It seems that Google is really cracking down on what it refers to as 'unnatural linking', to the extent that some offending websites have actually been de-indexed. One of these, BuildMyRank, in responding to the news states "It had always been BMR’s philosophy that if we did things a bit different from other networks, we would not only have a better quality service to offer our users, but a longer life in this fickle industry." BMR is described as a blog-network but, as I understand it, its system was not all that different from a number of article submission sites except for the fact that it charged a fee and worked somewhat more vigorously on behalf of its authors.
I imagine that Google will also be searching out those links where the sites involved are totally unconnected - where someone has managed to get in a link for his used car business by posting a comment on a gardening blog. I have heard some internet teachers maintain that it is vital to get your links onto .edu and .gov sites. But if your website has nothing to do with education or government, that surely must be an unnatural link. I wonder whether the rooting out of these links will make .edu and .gov links more or less valuable than before.
Overall, my feeling is that these changes could be good for those of us who try to do things the 'proper' way, working hard to achieve appropriate links and not spamming unconnected blogs or websites. But it all depends on what Google decides to count as 'unnatural'. I have a website about the treatment of insomnia. I am also an active member of a forum that has nothing to do with insomnia. But on my profile page I have listed that website. And a few people from the forum who suffer from insomnia have found my website and (I hope) found it useful. But would Google say that was an 'unnatural' link?
The problem is that, as far as I'm aware, Google hasn't actually put down in black and white what is 'unnatural' and what isn't. Remembering my friend Peter's experience with the interpretation of the Google adwords rules, I'm just a little apprehensive.
Google Evolves - Are You Ready?