My son played Hockey as a kid and later went on to ref it for a time. It's a great game - if potentially a bit violent. You're wondering what this has to do with Google, right? Stay with me.
The rules of Hockey are pretty well established, but there is this tendency in some venues to be lenient on enforcement. As a referee you are given "broad latitude" (code for unlimited) to call what you want - or not.
One especially dangerous rule violation is "checking" from behind - that's running into someone violently from behind with the intent to take them out of the play, out of the game, or way worse. There is no continent on Earth where a cross-check is legal, but there are many individual games where it is overlooked pretty routinely.
Which gets us back to Google ...
The webmaster guidelines ALWAYS (how do I shout louder than bold caps?) stated that "linking to achieve ranking" was not acceptable. Period. No exceptions. It's cross-checking, but unenforced until January 2011. Then there came a new ref.
Has the game changed? Yes. The rules? NO! The rules DID NOT change, only enforcement, and yes, that did change, A LOT! If we can not be honest with ourselves and each other about this one point, we just can't move forward: the rules did not change.
Look, I least of all will be the one to fault anyone for playing the game the way it was enforced rather than the way it was ruled. It can be (successfully?) argued that I invented some of the most successful Google-games, but if you recall closely, I did mention at some point the risk and the rational preparation every business owner, game players especially, should make should the ref (suddenly) decide to call foul.
That time has long since come. The old games are done and it is now time to adopt new game. Is this bad news? I don't think so.
Ironically, as a widely recognized "Google game player" I don't view the post-Panda Google as much different than pre-Panda. Sure, the "game" is no longer trivial (yes, that really IS the right word), but this is definitely weeding out a lot of competition and if you are willing to stay the course and commit to a "real" business ... there is never a better time to do so.
I know. Ironic, right?
- Link spam: dead.
- PageRank Sculpting: largely ineffective.
- Leslie: happy.
When I entered the 3rd grade I was faced with this thing called "new math". The post-Panda age is just "new math", but instead of PageRank math, we finally get to focus on real business metrics - kinda like I did for 20 years before Google.
So, yeah, I'm okay with the new Google. I really loved cross-checking my opponents back in the day, but I'm okay playing "by the rules" too. Leave the cheap shots to the brutes that don't have a real game, play a smart game, and any Google will do just fine.