backdraft7 - 3:55 am on Sep 21, 2010 (gmt 0)
I really don't think "page speed" or a "limited number of visitors to go around" answers this current problem. I think Google is overwhelmed with data and the complexity is just breaking the system for the moment.
We see this same pattern at nearly every algo and system change. Google's Mayday, Caffeine and Instant all rolled out this year. I still think the best content makes it way to the top and I have a hard time believing that Google would unethically "throttle" sites. I hope their legal department would have the foresight to keep them from stepping into that quagmire.
Whatever they are doing, keep in mind, the web is still the "Wild West" of business and that all good things eventually come to an end. Google doesn't owe us anything, but it is in their best interest to keep the webmasters of the world in business.
The web should remain free, but you know it won't. My goal is to NOT keep putting all my eggs in one basket and to diversify my business so I don't have to rely on eventually being "fired" by Google.
I hope it straightens out in the next week or two, but again, I'm not holding my breath. Good Luck to all! Hang in there!