has few inbound links from non-directory sources but which still ranks well is more than welcome to say, "Michael, I feel my site is an exception."
If we get 4-5 followups like that, I would consider that hypothesis to be blown out of the water (see, I'm easy to convince on these issues!).
Private messages are okay, too. I'm going to delete all the private messages going back to October 20, though. I need to clean out my inbox.
No one should go into a panic. If you feel your site may have been hurt by this update, check out the link building suggestions in the forum. Compare your inbound link sources (and it doesn't matter if you use Google, Yahoo!, MSN, or Ask to look at your links -- just don't use the "link:" command on Google, but rather look for references to it in the form of "www.my.url" using the quotes) to the variety of sources that the suggestions make.
You may be able to help yourselves by adding a few more links from different source types. If you try this, and if it works, please tell us
. We all learn by sharing. Jill gets a little upset with me when I speculate in the forum, but I assure you all that I don't share the vast majority of my hare-brained ideas here. They don't live that long.
I believe Google is still doing its weekly update. If you get some links this week, you should know by the first week of December whether they help.
How many links? I cannot tell you. If you have 5,000 links from directories and your site isn't coming up in the search results, maybe you need to think about getting some other types of links for a while.
If, on the other hand, you've been relying on article submissions to get links and your rankings have tanked, maybe you need some directory links.
If you have been getting mostly forum links, try writing some articles or getting directory listings.
Vary the sources. See if that helps.
And if you have mostly inbound links from one type of source and have not lost your rankings, please don't hesitate to say something. It's better for other people to see contrary indications sooner than later. Otherwise, some well-meaning person could take this speculation to other forums and say, "Hey! Michael Martinez says XXXXX".
Sorry. Michael ain't saying anything official yet.
Let's work together to see if we can figure this one out. All different points of view are welcome and valid, despite my occasional officious twittiness.