It's like your local government failing to tell you why they've set up a work-zone boundary around your local business, preventing customers from entering your door, unless the customer climbs the fence.
On October 8th, 2007 Debng of Performancing wrote the following linkbait:
66 Celebrities that Blog.
On October 9th, 2007 the article went popular (front page) on Digg:
According to Yahoo's Site Explorer, the article has 1,984 backlinks:
Page specific results from site explorer
A Google search for the title of that article (66 Celebrities that Blog) completely and utterly misidentifies the source:
In fact, if you follow the above link, you will see that the source is not listed on the front page (at least not at the time of this writing). The problem is compounded by the fact that the vast majority of sites on the first page of SERPs link to the source on Celebrity Cowboy.
This problem is not isolated. Time and again, I've seen Google misidentify the source for an extremely popular article.
So what can you do about it? Well, Google would have you believe that you can simply file a Dissatisfied? Help us improve quality report. But let me tell you, this does not work. I've been filing the report once each month since October when I first noticed the issue. And although the issue was temporarily resolved for about one week in November, it has since permanently returned.
So what's the problem? Well, there are many possibilities. The problem is that Google's words speak louder than their actions. There is clearly some penalty or buffer that's being applied to the source article in this case, for whatever reason. The problem is that I have no recourse (other than the remote possibility that Matt Cutts takes notice and institutes an non-scalable solution).
I personally don't want Matt Cutts to take action specific to my personal issues. I want Google to truly be committed to a policy of openness for webmasters who take the time to try to play by the book, even putting their sites into Webmaster Tools. I want Google to seriously work to clamp down on false positives in their penalty buffering algorithm, or to at least come up with a truly scalable solution for working with well-intentioned publishers to fix problems in a timely manner.
As it stands right now, there are thousands of good websites that are being unjustly damned to SERP hell, and publishers are left feeling helpless because, although they've completely cleaned up and consented to work on Google's terms, Google continues to ignore them, not even acknowledging that there is an issue.
Quite honestly, it's like your local government failing to tell you why they set up a work-zone boundary around your local business, preventing customers from entering your door, unless they climb the fence. That's what it feels like. I wish Google would realize the enormity of the issue.