Apparently Google discovered Real Estate Webmasters “contextual linking” program and decided that it was not within the Spirit” of their Search Criteria. Frankly I am a bit surprised. Real Estate Webmaster got a pretty large boost of biz when Advanced Access got an IP level penalty from Yahoo for blatant reciprocal linking. Why would they take the same chances? Google makes it pretty darn clear that ANY linking practices that are designed to “game the system”are open for penalty assessment or worse. REWs linking practices seem to serve no other purpose. Months ago there was the “cross-linked” directory scandal… and now this? Lets put away our self-serving, over analytical SEO hats, step back and look at why Google would feel justified in assessing such a penalty.
What does Google do for a living? They offer a service. Simply put, Google offers the best case results for any search term you choose to enter in the Google search box. How do they do it? By creating a complex algorithm that measures MANY different aspects of a site and returns the best results. ( I know…highly oversimplified) What happens when you game the system? Google’s value is diminished. Would you stand for that if you were Google? of course not. and neither will they.